Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Blake Richards Profile
View Blake Richards Profile
2019-06-05 14:56 [p.28583]
Mr. Speaker, under the Liberals, the national debt is growing by over $2 million an hour, yet it is not stopping them from finding new ways to squander Canadians' hard-earned tax dollars.
First, the Liberals gave Loblaws $12 million for fridges. Now it is giving $50 million to an investment fund that when asked if it needed the money, said “No, but it's great to have it”. Those are words that most Canadian small businesses would only dream of being able to say.
Why are the Liberals handing out money to giant companies that literally do not need it, instead of helping small businesses by reducing taxes and cutting red tape?
View Joël Lightbound Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Joël Lightbound Profile
2019-06-05 14:57 [p.28583]
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise in the House to remind the member opposite that our plan, unlike theirs for 10 years, has been working for Canadians. While the Conservatives were giving tax break after tax break to the wealthiest, we decided to take a different approach and give more to those who needed it most.
We have reduced taxes for the middle class. We have made the Canada child benefit the most progressive social policy in a generation, which has lifted hundreds of thousands of kids out of poverty and reduced poverty in the country by 20%.
I know that was never the policy intent of the Conservatives. That was never their intent to reduce inequalities in the country. We are taking that very seriously.
View Dan Albas Profile
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford has pointed out that the Liberals are now trying to hold the NDP to its electoral promises, when they break so many of their own. It is quite funny.
Bill C-97, the omnibus legislation, includes a few things on which both of our ridings would agree, although we probably would want to have some discussions on them.
The first is that the Canadian Credit Union Association was promised two red tape reduction measures in the budget. There is only one in it. What does the member think about that?
Second, instead of actively campaigning to work with provincial premiers to open up the wines of his region and my region, the federal government is abdicating completely. It has eliminated any reference in the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act in the omnibus bill. Then they are trying to sell it like they are somehow opening up opportunities. Really what they are doing is abdicating the field. What does the member think about that part and what do these things mean for his riding?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have a been a proud member of a credit union for a number of years, simply because I find it is more responsive to the needs of local communities. Credit unions have local representation. They are involved in this. They make those investments that really matter. They have democratic control over how policies are made.
I would love nothing more than for the House of Commons to enjoy the fine wines of the Cowichan region, whether it is Emandare, or Averill Creek or a whole host of others. I know our two regions are certainly big wine producing regions in British Columbia. I wish people in other provinces could enjoy the fruits of labour of the incredible farmers we both have.
Yes, there are missed opportunities. I am glad the member highlighted those facts. It is important to remind Canadians of what we could have achieved with this opportunity in the dying days of the 42nd Parliament.
View Dean Allison Profile
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-04 22:54 [p.28562]
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that Conservatives will be supporting the bill.
Bill C-93 would make changes to the pardon process and waive the fee for Canadians with a past conviction of simple cannabis possession. It would allow people convicted of possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis to apply for free to have their record suspended. It typically costs $631 for someone to apply for a record suspension. In light of the legalization of cannabis in October of last year, the bill seeks to assist Canadians who were criminally charged for something that has now been rendered legal.
Having said that, it is important to discuss some concerns we have had with the bill along the way.
The government has received significant criticism as to how it has handled matters relating to cannabis in the aftermath of legalizing it. For example, last year, the government confirmed there is no conclusive way to determine if someone is driving high. This left our law enforcement officials in limbo, with several police forces across the country refusing to use government-approved testers.
In addition, the safety concerns of employers, workers and indigenous communities have not been addressed. To add to that, the Prime Minister has failed to explain how his plan would keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals. Also, the lack of public education has left many Canadians unsure of the new rules and how this would impact border crossings between Canada and the United States.
The uneven rules by the government for every province, territory, and municipality have created uncertainty and confusion from coast to coast. The bill is an attempt to address the record suspension issue that was left outstanding since the legalization of cannabis, but there are still many other aspects of the legalization of cannabis that need the government's attention. However, I am glad to see it is finally starting somewhere.
With respect to these issues, the end result the government has come up with is a new category of record suspensions that cannot be easily revoked and can be granted automatically without much insight into an individual's history. To be more specific, if an individual were to reoffend, the record suspension received for the charge of simple possession is difficult to reverse.
On this side of the House, we support the idea of expedited pardons, but we want to ensure that the process is fair and accountable.
