The AODA Alliance Submits a Brief 5-Page Brief to the House of Commons, Urging that It Strengthen the Weak Bill C-22, the Proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update


United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities




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The AODA Alliance Submits a Brief 5-Page Brief to the House of Commons, Urging that It Strengthen the Weak Bill C-22, the Proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act


October 27, 2022




We’ve just shrunk the AODA Alliance brief to Parliament on Bill C-22, the proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act, down to a mere five pages! We set it out below. Bill C-22 does not ensure that anyone will ever receive a dime as a Canada Disability Benefit. It cuts out almost one third of people with disabilities over the age of 15, no matter how poor they are. It leaves all decisions over the Canada Disability Benefit to the federal Cabinet, discussing and voting in secret. It would let a future Cabinet gut the Canada Disability Benefit in secret as well, without a single word or vote in public. People with disabilities languishing in poverty deserve better.


The House of Commons will not accept a brief that is longer than five pages! This brief includes all the major points in the longer October 17, 2022, AODA Alliance brief on Bill C-22.


Can you believe it? This is really a brief! That ruins our reputation for briefs that are not very brief!


Please write the Standing Committee of the House of Commons that is about to hold hearings on the weak Bill C-22. Please support the AODA Alliance’s October 27, 2022 brief on Bill C-22. Tell HUMA to let the AODA Alliance make an oral presentation during the Standing Committee’s public hearings. We have asked to be able to do so but have not heard if we will be given that opportunity.


You can catch up on all our activity to strengthen this weak bill! Visit the AODA Alliance website’s Bill C-22 page.





Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Website: Contact:

Strengthen Bill C-22!

The AODA Alliance, a non-partisan grassroots cross-disability coalition, advocates for accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. We have had a major impact on Ontario’s and Canada’s accessibility legislation.


It is great that the Government committed to create a national Canada Disability Benefit. However, under the weak Bill C-22, no people with disabilities may ever receive a Canada Disability Benefit, no matter how impoverished. It could be a pittance. It could be cut or reduced at any time. Bill C-22 should be substantially strengthened and then quickly passed. Our 12 recommendations will fix it. We cannot just hope that Cabinet promptly passes good regulations, and that no future Cabinet undoes them.


It is inexcusable that some people with disabilities have said that because of their abject poverty, they are turning to or considering doctor-assisted suicide to cope with their hopeless plight. Parliament acted far more swiftly to amend the Criminal Code to broaden the power of physicians to assist people with disabilities to commit suicide. Parliament should act much more quickly to pass effective legislation that makes it easier to live with a disability.


1.     The Bill Wrongly Excludes Almost One Third of People with Disabilities Age 15 or Older from the Canada Disability Benefit Solely Because of Age.


The bill cuts out children, youth and seniors with disabilities, solely because of their age. This rejects almost one third of all people with disabilities age 15 or older from the Canada Disability Benefit. Poverty does not end at age 65. Income supports for seniors have not eliminated poverty among seniors with disabilities. Disproportionately, seniors have disabilities. People with disabilities disproportionately are seniors.


We therefore recommend that:


#1. The bill should be amended throughout to delete the words “working-age.”


2.     The Bill’s Purpose is Impoverished


The bill’s impoverished purpose merely attempts to “reduce” poverty for those people with disabilities that it covers. The slightest inconsequential reduction of poverty for those poor people would fully achieve this weak objective. It does not require disability poverty to be eliminated, or even cut in half or by one quarter. This purpose sets no deadline. Generations of people with disabilities could be left languishing in poverty.


A significant improvement to the Accessible Canada Act at the insistence of the disability community was the addition of the 2040 deadline for Canada to become accessible to people with disabilities. The lack of such a deadline was widely condemned by disability advocates throughout public hearings on that bill in the House of Commons and Senate.


We therefore recommend that:


#2. Section 3 should be amended to:

  1. Substantially strengthen the bill’s purpose, so that its purpose is to achieve the elimination of poverty by people with disabilities, or to substantially reduce it, or at the very least, to cut it in half, and
  2. To set a deadline for achieving the bill’s purpose, such as within ten years.


3.     No Person with a Disability is Guaranteed that They Are Eligible for the Canada Disability Benefit


The bill wrongly establishes no eligibility criteria at all. Under it, no people with disabilities, including no working-age people with disabilities, are entitled to a Canada Disability Benefit. It delegates to Cabinet the sweeping discretion to set the eligibility criteria through regulations.


Cabinet’s eligibility regulations could substantially reduce which people with disabilities are entitled to the Canada Disability Benefit to an even smaller proportion of people with disabilities than those which the bill includes within the term “working-age people with disabilities.”


Those regulations are not subject to any public debates, public hearings, or public votes. Even in a minority government, the opposition is entirely excluded from this process. People with disabilities won’t know from one year to the next what benefits they can expect to receive. At a secret Cabinet meeting, a subsequent Cabinet or Government could arbitrarily and unilaterally gut the eligibility requirements that a previous Cabinet had established. It could also do that with no public debate, public hearings, public vote, or participation by any opposition parties.


