To Mark National AccessAbility Week, 37 Disability Organizations Spanning Five Provinces and Diverse Disabilities Sign Open Letter, Calling on House of Commons to Immediately Ratify All Senate Amendments to Bill C-22 (the Canada Disability Benefit Act), So it At Last Becomes Law

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 29, 2023 Toronto: An impressive list of 37 diverse disability organizations and groups have signed an open letter to the House of Commons, unveiled today. It calls on MPs to hold an immediate vote to ratify amendments to Bill C-22, the proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act, that the Senate recently passed so it finishes its long journey through Parliament and becomes law.

Hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities in Canada now languish in chronic poverty. They need the House of Commons to immediately ratify the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-22. The Federal Government pledged that no people with disabilities in Canada should ever live in poverty. They offered this bill to create a new social benefit, the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB), to lift eligible people with disabilities out of poverty.

If the House of Commons votes to ratify the Senate’s amendments, which are summarized in this open letter, Bill C-22 will be passed. If the House does not ratify them, the bill will be delayed for months as it goes back to the Senate for further consideration and debate.

“The best way for all parties in the House of Commons to honour this National AccessAbility Week is to vote now to ratify all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-22,” said David Lepofsky, volunteer chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance which spearheaded this open letter. “This bill has been exhaustively debated in both the House of Commons and Senate, and was the subject of two thorough sets of public hearings, so it’s time to just get on with it and pass the bill!”

Assembled in just days as a volunteer effort with no paid staff, this letter’s signatories span fully five provinces, and people with a diverse spectrum of disabilities. The signatories are local organizations as well as national ones. It includes organizations of people with disabilities as well as service-providers.

Contact: David Lepofsky
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Twitter: @aodaalliance
AODA Alliance Bill C-22 Page: www.aodaalliance.org/c22

May 29, 2023 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:

* 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 must 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. 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. ODSP Action Coalition
17. Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
18. Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba
19. The Reena Foundation
20. ASE Community Foundation for Black Canadians with Disabilities 21. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Elgin, London, Middlesex, Oxford Network 22. POOF Protecting ODSP OW Funding
23. Coalition Canada Basic Income-revenu de base
24. Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities
25. Learning Disabilities Association Canada Association canadienne des troubles d’apprentissage 26. Silent Voice Canada
27. Thunder Bay & District Injured Workers Support Group
28. Ontario Network of Injured Worker’s Groups
29. Ecohesian
30. Centre for Independent Living in Toronto CILT
31. Fibromyalgia Association Canada (FAC)
32. Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty
33. Ontario Para Network
34. Xenia Concerts
35. Hand Over Hand Community Organization
36. Ontario Autism Coalition
37. Connected Hearts Helping Canada