We are also happy the government accepted two Conservative amendments, which help to improve the bill's procedural fairness and require the Parole Board to include a review of this program in its annual report. This review process would allow the legislation to be improved upon if necessary.
I would like to note a specific concern expressed by law enforcement agencies about the bill that I find to have a lot of merit. Although they generally support the bill and what it aims to achieve, law enforcement agencies have expressed concerns that an individual could have been charged with a more serious infraction but pleaded it down to simple possession. This makes the individual still eligible for record suspension, making the process very problematic.
The President of the Canadian Police Association has expressed his opinion on this, saying:
In those circumstances, it is possible that both the Crown and the court may have accepted the plea agreement based on the assumption that the conviction would be a permanent record of the offence and would not have accepted the lesser charge if they knew this would be cleared without any possibility of review at a future date.
Committee members are aware of this. At their appearance, officials said they could not discern between plea deals to lesser charges and people convicted of the genuine offence. This is one of several issues the government has encountered in its rush to meet the Prime Minister's own self-imposed political deadline. It is also strange that the Liberals have left this consequential legislation to the final weeks of our Parliament and have failed to consult key stakeholders.
The concerns are still very real and need to be dealt with. I would like to highlight some of them here.
At the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, Conservative members asked officials about how unpaid fines would be dealt with at the provincial level when a record suspension can be granted under this law at the federal level, while those fines are still outstanding. They could not answer. This needs to be dealt with since the provinces could lose money if they cannot enforce the payment of fines once these records have been deleted. It is an important detail of this legislation that needs the government's attention.
I am also concerned as to why the government changed this law so that a record suspension could not be revoked on the grounds of bad conduct. Does it want record suspensions or expungement? It is very unclear.
The bill lacks the public safety considerations that come with a proper record suspension and the accessibility of an expungement. It is almost as if the Liberals got lost somewhere along the way in the creation of this legislation and did not think of several important details.
There is also a cost to this legislation that needs to be considered, which officials have estimated would be around $2.5 million. The calculation is based on the idea that over 250,000 people are eligible for record suspensions but only 10,000 would make use of it. What if all 250,000 apply; does the government have a plan for that? The cost would then be around $62 million and not the anticipated $2.5 million, which is a big gap that needs to be accounted for. It is an amount that the government does not seem to have a plan for.
In addition, the government has overlooked another important cost, which is the full cost estimate of the process for the Parole Board to to run a query of its database to determine who is eligible for record suspensions while providing it with the necessary information. This is a process, like any other bureaucratic one, that will require significant resources depending on how many people submit a query.
Another area of concern was brought up by witnesses who testified that this law would impact different communities differently. Generally, those less well-off and those with lower education levels are more likely to have convictions for simple possession of cannabis. Legal experts have said that the people who do not have record suspensions today are unlikely to be able to sort through the challenging paperwork needed just to apply.
In addition to the paperwork, to make matters worse, the government calls this a no-cost bill when that is not the case. There would be a $2.5-million price tag for taxpayers and likely between $50 and $200 in fees and complex paperwork for applicants. This process seems designed to ensure as few people as possible apply. It does not look like the government is interested in making it more accessible either. It took out a proposed Conservative amendment that would have made it easier for individuals to access these pardons. As with other types of government applications, this could be complex and time-consuming to fill out.
In these cases, we have also seen the emergence of predatory application experts online, who charge up to $1,600 for their services. There are also no meaningful protections in this bill that would prevent this sort of predatory behaviour in order to protect those who are trying to get a record suspension.
The Liberals have said to Canadians that smoking marijuana should be accepted and accessible, and they have implemented legislation to that effect. That is why it seems odd that they are not interested in making the record suspension process just as accessible.
The last concern I would like to bring up on the topic of cannabis is one that is very relevant to my riding of Niagara West, and that is the smell produced by cannabis cultivation facilities. This is especially an issue in the town of Pelham, where families avoid opening their windows in the summer due to the extremely strong odours coming from two cannabis-producing facilities located more than five kilometres away from their houses.
David Ireland, a resident of Pelham, recently said that on hot, humid days it is worse because the production facilities have to vent more often. Because of this, he cannot open any windows without his whole house smelling like cannabis. The situation has become so bad that the Town of Lincoln in my riding has temporarily halted new cannabis-production facilities and put existing operations on notice.
