Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance UpdateUnited for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
On Second Reading, the House of Commons Unanimously Voted for Bill C-22, the Proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act – AODA Alliance Asks Standing Committee to Permit It to Make Oral Presentation on How to Strengthen This Weak Bill
October 21, 2022
On October 18, 2022, the House of Commons unanimously voted for Bill C-22, the proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act. It now goes to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (also called the HUMA Committee). The HUMA Committee first holds hearings to get input from the public on the bill. After that, MP’s can propose amendments to the bill, during the Standing Committee’s “clause-by-clause” debate. When that is all done, the bill, with any amendments, goes back to the full House of Commons for Third Reading debates and vote.
Want to know the step-by-step of how a bill goes through Parliament? Check out the AODA Alliance’s handy introductory guide to how Parliament passes legislation, which we made public when Parliament was about to debate the Accessible Canada Act.
The HUMA Committee is expected to hold four sessions of public hearings on the bill. It is anticipated that these will start on October 31, 2022.
We have had to move fast. Below, we’ve written to all the members of HUMA, to ask for a chance to make a presentation. The letter includes at the bottom the AODA Alliance’s October 17, 2022 brief to Parliament on Bill C-22. We did not repeat it in this Update. The brief summarizes our concerns with Bill C-22 as follows:
- “The bill leaves out and provides nothing for almost one third of people with disabilities who are age 15 or older, solely because of their age. This is because it only allows the Canada Disability Benefit to be available to “working-age” people with disabilities. Among those whom it leaves out are seniors, children and youth with disabilities. Disproportionately, people with disabilities are seniors.
- The bill guarantees nothing whatsoever to people with disabilities. Everything is left to the absolute discretion of the federal Cabinet, working in secret, and holding no public debates or votes.
- Under the bill, Cabinet might never create the Canada Disability Benefit. Cabinet could create it, but make it as low as $1 per month. A Future Cabinet could reduce it even more.
- The bill lets Cabinet define which “working-age” people with disabilities are eligible for the Canada Disability Benefit. Cabinet could only make a small fraction of working-age people with disabilities eligible for it.
- The bill lets Cabinet make regulations, if and when it wishes, to set the amount of the Canada Disability Benefit, to decide who is eligible for it, and to create an appeal process for those who apply for it and are refused. It does not require that Cabinet ever make any of these regulations, or that they be any good. It sets no deadline for Cabinet to make these regulations. Cabinet may choose to never make any of these regulations. A future Cabinet could go behind closed doors and make new regulations that overturn anything that the current Cabinet chooses to do. That could wipe out in one secret vote all of what was gained under this bill.
- The bill does not ensure that there is a swift, fair, non-bureaucratic and accessible way for people with disabilities to apply for the Canada Disability Benefit, or a fair and swift appeal process for people who apply for it, and are refused it.
- The bill’s stated purpose is itself impoverished. It does not seek to eliminate poverty among people with disabilities. It does not even seek to significantly reduce poverty facing people with disabilities. It only aims to “reduce” that poverty. The most tiny improvement for people with disabilities would entirely fulfil that paltry goal.”
Any community disability organizations or groups should consider applying to present at HUMA.
Text of October 20, 2022 Letter from the AODA Alliance to Members of the House of Commons Committee to Hold Hearings on Bill C-22
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
October 20, 2022
To: Members of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
House of Commons of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Dear HUMA Members,
Re: Bill C-22 The proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance requests an opportunity to make a presentation to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities at its upcoming public hearings on Bill C-22, the proposed Canada Disability Benefits Act. Our position is set out in our brief, which is set out below.
The AODA Alliance is a volunteer non-partisan grassroots community cross-disability coalition. We have advocated in Ontario since 2005 for the effective implementation and enforcement of Canada’s first comprehensive provincial accessibility law, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. We are the successor to the community coalition that successfully campaigned from 1994 to 2005 for the AODA’s enactment. We have advised many, including several provinces, a United Nations conference, the European Union, Israel and New Zealand.
In 2018 and 2019, we actively advocated for amendments to Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. This included in-person presentations to both The HUMA Committee and the Senate’s Standing Committee that held hearings on Bill C-81. Our input contributed to amendments to that bill, and was echoed by a number of other disability organizations and groups. Our input was also referred to in positive terms during debates in the House of Commons and the Senate on that bill. See our website’s Canada page for our extensive federal advocacy efforts.
In Ontario, every election commitment since 2005 on accessibility for people with disabilities during provincial elections have been made via correspondence to the AODA Alliance. The media regularly turn to us for input and public comment on a wide spectrum of major disability issues.
If we are allowed to present to the HUMA Committee, we will focus on key ways to strengthen Bill C-22, as our brief, set out below, demonstrates.
Please contact me if I can provide any further assistance.
David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance