Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities
Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough Tweeted that Trudeau Government to Table Bill C-22 (the Canada Disability Benefit Act) in House of Commons Next Week, But No Indication Whether the Government Agrees to Ratify All the Senate’s Amendments to the Bill
June 9, 2023
On June 8, 2023, federal Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough tweeted that the Trudeau Government will again table Bill C-22 (the Canada Disability Benefit Act) in the House of Commons next week. We do not have a firm date. We also have seen no public indication from the Trudeau Government whether it will propose to ratify all the Senate’s much-needed amendments to the bill. We have written the Minister’s office to ask if the Trudeau Government will support ratifying all the Senate’s amendments. We will notify you if we get an answer.
We are eager for the House of Commons to ratify all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-22. The Trudeau Government has not contacted the AODA Alliance to indicate that the bill is to be tabled in the House of Commons next week or to indicate which of the Senate’s amendments, if any, the Government will agree to ratify.
For the bill to be passed now, all those amendments must be ratified now. If the House of Commons ratifies only some or none of those amendments, the bill will have to go back to the Senate. That will further delay the bill, possibly for months.
If the Trudeau Government does not itself agree that all the Senate’s amendments now be ratified, we call on the opposition parties to use whatever parliamentary procedures they can invoke to get all those amendments ratified now. The Trudeau Government has a minority of the seats in the House of Commons. The opposition parties together have enough seats in the House to achieve a majority of votes to pass all the Senate’s amendments. We do not know if the protocols and procedures in the House of Commons would enable the opposition parties to amend a motion by the Trudeau Government on this bill in order to ensure that the House of Commons ratifies all the Senate’s amendments.
Four key senators have just added their compelling voices to the tsunami of calls on the Trudeau Government to now ratify all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act. Below we set out the June 8, 2023 news release by Senators Marilou McPhedran, Rosemary Moodie, Kim Pate and Chantal Petitclerc. This piles on top of the 44 community organizations that signed on to the AODA Alliance’s open letter to the Trudeau Government, and an additional dozen disability organizations that sent another letter to the Government that calls for Bill C-22 to be passed and given Royal Assent this month.
The AODA Alliance’s June 1, 2023 news release lists the many reasons why the Trudeau Government should listen and now ratify all the Senate’s amendments.
The Senators’ news release lists most of the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-22. We draw specific attention to the desperately needed Senate amendment that bans private insurance companies from clawing back the Canada Disability Benefit from a recipient of long-term disability insurance benefits. If the Trudeau Government passes Bill C-22 without ratifying that Senate amendment, it will knowingly leave private insurance companies free to scoop the Canada Disability Benefit from impoverished people with disabilities on long-term disability., That money was never intended to end up in the profits of rich insurance companies.
To learn more about why we need the House of Commons to ratify that Senate amendment, read a powerful letter that two expert Toronto lawyers recently sent Prime Minister Trudeau. Every provincial Trial Lawyers’ Association in Canada has endorsed that letter!
You can help us win this! Please call, email or tweet your Member of Parliament today! Tell them to ratify all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-22. You can find their email addresses and Twitter handles in the May 27, 2023 AODA Alliance Update.
For more background, check out:
AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s May 29, 2023 guest column in the Toronto Star’s Metroland newspapers.
The AODA Alliance website’s Bill C-22 page.
June 8, 2023 News Release by Senators Marilou McPhedran, Rosemary Moodie, Kim Pate and Chantal Petitclerc
The Honourable Marilou McPhedran, Rosemary Moodie, Kim Pate and Chantal Petitclerc, Senators
Senators Call on the Government to Honour Its Promises to Lift
Persons with Disabilities Out of Poverty
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2023 (Ottawa) – As Minister Qualtrough reminded us, Canada is facing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lift many working-age Canadians with disabilities out of poverty by passing Bill C-22 and developing and implementing a Canada Disability Benefit. We call on the government to not let this moment slip by.
The government has been clear that redressing economic inequality for persons with disabilities is an urgent matter and has encouraged legislators to pass this bill quickly. The Senate worked hard to respond to calls from members of the disability community to advance Bill C-22 expeditiously while also strengthening it in key ways.
Senate amendments to the bill include new requirements that when developed, the benefit will be:
- Protected from clawbacks by private insurance companies, so that it reaches those in need and is not diverted to companies;
- Equipped with a process by which individuals can appeal decisions made about their eligibility for the benefit and the amount they ought to receive;
- Calculated taking into account not just Canada’s official poverty line but also the additional costs of living with a disability, systemic ableist barriers to accessing work, intersectional needs, and Canada’s international human rights obligations;
- Implemented as soon as possible, by requiring all necessary regulations for the roll out of the benefit to be in place within 12 months of the coming into force of the bill and making technical amendments to give effect to the House of Commons’ intentions regarding its coming into force date.
These important additions have been awaiting approval by the House of Commons for three weeks. Only two weeks remain until the House is expected to rise for the summer, with no confirmation yet of when the government intends to bring Bill C-22 forward for consideration in the House.
Bill C-22 was announced in 2020. After a previous version of the legislation was introduced but never debated, it was finally introduced in Parliament in 2022, where it eventually spent eight months in the House of Commons. In contrast, the Senate has conducted its own comprehensive study, including more days of chamber debate and almost double the amount of committee study in little more than three months’ time. Senators have clearly responded to the pleas for urgent action. Now the government must act and finally deliver on its promise to the disability community by passing this desperately needed bill into law.
We call on the government to honour the trust that members of the disability community have been asked to place in this legislative process. We call on the government to act urgently to pass Bill C-22, including its important Senate additions. Persons with disabilities in need and struggling to afford basic necessities should not have to wait one second more for relief from poverty.
For more information:
Office of Senator Kim Pate