At a special council meeting earlier this year, councillors approved a staff recommendation to pass an interim control bylaw that will effectively stop any new cannabis facilities until the town can update its zoning bylaws. The bylaws come at the behest of local residents, who have complained about cannabis greenhouses popping up where they should not and causing light and odour concerns in residential communities.
Kristen Dias, a resident from the town of Jordan, was quoted in one of our local papers saying, “Daily, my kids ask about the dead skunks.” Ms. Dias has since moved her children to a different school, saying that the cannabis odour from the production facilities is part of the reason for the move.
My constituents have made dozens of complains about the odour coming from these factories to no avail. Health Canada has not been helpful because it says it is the town's jurisdiction, while the town says it is Health Canada's problem. We have been caught in this constant loop for over a year now with no resolution in sight.
Our community of Niagara West needs to be clear as to who is responsible for regulating the odour because something needs to be done. Cannabis odour issues produced by production facilities are yet another oversight of the government with respect to rushed marijuana legislation.
To get back to the bill in question, we will monitor the implementation of it and commit to reviewing it for its effectiveness and fairness. Now that cannabis is legal, Conservatives understand Canadians should not be unfairly burdened by criminal records for something that is no longer illegal. On this side of the House, we agree that Canadians should have expedited access to record suspensions at no cost. That is why we will be supporting this bill.
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
2019-05-28 10:27 [p.28111]
Mr. Speaker, it is a red-letter day for us and for people in the disability community because we are coming back to the House of Commons today with some amendments so that we can strengthen Bill C-81, which is a milestone. However, I would ask the minister to take this opportunity to assure Canadians that some of the most egregious concerns we had that were not met in the bill, even with amendments, are going to be addressed.
Mainly, people living with different abilities need to have a one-stop place they can go with their concerns. Right now, Bill C-81 would separate enforcement and implementation among four organizations. I would ask the minister to help us envision how we can move this forward. We know that it is a federal election year, and people in the disability community are diligently watching how we can move this forward in a campaign year.
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
2019-05-28 10:28 [p.28111]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question and, of course, her partnership on Bill C-81. This bill belongs to all of us.
The elements in Bill C-81 are additional elements in an existing system. We have things in place. We have structures in place through the Canadian Transportation Agency, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which means that we are not starting from scratch. However, we are very aware that the sectoral approach taken in Bill C-81 has raised a concern that people will not know where to go first. Therefore, the leadership of both our government and these organizations has created, and we have built into Bill C-81, what we call a no-wrong-door approach, which means that wherever people go, it will be the responsibility of the system to point them in the right direction.
For example, if an individual had a complaint and went to the accessibility commissioner with it, and that complaint should have gone to the Canadian Transportation Agency, it would be the accessibility commissioner's responsibility to get it in front of the right people and not the responsibility of the individual filing the complaint. This would be required. We already have a memorandum of understanding with these organizations as they work to design this system in a way that would create that seamless service approach.
We are aware of that concern. Disability advocates have raised it with us. We are doing everything we can to make sure that it is at the back end and that we do not deal with these concerns at the front end through the experience of the person who wants some help.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my colleague across the way, if she had been listening to the remarks I was making, they were all very clearly on the issue, which is why I was making them. These are important points to make.
An hon. member: Oh, oh!
Mr. Garnett Genuis: If the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader wants to heckle, that is also his prerogative, but we are having an important discussion.
I appreciate the opportunity to make the points that I am going to make. I understand that the government intends to bring forward a motion today on extended hours. To be clear, there is absolutely no reason why the bill before us would not move forward. I am making arguments that I think are important and worthwhile, and I am sharing personal stories about members of my own family. If members do not take that seriously or want to cast aspersions or imagine other things, that is their prerogative, but it is not really in the spirit of what the discussion could be. These are things I have wanted to share, and I appreciate that the Standing Orders provide me with the opportunity to share them.
The parliamentary secretary asked about details. I do not have a specific length of time in mind, but I would tell the parliamentary secretary if I did. I want to discuss these points. Of course, interventions like the one we just saw make it harder for me to do that, but I will resume where I was in terms of making the point that I was making. When I finish making my remarks, others will speak, and I am sure we will get the bill passed in due course.
