Breaking News in the Campaign for a Barrier-Free Canada – Federal NDP Announces It will Support Enactment of the Canadians with Disabilities Act – Will the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois Do So Too?

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United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

September 29, 2015

We are pleased to share with you the latest Update from Barrier-Free Canada, set out below.

Barrier-Free Canada/Canada Sans Barrière

A Non-Partisan Campaign for a Barrier-Free Canada for All Persons with Disabilities

Federal New Democratic Party Promises to Pass a Canadians with Disabilities Act  – and – Listen Live Online If You Cannot Attend the September 29 2015 Federal All Candidates Forum on Disability Issues

September 29, 2015


1. Federal New Democratic Party Promises Canadians with Disabilities Act

On September 29, 2015, the federal New Democratic Party became the first of the three major federal parties in this election to pledge to enact a Canadians with Disabilities Act. Specifically, the NDP promised to:

“Introduce a comprehensive Canadians with Disabilities Act to eliminate barriers and to promote accessibility, effective participation, and equality of opportunity for persons living with disabilities.”

We set out the NDP’s September 29, 2015 news release and backgrounder below. Until now, only the federal Green party had promised a Canadians with Disabilities Act. We will make public any commitments we receive from any other parties.

Barrier-Free Canada congratulates the federal NDP for making this important commitment. Barrier-Free Canada heartily endorses the important goals of eliminating systemic barriers that Canadians with disabilities face, and of promoting accessibility, effective participation and equal opportunity.

Barrier-Free Canada calls on the federal Conservative, Liberal and Bloc Quebecois parties to meet or exceed this promise. It calls on all parties to endorse the 14 principles for a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act that Barrier-Free Canada has put forward.

The federal Conservative party promised a national Disabilities Act in 2006. It has not passed this law or introduced it into Parliament for debate.

The goal of the non-partisan Barrier-Free Canada is to get all federal parties to pledge in this election to support passage of a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act that fulfils the 14 principles for it that Barrier-Free Canada has established. To learn more about Barrier-Free Canada’s proposal for a Canadians with Disabilities Act, and its 14 principles for that law.

We encourage one and all to:

* Widely publicize this new commitment by the federal NDP.

* Urge the federal Liberal, Conservative and Bloc Quebecois party leaders and candidates to meet or exceed the NDP’s commitment.

* Let your local media know about this new development.

We thank everyone who has helped at the grassroots to press this issue. Please keep it up as the election campaign continues. For great ideas on how you can help with this non-partisan campaign, check out Barrier-Free Canada’s Election Action Kit.

You can also download, print, and distribute Barrier-Free Canada’s handy 1-page leaflet on the need for the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

2. Follow the September 29, 2015 Toronto All Candidates Forum on Disability Issues Online If You Cannot Attend In Person

We are delighted that the organizers of the September 29, 2015 Toronto All Candidates Forum on Disabilities Issues will be streamed live online. If you cannot attend in person, be sure to follow it online. The link for the online feed of the September 29, 2015 Toronto All Candidates Disability Forum from 6 to 8 pm EST.

If you want to tweet about this event, or follow live tweets about it, be sure to go onto Twitter and follow the hashtag (search term) #AccessFEF

Below we set out the news release from the Candidates Forum’s organizers. As of this time, the federal Conservative party has not indicated a candidate that it will send to this Forum.

New Democratic Party news Release

September 29, 2015

Mulcair will launch National Action Plan and introduce Canadians with Disabilities Act

TORONTO — NDP Candidate Mike Sullivan, York South-Weston, released the NDP Plan for Supporting Canadians with Disabilities.

“Under Stephen Harper, more than half of Canadians with disabilities are unemployed and the waits that Canadians with disabilities face for CPP Disability appeals are longer than ever,” said Sullivan who, prior to the election, served as the NDP Critic for Disability Issues. “Our plan will make Canada more accessible and ensure that Canadians with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in the workforce and everyday life.”

An NDP government will:

  • Introduce a Canadians with Disabilities Act which will seek to eliminate systemic barriers that Canadians with disabilities face;
  • Develop a National Action Plan to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • Work with provinces, territories, indigenous communities and disability organizations to review and coordinate income supports; and
  • Defend the rights of Canadians with disabilities by reinstating the Court Challenges Program and fixing the CPP disability appeals process.

