What Do the Major Federal Political Parties Commit to Do in Their Published Election Platforms to Make Canada Accessible for Six Million People with Disabilities?

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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What Do the Major Federal Political Parties Commit to Do in Their Published Election Platforms to Make Canada Accessible for Six Million People with Disabilities?

August 27, 2021

        SUMMARY

In the current federal election, what are the major national political parties promising to do, if elected, to make Canada accessible for people with disabilities? On August 3, 2021, we wrote the major parties to ask them to make 12 specific commitments. With less than a month left before voting day, none of the party leaders have written us back to make any commitments in response.

We have reviewed the publicly-posted platforms of the major national parties in this election to see if they make any commitments there on this issue. We set out below what we found. We emphasize that accessibility for people with disabilities is only one of the important disability issues in this federal election. The major national parties’ platforms have things to say on other issues that affect people with disabilities, beyond those excerpted below.

We will make public any commitments we receive in response to our requests. As always, we do not support or oppose any party or candidate. We urge all parties to make the commitments on disability accessibility that we seek.

The AODA Alliance is now tweeting as many federal candidates as we can to try to get them to make strong commitments on accessibility. Please follow @aodaalliance and @davidlepofsky on Twitter and retweet the tweets you find there. This will help put pressure on the candidates to make strong commitments.

2021 National Federal Parties’ Platform Key Excerpts on Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Liberal Party

More Accessible Workplaces and Schools

We will make it easier for people with disabilities to work or attend school.

Across Canada, nearly 650,000 people with disabilities have the potential to work or attend school, but aren’t able to do so because they don’t have access to the accommodations that would make this possible.

To help more people with disabilities go to school, enter the workforce, and join the middle class, we will move forward with a new $40 million per year national workplace accessibility fund, with a special focus on making small and medium-sized businesses more accessible. This fund will match costs with employers and schools, providing up to a combined $10,000 to cover the cost of an accommodation.

Employers and schools will continue to be required to meet their accessibility obligations under provincial and federal law. (Page 13)

New Democratic Party

Removing barriers for persons living with disabilities

We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally, with the power to make and enforce accessibility standards in a timely manner.

To help tackle the unacceptable rate of poverty among Canadians living with a disability and ensure that everyone has the chance to thrive and live in dignity, we will expand income security programs to ensure Canadians living with a disability have a guaranteed livable income. While the Liberal government spends years talking about a new federal disability benefit, New Democrats will get to work immediately to deliver it.

When it comes to employment, everyone deserves a fair shot at a good job that fits their unique abilities. A New Democrat government will continue and expand employment programs to make sure that quality employment opportunities are available to all.

For Canadians facing a serious illness, we’ll make Employment Insurance work better by extending sickness benefits to 50 weeks of coverage, and creating a pilot project to allow workers with episodic disabilities to access benefits as they need them.

Canadians living with disabilities shouldn’t need to worry about the cost of prescription medication, dental work, how to find housing, or how to get their mail. In addition to putting in place a universal, publicly funded national pharmacare and dental care program that will offer full benefits to all Canadians, a New Democrat government will restore door-to door mail delivery for those who lost it under the Conservatives, and create affordable, accessible housing in communities across the country.

Finally, we will work with Autistic Canadians to develop and implement a national Autism strategy that will coordinate support for research, ensure access to needs-based services, promote employment, and help expand housing options. (Page 62)

Conservative Party

Breaking Down Barriers for Canadians Living with Disabilities

One in five Canadians lives with a disability. They need our support – to live full lives and participate fully in society, including in the workforce. Canada’s Conservatives have a plan to break down the barriers faced by Canadians living with disabilities.

Doubling Disability Support in the Canada Workers Benefit

A disproportionate number of disabled Canadians are working part-time or for low wages.

  • Canada’s Conservatives will double the Disability Supplement in the Canada Workers Benefit from $713 to $1,500, providing a major boost to lower-income disabled Canadians on top of our increase in the Canada Workers Benefit. The most help will go to families where one member has a disability. We will help them achieve the security and financial independence they deserve.

Making Work Pay

Canada’s Conservatives will ensure that going to work never costs a disabled person money – as is too often the case today. The complex web of programs in place today means that someone can lose more than a dollar in benefit cuts and       higher taxes for every dollar they earn by working. This means               that for many disabled Canadians, the harder they work, the poorer they become.

This is simply wrong.

We will overhaul the complex array of disability supports and benefits to ensure that working always leaves someone further ahead. And we will work with the provinces to ensure that federal programs are designed to work with provincial programs to achieve this result.

This will augment the effect of our increase to the Canada Workers Benefit, which will help make work pay for disabled Canadians by boosting the        benefits of work.

Boosting the Enabling Accessibility Fund

We will  provide  an additional $80 million per year through the Enabling Accessibility Fund to provide:

  • Additional incentives for small business and community projects to improve accessibility.
  • Grants and support for all types of accessibility equipment that disabled Canadians need to work.
  • Enhancements to existing programs that will get more disabled Canadians into the workforce.

Making it Easier to Qualify for the Disability Tax Credit and Registered Disability Savings Plan

To give more Canadians with disabilities access to financial support, we will reduce the number of hours required to qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) and the Registered Disability Savings Plan from 14 to 10 hours per week.

In 2017, Justin Trudeau took away the support that thousands of Canadians relied on when he changed how Canadians qualify for the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan. To some, this credit was worth thousands of dollars. Conservatives joined diabetes advocates to successfully fight back against this tax grab.

Our changes will save a disabled person made eligible for the tax credit or their family an average of $2,100 per year. Making it easier to qualify for the tax credit will also make it easier to qualify for the RDSP, which provides up to $3,500 per year in matching grants for Canadians with disabilities. (Pages 135-136)