As well, there are issues in terms of the bill not reaching the standard that many people wanted and the government rejecting amendments, which are things I have spoken about. Nonetheless, I am hopeful that there are further steps that can be taken after this.
I will go back to the point I was making before I was interrupted. I was speaking about the experience of my cousin who has Down's syndrome and the things I have been able to learn from her. The principal point that I think we need to absorb from the life and legacy of Jean Vanier is that the relationship between people who are not disabled and those who are should not be seen as one of charity, but, rather, one of people who have different experiences living together in communities of love and friendship and being able to learn from each other.
I want to make the point, in the context of my beautiful cousin who has Down's syndrome, that very often when parents who are expecting a child receive a diagnosis and find out that their child has some genetic condition, that is associated with a lot of surprise and maybe fear and lack of awareness about what this is going to mean for their family. We know as well that there is a high level of selecting out children who have that condition. I wish that every family that was not sure what to do in that situation would have an opportunity to speak to my uncle and aunt, or have an opportunity to speak with somebody like my cousin to see the love, joy and teaching that come through the community with that person. It can be a surprise to find out that what one had expected is not what is going to happen. Sometimes the unexpected is filled with such opportunity for love, joy and learning.
What are the key takeaways that we should have as members of the House from the points I have made and from the work of Jean Vanier?
First of all, we need to go beyond a formal, legalistic notion of inclusion. The legal standard of inclusion is, let us say, the minimum standard. Our goal, rather, should be to build meaningful community among all people to recognize the contributions that all of us make together in the way we treat each other, and to put our emphasis on the pursuit of a concept of true happiness: that is, living well together, not merely thinking in terms of material well-being.
I started this point in my discussion by asking whom this bill is for, whom the work is being done for. The answer is that it is for all of us. People with disabilities benefit from a society in which there are no barriers to their participation. However, everyone, whether with a disability or not, benefits from being part of a society in which we can live together in a community where the contributions and experiences of those with disabilities are heard and where we pursue happiness, community, love and meaning together.
Part of how we do this better, and this is a subject I referenced earlier and something I wrote about in my master's dissertation, is the measurement of happiness. Part of creating a society in which all of us can pursue and attain happiness is, I would argue, measuring happiness as well. There are questions and controversies around the best way to do that statistically, but efforts made to engage in the meaningful measurement of happiness are important and are part of the picture. It is something we should consider as part of subsequent statistical instruments.
Having made that point, having outlined whom I think the bill is for, I now want to discuss some of the amendments that were proposed at the committee in the House and were not accepted. As we move this legislation forward, it is important to note what has been done and what is positive, but also to acknowledge that there are some areas of missed opportunities. There are some areas where we could have done better. In fact, amendments were proposed by other parties that were unfortunately not adopted by government members at the committee.
First of all, there were amendments put forward on the House side that introduced proposals around dates and timelines. This is an issue now being incorporated at the level of the Senate, but it was proposed in the form of amendments to clauses 5, 11, 18, 23, 111 and 148. Amendments were proposed that would have established timelines, and we made the argument that timelines were absolutely essential.
We argued as well that the bill had to require positive action by the minister. We argued that the bill ought to require the progressive realization of a barrier-free Canada by the minister and should therefore remove permissive language. A lot of the language in this legislation in effect does not actually require the minister to do anything. It uses a lot of language around the word “may”, such as that regulations may be established or proposals may be put in. That exists in the context of exceptions.
While we have a legislative framework in place that may allow the minister to do certain things around the realization of a barrier-free Canada, the framework is very open in terms of allowing the minister to do certain things or not do certain things. There was an interesting comment made by the minister today in the context of questions and comments, where the issue of exceptions was raised by my colleague from Foothills. The minister said that they would certainly be very careful in their use of those exceptions under her watch.
That is the rub, the exercise of these powers by the minister. I take the minister at her word in terms of her sincerity about this bill, but it is our job in the opposition to ask questions about whether the framework relies merely on the goodwill and the word of one person, or whether it puts in place the structures that provide certainty and indeed a protection for the kinds of circumstances that we would like to see. The minister says that they will be very careful in their use of exceptions, at least under her watch, and that under her watch they will certainly do the things that are laid out in this legislation. Of course, under the current government, we do not know how long a particular minister will remain with the responsibility of a portfolio. I think all parties want to see the legislation be meaningful in ensuring impacts.