“Nearly 15% of Canadians have some form of disability. Two million Canadians with disabilities do not have access to the supports they need. In a country as wealthy as Canada that’s unacceptable,” continued Sullivan. “Only Tom Mulcair is ready to replace Stephen Harper, and start repairing the damage the Conservatives have done to Ottawa.”


For more information, please contact:

New Democrat Campaign Headquarters:

NDP Press Office: (613) 369-6078 or

New Democratic Party Backgrounder (Footnotes Omitted) Press Release

September 29, 2015
Supporting Canadians with Disabilities

The challenge:

  • One in seven Canadians over the age of 15 has a disability that limits their daily activities.
  • Only 47% of working age adults with a disability are employed, compared to 74% of all working age adults.
  • Working age Canadians with disabilities are twice as likely to be living in poverty compared to Canadians without disabilities.
  • According to the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, two million Canadians do not have access to the supports that they need to fully participate in their community.

Harper’s plan just isn’t working:

  • Nine years after the Conservatives first promised to introduce a National Disability Act, Canadians are still waiting for them to keep their promise.
  • The Conservatives have failed to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Their own progress report to the UN stated that “”there continues to be challenges, including barriers to language and communication, learning and training, and safety and security.”
  • The Conservatives have completely broken the appeal process for Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits, resulting in a huge backlog and wait times of more than five years.

Our commitment:

To support Canadians with disabilities, Tom Mulcair and the NDP will:

  • Introduce a comprehensive Canadians with Disabilities Act to eliminate barriers and to promote accessibility, effective participation, and equality of opportunity for persons living with disabilities;
  • Develop a National Action Plan to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including:
    • Ending Canada’s reservation on Article 12, which addresses legal capacity, and developing mechanisms for supported decision-making; and
    • Ratifying the optional protocol and creating a complaints mechanism;
  • Work with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, and disability organizations to conduct a review of existing income support programs for persons living with disabilities in order to coordinate benefits and increase accessibility;
  • Reinstate the Court Challenges Program;
  • Fix the broken appeal process for Canada Pension Plan disability appeals.


“This is a significant announcement on disability rights and citizenship. The NDP propose substantial initiatives that will advance a fuller measure of dignity, opportunity and equality for Canadians with disabilities.”

Michael J. Prince, Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy, University of Victoria, and author of Absent Citizens: Disability Politics and Policy in Canada.

September 29, 2015 News Release for Disability Issues Candidates Forum

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Federal Parties encouraged to show leadership on disability issues at upcoming forum Toronto, ON– On Tuesday September 29, 2015, community partners invite persons with disabilities, their friends and families to the Federal Election Forum on Accessibility and Disability.

Each party will be asked questions regarding: anti-poverty strategies, accessible housing strategies, physician-assisted dying, record of seeking candidates with disabilities, creation of a Canadian Disabilities Act, commitment to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and other topics.
The moderator for the forum will be disability rights advocate David Lepofsky.

The following candidates/representatives are confirmed to attend: the New Democratic Party – Mike Sullivan, York South—Weston, the Green Party – Sharon Danley, Spadina-Fort York, the Liberal Party –  Arnold Chan, Scarborough-Agincourt.

Organizers are still waiting for confirmation from the Conservative Party.

Some interesting facts about people with disabilities in Canada:

  • In 2012, about 3.8 million people, or 13.7% of Canadians aged 15 and older, reported being limited in their daily activities because of a disability.
  • 50% of adults with disabilities have an annual income of less than $15,000.
  • While 30.8% of people with disabilities live in rental housing, 44% of renters with disabilities live on low incomes compared to 24.7% of their renter counterparts without disabilities.
  • People with disabilities rarely enter politics. Even though 13.7% of the Canadian population has some form of disability, only 0.01% of candidates in the past three elections in every province had a disability.

The forum will be held on Tuesday September 29, 2015 from 6:00p.m. until 8:00p.m. at Ryerson University’s Student Learning Centre at 341 Yonge St (at Gould St.) in Toronto. American Sign Language interpretation, real-time captioning, Deaf interpretation, augmentative communication facilitation and attendant services will be among the services available to ensure full accessibility for participation in the event. Live tweet us your questions using #AccessFEF, Follow us on Twitter: @CIL_Toronto @AccessRyerson @ARCHDisability . Live webstream the forum at:

For more information and to arrange an interview, please contact:

John Mossa, Independent Living Skills Coordinator, Centre for Independent Living in Toronto, at 416-599-2458 ext.238 or

David Meyers, Community Development Manager, Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, 416 396-7606 or