We therefore recommend that:


#3. Section 4 should be amended to:

  1. Set mandatory statutory criteria for who is eligible for the Canada Disability Benefit.
  2. Ensure that if any limited discretion is granted to Cabinet to enact regulations on eligibility criteria, those regulations must be strictly limited. They must not override the mandatory criteria to be set out in the bill itself or disqualify persons with disabilities from the benefit, who meet the bill’s statutory criteria.


4.     The Bill Does Not Guarantee a Minimum Amount of the Canada Disability Benefit


The bill does not set out the actual amount of the Canada Disability Benefit, or fix a minimum floor amount below which it cannot be dropped. It gives Cabinet complete open-ended discretion to set it as high or low as it wishes. It could be as low as $1 per month. The bill lets Cabinet reduce it whenever it wishes, in secret, without any public debate or vote.


The bill does not require any fixed timeline for the amount to be reconsidered or raised. It provides no protection against it being reduced. It does not require the Canada Disability Benefit to annually be indexed to inflation. It provides no public accountability for any of this. It is a blank cheque handed to Cabinet to give people with disabilities as little as Cabinet wishes.


We therefore recommend that:


#4. The bill should be amended to:

  1. Set a mandatory minimum amount for the Canada Disability Benefit in the legislation, and provide that the Canada Disability Benefit can not be lowered by regulation.
  2. Require Cabinet to annually review the Benefit’s amount, according to strict criteria to be spelled out in the bill, solely tied to the bill’s goal regarding disability poverty.
  3. Require public accountability and openness in connection with the review of the amount, with the outcome to be announced within a prompt legislatively set timeline.
  4. Require Cabinet to annually raise the amount of the Canada Disability Benefit at least to accord with the inflation rate for the previous year.


5.     The Bill Does Not Ensure that People with Disabilities Will Have a Swift, Fair, Accessible, Non-Bureaucratic Process to Apply for the Canada Disability Benefit or Appeal a Refusal


The bill does not establish the process for people with disabilities to apply for the Canada Disability Benefit, or to appeal a refusal. It is important for these to be fair, accessible, swift, easy to navigate and non-bureaucratic.


We therefore recommend that:


#5. The bill should be amended to establish a swift, fair, barrier-free, easy to navigate and non-bureaucratic process for people with disabilities to apply for the Canada Disability Benefit, and to appeal any refusal.


6.     The Bill Wrongly Gives Cabinet Power to Create Prosecutable Offences


Section 11(q) gives Cabinet the extraordinary power to create a host of prosecutable offences. Conviction could lead to a fine and/or imprisonment. If there are to be any new offences for which a person can be prosecuted, convicted and then fined or sent to prison, it should be Parliament that creates them, and not Cabinet, debating and voting in secret. The intrusive power to create a prosecutable offence that can lead to imprisonment is the most intrusive power that Parliament has.


We therefore recommend that:


#6. The Bill should be amended to remove Cabinet’s power to pass regulations that create prosecutable offences. Any offences should only be created by the bill itself.


7.     The Bill Guarantees No Date for the Bill to Come into Force and for the Canada Disability Benefit to Become Available to People with Disabilities


Section 14 of the bill leaves it to Cabinet to decide when, if ever, this bill will come into force. It sets no timelines for the Disability Benefit to become available. It sets no timelines by when necessary regulations must be passed.


People with disabilities waited far too long for a Canada Disability Benefit. We pressed for the Accessible Canada Act to include mandatory timelines. Despite this, very few were included. As a result, progress under that legislation has been painfully slow. People with disabilities should not face the risk of similar delays under this bill.


We therefore recommend that:


#7. Section 14 should be amended to provide that the bill comes into force no later than three months after Parliament passes the bill.

#8. The bill should be amended to set a deadline for the Canada Disability Benefit to become available.

#9. The bill should be amended to set mandatory deadlines for necessary regulations to be enacted.


8.     The Bill Guarantees the Disability Community No Meaningful Voice in this Bill’s Implementation


It is very good that the bill’s preamble refers to the importance of the Government engaging with people with disabilities when it implements this bill. However, nothing in this bill implements that. For example, all Cabinet’s powers under this bill, exercised in secret, with no public debate or vote, contradicts those good thoughts.


We therefore recommend that:


#10. The bill should be amended to require effective input from people with disabilities, and especially from those living in poverty, without creating months or years of further delays in the Canada Disability Benefit being paid to people who desperately need it.


9.      The Bill Should Be Subject to Periodic Mandatory Independent Reviews, But Not by a Parliamentary Committee Which May Never Be Appointed


It is good that this bill would be reviewed over time. However, the first review should take place three years after it is enacted, not five. Moreover, the review should be conducted by an independent person appointed for that purpose, and who must hold public hearings, not a committee of Parliament. There is no way for people with disabilities to force Parliament to ever appoint a review committee if the Government of the day does not establish one. Moreover, in a majority government situation, a parliamentary committee is fully controlled by the majority party in the House. This provides no independent check or balance.


We therefore recommend that:


#11. Section 12 should be amended to require an Independent Review to be conducted by an independent person, appointed for that purpose, who has a duty to consult people with disabilities and to hold public hearings, with the first such review to begin within three years after the bill is passed.