We sought to address this issue in the form of amendments, but unfortunately we did not see progress on it. These amendments dealt with the issue of permissive language in clauses 15, 16, 75, 93, 94 and subclause 146.1. We need to try to do better in this respect. Although we tried to get things done, unfortunately that did not happen.
We proposed amendments to subclause 17(2) and clause 21 to ensure the independence of CASDO, the accessibility commissioner and other key positions. Certainly, we are very concerned about the track record of the government in not always respecting the independence of things that we would expect to be independent. We raised concerns at committee about the issue of the legislation ensuring the sufficient independence of these bodies. Without independence, there is a concern about whether the accountability functions we expect will be followed. Our amendments in this respect were also not adopted by the government and the changes we proposed have unfortunately not shown up subsequently.
We proposed an amendment to clause 18, that the bill must designated CASDO as the only body to develop accessibility standards. The framework put in place by the legislation seeks to deal with a number of different parts and aspects of government. Certainly, we recognize the importance of ensuring that all of those are included and that the regulatory structure is there to cover them in all cases.
Our amendment proposed that the government have a standard set centrally by CASDO, which presumably is the goal of establishing that entity. The legislation, as it stands, creates a more complex scheme than is necessary by having some of these standards set external to CASDO. We raised this issue as well. In the follow-up implementation of the legislation, people will want to see it so they can explore the effectiveness of those provisions.
We also proposed an amendment for a new clause 33.1 to ensure there would be accountability regarding public information during CASDO's work on developing an accessibility standard. Again, there is a need for accountability as part of these frameworks. We are not keen on provisions in legislation which the government tells us “just trust us”. When the issue is important, “just trust us” is not enough. We want to see a framework that requires government action, that is accountable and that provides a reasoned and effective framework to ensure that accountability is in place.
We then proposed amendments about strengthening accessibility plans. Unfortunately they were rejected. They related to clauses 42, 47, 51, 56, 60, 65 and 69. Then we proposed specific amendments to remove exemptions.
Let us reflect on the actions we have seen from the government and the concerns that might arise when well-connected companies are lobbying for exceptions regarding their obligations. Frankly, we know this is going to happen. Our legislative framework may say that federally regulated companies have to comply with certain standards, but it is possible to make exceptions. Some companies are going to calculate that it is actually easier for them, less expensive perhaps, to spend resources lobbying politicians and ministers to give them an exception. They would rather do that than invest in the required changes to make themselves more accessible. Unfortunately it is relatively likely that some people will make this calculation and will use the tools and resources available to them.
We have seen in recent months a government that when the pressure is on, when the well-connected lobbyists are brought to bear, rather than follow through on the intention of legislation, the government may allow that exception. Let us say the argument is around jobs, that if companies are required to conform to such a standard, then they will not be able to continue to operate and they will have to move their headquarters, whatever the arguments are made in those cases.
That is why those who are following us today, those who are concerned about the effectiveness and the impact of this legislation should be concerned about the power the legislation gives around the granting of exceptions.
We have permissive language and the refusal of the government to move forward with amendments around the removal of exceptions, amendments which were supported by the Conservatives. Although there are high aspirations associated with the bill and although I do not doubt the sincerity of some people on the government side around the legislation, this creates circumstances in which it does not compel the government to act and it gives the government a great deal of space to say to a company that it does not have to follow its obligations. An area of regulation that it maybe had the power to put forward action on, it will not do that anymore.
It is precisely our job as members of Parliament to ensure the legislation we put forward is directed to and binding on government. So often, unfortunately, and what I have seen in my time here in the last three and a half years as an MP, is legislation that leaves the door open for the minister to exercise a great deal of discretion.
There is some latitude for ministerial discretion in the specific working out of details around regulations in the plants. However, when we have so much flexibility that the minister can say an exception will be put in place, that is a totally different case. This goes beyond the normal expectation that there is some degree of ministerial discretion involved in this case. This goes much further than the norm and that is why we proposed those changes. We are concerned about what the government's real intentions are and what the real actions will be.
I do not want to cast aspersions on everyone's intentions, but somebody made the decision somewhere, whether it was in the Prime Minister's Office or somebody else around the cabinet table, to leave the door open to the possibility that someone could be let off the hook in a particular case.
