24 Disability Organizations Spanning Five Provinces and Diverse Disabilities Sign Open Letter, Calling on Parliament to Strengthen and Quickly Pass Bill C-22, the Proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

Web: https://www.aodaalliance.org
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Twitter: @aodaalliance
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

November 8, 2022

SUMMARY

An impressive list of 24 disability organizations and groups have all signed an open letter to Canada’s Parliament. It calls for Parliament to quickly strengthen Bill C-22, the proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act, and then quickly pass that law. Read this open letter, below.

This letter’s signatories span five provinces, and people with a diverse spectrum of disabilities. It includes local as well as national organizations. It includes organizations of people with disabilities as well as service-providers.

We invite other disability organizations and groups from anywhere in Canada to contact us to add their names to this open letter. The AODA Alliance will formally present this letter to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities during its November 14, 2022 presentation at that Committee’s public hearings on Bill C-22. If any organization wants to be added to the list of signatories, please email the AODA Alliance at aodafeedback@gmail.com and include the full proper name of your organization.

Please let us know as soon as possible. Also, please encourage other organizations to join this effort by signing this open letter.

We are including organizations but not individuals as signatories to this open letter. If any individuals want to add your support, we welcome it! For individuals, please email the HUMA Committee at HUMA@parl.gc.ca and tell them you support the open letter on Bill C-22 that the AODA Alliance is presenting to that Standing Committee on November 14, 2022.

The open letter, set out below, explains in clear terms how and why we need Bill C-22 to be strengthened. If you want to learn more, check out the following:

* 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 over Bill C-22. * The AODA Alliance brief to the House of Commons on Bill C-22. * Bill C-22 itself, which is painfully short.
* How the first day of HUMA’s public hearings on Bill C-22 on October 31, 2022 shows why this bill needs to be strengthened, and
* The AODA Alliance website’s Bill C-22 page, which shows all our efforts to strengthen this proposed new law.

November 8, 2022 Open Letter Calling for Parliament to Strengthen Bill C-22, the Proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act

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:

1. The age discrimination should be removed from the bill. The Canada Disability Benefit should not only be available to working age people with disabilities.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. The bill should require that none of the Canada Disability Benefit will be clawed back by any federal provincial or territorial government.
6. In the spirit of Nothing about us without us, The bill should require the Government to hold accessible open public consultations on the regulations.

Signatories

1. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance 2. Canadian Council of the Blind
3. Centre for Independent Living in Toronto CILT
4. StopGap Foundation
5. Accessibility Hamilton Alliance
6. Epilepsy Ontario
7. DeafBlind Ontario Services
8. Accessible Housing Network
9. CP Association of Manitoba
10. Canadian National Institute for the Blind CNIB
11. The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Elgin, London, Middlesex, Oxford Network 12. Access for Sight Impaired Consumers (British Columbia) 13. Poverty Free Halton
14. The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians/l’Alliance pour l’Égalité des Personnes Aveugles du Canada 15. Ontario Disability Coalition
16. Barrier-Free Manitoba
17. Disability Collective of Osgoode (at Osgoode Hall Law School) 18. New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (NBCPD) 19. Citizens with Disabilities Ontario CWDO
20. Ontario Autism Coalition
21. Ontario Parents of Visually Impaired Children OPVIC (Also called Views for the Visually Impaired) 22. Barrier-Free Saskatchewan
23. Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
24. Inclusion Action in Ontario