ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Trudeau Government’s Proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act Must Be Strengthened, Disability Coalition to Tell House of Commons Standing Committee Today, Tabling Open Letter From 37 Diverse Organizations Spanning six Provinces
November 14, 2022 Ottawa:
Today at public hearings streamed live starting 3:30 pm EST, in Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street, Ottawa, the non-partisan grass roots AODA Alliance will press HUMA, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, to amend the weak Bill C-22 (the proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act). They want to ensure that it lifts hundreds of thousand of people with disabilities out of poverty, as the Trudeau Government promised. A powerful open letter supporting this message will be tabled, signed by 37 organizations and groups spanning six provinces, and people with a wide spectrum of different disabilities.
Buoyed by a strong supportive editorial in the November 7, 2022 Toronto Star, this disability coalition will applaud the creation of a long-overdue Canada Disability Benefit, but will slam the weak Bill C-22 as full of holes, because it:
- Sets no minimum amount for the Canada Disability Benefit or a start date for the Government to start paying it, and doesn’t ensure it is indexed to inflation. It could be delayed for years and only amount to $1 per month.
- Excludes almost one third of people with disabilities age 15 or older from qualifying for the Canada Disability Benefit solely because of their age, and regardless of their poverty. The Benefit can only be paid to “working-age” people with disabilities. Disproportionately, people with disabilities are seniors. Disability poverty doesn’t end at 65.
- Gives Cabinet arbitrary power to make all the decisions if and when it wishes, over the size of the Benefit, when it will start, how much if any it will be increased due to inflation, and who is eligible for it. It imposes no deadlines for Cabinet to ever act.
- Lets a future Cabinet unilaterally gut the Benefit, voting in a secret Cabinet meeting.
“Far too many people with disabilities languish in poverty. They deserve swift, strong Federal Government action to fix this,” said David Lepofsky, Chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance which spearheads the campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario. “Bill C-22 is too weak. Under it, no people with disabilities may ever receive a Canada Disability Benefit, no matter how impoverished they are. If they do receive a Canada Disability Benefit, it could be a pittance, and could be unilaterally cut or reduced at any time. People with disabilities deserve better!”
The open letter offers 6 practical recommendations to strengthen the bill and speed up getting money to the pockets of the impoverished. It calls on Canada’s minority Parliament to work together to swiftly fix the bill and then pass it.
“People with disabilities should not be forced to simply hope and trust that Cabinet will quickly bring forward strong regulations, once this bill is passed,” said Lepofsky. “In a strikingly similar situation, we’ve seen the Federal Government move far too slowly to enact regulations needed to implement the Accessible Canada Act.”
The Standing Committee has already heard uncontradicted, unchallenged evidence that too many people with disabilities have said that to escape their unbearable poverty, they are considering resorting to doctor-assisted suicide. Parliament acted far more quickly to liberalize doctor-assisted suicide. It should instead do far more, and act far more quickly, to help impoverished people with disabilities successfully live.
- The AODA Alliance brief to the House of Commons on Bill C-22.
- The AODA Alliance’s guest column in the November 7, 2022 edition of the Toronto Star, and the powerful Toronto Star editorial that day that cites the AODA Alliance’s concerns with Bill C-22.
- The painfully short Bill C-22
- An analysis of how the first day of HUMA’s public hearings on Bill C-22 on October 31, 2022, and the hearings’ second day on November 2, 2022 together show why this bill needs to be strengthened, and
- The AODA Alliance website’s Bill C-22 page, which shows our efforts to strengthen this proposed new law.
November 14, 2022 Open Letter on Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act
To: The Parliament of Canada
Far too many people with disabilities now languish in poverty. We, the undersigned organizations and groups, commend the Government of Canada for committing to create a new Canada Disability Benefit. It is needed to lift people with disabilities in Canada out of poverty.
However, Bill C-22 is too weak. For example:
- It does not ensure that there ever will be a Canada Disability Benefit. It sets no deadline for this Benefit to start to be paid.
- It does not set a minimum dollar amount for the Canada Disability Benefit or ensure that it will increase with inflation.
- It disqualifies almost one third of people with disabilities in Canada from receiving the Canada Disability Benefit because of their age, no matter how poor they are. Disability poverty does not end at 65.
- It lets the federal Cabinet decide in secret all the specifics, including the amount, who qualifies for it, and when it will be paid. A future Cabinet could gut it in a secret vote, with no public debate.
We urge that Bill C-22 be swiftly strengthened and then swiftly passed. To get money into the pockets of impoverished people with disabilities as quickly as possible, we request these priority amendments. This letter’s signatories and others may also seek additional worthy amendments. They should be considered. This list is not intended to exclude any other requests. The bill should be amended to do the following:
- The age discrimination should be removed from the bill. The Canada Disability Benefit should not only be available to “working age” people with disabilities.
- The bill should set a mandatory minimum or floor amount for the Canada Disability Benefit, annually indexed to inflation, and a mandatory start date by which it must begin to be paid. Cabinet should be able to raise it, but not lower it.
- The bill should set mandatory specifics on such things as who is eligible for the Canada Disability Benefit that regulations cannot contradict. The bill should not leave this all to regulations to be made by Cabinet.
- The bill should impose a timeline by which the Cabinet must have made the regulations that are necessary for the Canada Disability Benefit to come into effect.
- The bill should require that none of the Canada Disability Benefit will be clawed back by any federal provincial or territorial government.
- In the spirit of “Nothing about us without us,” The bill should require the Government to hold accessible open public consultations on the regulations.
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
- Canadian Council of the Blind
- Centre for Independent Living in Toronto CILT
- StopGap Foundation
- Accessibility Hamilton Alliance
- Epilepsy Ontario
- DeafBlind Ontario Services
- Accessible Housing Network
- CP Association of Manitoba
- Canadian National Institute for the Blind CNIB
- The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – Elgin, London, Middlesex, Oxford Network
- Access for Sight Impaired Consumers (British Columbia)
- Poverty Free Halton
- The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians/l’Alliance pour l’Égalité des Personnes Aveugles du Canada
- Ontario Disability Coalition
- Barrier-Free Manitoba
- Disability Collective of Osgoode (at Osgoode Hall Law School)
- New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (NBCPD)
- Citizens with Disabilities Ontario CWDO
- Ontario Autism Coalition
- Ontario Parents of Visually Impaired Children (Also called Views for the Visually Impaired)
- Barrier-Free Saskatchewan
- Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
- Inclusion Action in Ontario
- Abilities Manitoba
- Autism Ontario
- Balance for Blind Adults
- FAIR (Fair Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform)
- Millions Missing Canada
- Canada without Poverty
- Voice of Albertans with Disabilities
- Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty
- Canadian Epilepsy Alliance
- Basic Income Manitoba Inc./ Revenu de Base Manitoba
- Oakville and District Labour Council
- Coalition Canada Basic Income-revenue de base
- Thunder Bay Family Network