Despite Massive Pressure From People with Disabilities from Coast to Coast, Trudeau Government is Shockingly Silent on Whether it Will Agree to Ratify All the Senate’s Amendments to Bill C-22 (the Canada Disability Benefit Act) when it is Tabled in the House of Commons on Wednesday


June 12, 2023, Toronto: The Trudeau Government is finally bringing Bill C-22 (the Canada Disability Benefit Act) back before the House of Commons on Wednesday, but it is shockingly silent on whether it will agree to ratify all the amendments that the Senate made to this bill last month to strengthen it. Hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities who languish in chronic poverty need the Government to agree to ratify all these amendments. Otherwise, Prime Minister Trudeau will subject this bill to months of further delay, as it would have to be sent back to the Senate for more debate.

The Federal Government commendably pledged that no people with disabilities in Canada should ever live in poverty. It offered this bill to create a new social benefit, the Canada Disability Benefit, to lift eligible people with disabilities out of poverty.

People with disabilities from coast to coast are feverishly mounting massive pressure on the Trudeau Government to ratify all the Senate’s amendments now. The impressive number of organizations that have signed a compelling May 29, 2023, open letter to the House of Commons has grown beyond 44. In a separate effort, an additional dozen disability organizations that have been working closely with the bill’s sponsor, Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough, sent another letter to Parliament calling for this bill to be passed and to receive Royal Assent before Parliament rises for the summer. That can only happen if the House ratifies all the Senate’s amendments to this bill. Many people with disabilities have emailed and tweeted MPs to ratify the Senate’s amendments. Four senators issued a news release on June 8, summarizing key Senate amendments and showing why their ratification is so important.

“We are baffled by the refusal of the Trudeau Government to tell us whether it will agree to ratify all the Senate’s amendments, since a failure to ratify them will delay this bill for months, contrary to the Government’s pledges that swiftly passing this bill is a priority,” said David Lepofsky, Chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, one of the grass roots organizations that advocated for the Senate’s amendments. “It is hard to square the Trudeau Government’s refusal to tell us its position with its repeated pledges to work closely with the disability community on the Canada Disability Benefit.”

Disability advocates are especially concerned to make sure that the House of Commons ratifies a Senate amendment that would prohibit private insurance companies from clawing back the Canada Disability Benefit from people with disabilities who receive private long-term disability insurance benefits. If the Trudeau Government does not ratify that Senate amendment, then, in the case of private long-term disability benefit recipients, federal money can wrongly end up going into the profits of rich insurance companies instead of to impoverished people with disabilities.

“The Federal Government has all the power it needs to ensure that money that it intends to lift people with disabilities out of poverty does not instead lift the profits of private insurance companies,” said Lepofsky. “Legal experts, backed by every provincial Trial Lawyers’ Association in Canada, have given the Senate and the House of Commons compelling arguments how and why the House of Commons should ratify this Senate amendment.”

Contact: David Lepofsky
Twitter: @aodaalliance

For more background, check out:

* The June 8, 2023 news release by four senators calling for the immediate ratification of the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-22.
* AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s May 29, 2023 guest column in the Toronto Star’s Metroland newspapers. * The AODA Alliance website’s Bill C-22 page.