AODA Alliance Seeks Community Organizations and Groups to Co-Sign an Open Letter to the House of Commons that Calls for Immediate Ratification of the Senate’s Amendments to Bill C-22 (the Canada Disability Benefit Act)

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities https://www.aodaalliance.org
aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

May 24, 2023

SUMMARY

Our campaign on Bill C-22 has entered the next phase. We want to get the House of Commons to vote as quickly as possible to ratify the amendments that the Senate recently made to Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act. If the House does so, then Bill C-22 is passed. The sooner the House of Commons does so, the sooner the Government can start paying the Canada Disability Benefit to impoverished people with disabilities who qualify for it.

How can you help? We are eager to get as many community organizations and groups as possible to sign an open letter to the House of Commons. This open letter, set out below, calls on the House of Commons to immediately vote to ratify the amendments that the Senate recently made to Bill C-22. It gives a short summary of the content of the Senate’s helpful amendments to the bill.

If you are part of an organization or group that is willing to sign on, please email us at aodafeedback@gmail.com. We need to hear from a person in a leadership role in your organization or group who has authority to sign on.

Because of logistics, we are including organizations and groups but not individuals as signatories to this letter. If you are an individual who is not part of an organization, you can have your say by emailing as many members of Parliament with the same message. Feel free to cut and paste as much as you want from the open letter set out below. You can also help by getting any community disability or poverty organizations you know to email us and to agree to have their organization listed as a signatory to this open letter. Please share this Update widely.

We already have a good start on lining up organizations who have signed on to this letter. At the end of this update, you can see a list of the 22 signatories that we have as of now. We hope to get more and then to send it to all MPs. Please get back to us as fast as you can.

To learn why it was so important for the Senate to have amended Bill C-22, catch the captioned video of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky addressing a Senate Standing Committee on April 27, 2023. To glance through all the main events in our campaign to strengthen Bill C-22 since last fall, take a look at the AODA Alliance website’s Bill C-22 page.

MORE DETAILS

Open Letter to the House of Commons Calling for It to Immediately Ratify the Senate’s Amendments to Bill C-22 the 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.

We thank the Federal Government for committing in Parliament that no person living with disabilities in Canada should live in poverty, and for introducing into Parliament Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act. We also thank all political parties for voting last February in the House of Commons to pass Bill C-22.

On May 18, 2023 the Senate of Canada passed Bill C-22 with several amendments. These amendments were:

* Prevent insurance companies from clawing back the Canada Disability Benefit from a person with disabilities who receives long-term disability benefits under an insurance policy or employee plan.

* Guarantee that there will be a right of appeal for applicants for the Canada Disability Benefit.

* Require Cabinet to take into account the poverty line, the additional costs of living with a disability, the intersectional disadvantages facing disadvantaged groups, and Canada’s international human rights obligations when deciding how much the Canada Disability Benefit payment will be to impoverished people with disabilities. Before this amendment, the bill required Cabinet to consider only the poverty line.

* Set a 1-year deadline for regulations to be enacted that are necessary to start paying out the Canada Disability Benefit to impoverished people with disabilities.

* Correct an error that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA Committee) inadvertently made last fall when amending Section 14 of the bill which governs when the bill comes into force. Last fall’s HUMA amendment to Section 14 left it unclear when Bill C-22 would come into force. By the Senate’s amendment, the Federal Cabinet can proclaim Bill C-22 in force on a date that it chooses. However, the bill would automatically come into force one year after the bill got Royal Assent if Cabinet had not yet proclaimed it in force.

* Add the following to the bill’s preamble:

“Whereas persons with disabilities may face additional barriers because of their gender, racialized or indigenous status or other intersecting statuses;”.

People with disabilities need Bill C-22 passed as soon as possible. For it to be passed, the House of Commons must vote to ratify the Senate’s amendments to the bill. If the House of Commons votes against ratifying any of the Senate’s amendments, then the bill’s passage will be delayed for months, as it would have to go back to the Senate once again.

The undersigned organizations and groups call on all parties and all MPs in the House of Commons to take these actions:

1. Please agree to schedule an immediate vote in the House of Commons on the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-22.

2. Please vote to ratify all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-22.

3. If any party leader does not commit their own party to vote in favour of ratifying all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-22, we urge that party leader to allow their MPs to have a free vote on the issue. This would let any individual MP in their caucus vote in favour of ratifying all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-22.

Signatories

1. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance 2. 2. ARCH Disability Law Centre
3. Ontario Disability Coalition
4. New Brunswick Coalition of persons with Disabilities 5. Ontario Parents of Visually Impaired Children
6. Accessibility Hamilton Alliance
7. Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
8. Millions Missing Canada
9. Daily Bread Food Bank
10. Thunder Bay Family Network
11. FAIR Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform 12. Canadian Council of the Blind
13. Income Security Advocacy Centre
14. Canadian National Institute for the Blind
15. Access for Sight Impaired Consumers
16. Income Security Advocacy Centre
17. ODSP Action Coalition
18. Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
19. Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba
20. The Reena Foundation
21. ASE Community Foundation for Black Canadians with Disabilities 22. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Elgin, London, Middlesex, Oxford Network