We proposed an amendment as well to designate the accessibility commissioner as the one body to handle compliance for accessibility standards and the adjudication of complaints. This was another amendment that dealt with streamlining the effectiveness of the bill.
The bill does not designate a central agency to oversee compliance with accessible ability requirements. Enforcement as envisioned under the framework right now is done by multiple agents: the accessibility commissioner, the CRTC, the CTA and the Federal Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board. Again, just as with setting a standard, through a complex patchwork of different organizations, this will create far more than is necessary with respect to confusion and barriers to those who wish to access the process.
If somebody is looking for standards to hold an agency or an entity up against, if he or she is looking to make complaints, the legislation does not have this sort of single window that would provide clarity around standards as well as enforcement. This is again a missed opportunity. Members of the committee and the House had tried to put forward amendments to address and strengthen this, but unfortunately we did not see action in that respect.
We felt, and we still feel, that multiple bodies looking at accessibility complaints from different angles will create a potential patchwork unfair administration of the act, and we should be concerned about that.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, I find the reaction and heckles by some members of the government very surprising. We know they do not like listening to opposition perspectives. We have seen multiple efforts by them to shut down debate on different issues. Yes, I am criticizing their failure to respond properly to proposals put forward by Conservative members and agreed to by members of other parties to strengthen the legislation.
Government members do not want to hear that perspective. They want this to be a day when we all agree on every detail. I said right at the beginning, very clearly, that we agree on the principle and that moving this legislation forward would be an improvement on the status quo. However, part of the purpose of the parliamentary conversation is to identify aspects of legislation that need to be improved.
The members across the way may not want to hear these criticisms. They may not want to hear about the fact that this legislation provides a possible exception, whereby a company like SNC-Lavalin might lobby the government for an exception. However, we need to talk about those things. We need to talk about how we strengthen this legislation and about some of the missed opportunities.
Members can be assured that this legislation will pass this session. However, these are criticisms that the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader would benefit from listening to rather than heckling. In any event, it is an important part of the argument we are making. The fact that this legislation does not “require” the minister, but only “invites” the minister to take certain action, and the fact of the exceptions that exist are issues that need to be identified and discussed.
There is also the issue of the administrative complexity that I was talking about before the point of order was raised, and the rejection of an amendment that would have designated CASDO as the only body to develop accessibility standards, and the rejection of another amendment that would have designated the accessibility commissioner as the one body to handle compliance with accessibility standards and the adjudication of complaints. The fact that these amendments were rejected increases the relative complexity that people will face when they are engaging with these issues in the legislation.
Part of our job as the opposition is to reflect the feedback we have heard from stakeholders and to say, yes, the government needs to do better. It can do better. It should have done better. We support this legislation going forward, but we are asking for more for Canadians with disabilities, to facilitate the realization of a full vision of shared community, one in which we go beyond the minimum and do as much as possible together.
We proposed amendments, as well, to ensure that the process for making complaints and reviews by the accessibility commissioner would be fair. We proposed amendments specifically to clauses 117 and 142 to say that this would not allow organizations to be exempted from producing and publishing accessibility plans, feedback processes and progress reports. We proposed amendments to include stronger provisions for reviewing the accessible Canada act and monitoring the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As well, one amendment that was adopted and showed up in the Senate version eventually concerned sign language. It is important to note that we are glad to see this adopted through a Senate amendment, but it had been proposed at the House level as well.
One particular concern we raised about the coming into force of this legislation is that if clause 207 were left in, it would lead, according to the Statutes Repeal Act, to the act being automatically repealed within 10 years of receiving royal assent. That was perhaps a technicality, but one with important consequences that we sought to address.
In the course of proposing 60 amendments at committee, the government only adopted three, and they were not of the substantive variety we had hoped for. They supported two amendments to make reviews fair and accessible, which were improvements, and one amendment to the preamble that changed “Canadians” to “persons in Canada”. Essentially, it was a fairly technical linguistic change in the preamble, which was an important change in language, but the substantive concerns about the legislation we had highlighted were not fully addressed.
The Senate committee study provided some important perspective, and on the issue of the structure of this legislation, I want to read from testimony at the standing committee that studied this bill, in particular the testimony of David Lepofsky, the chair of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. He is a real champion on these issues. He has done extensive work representing and reflecting the concerns of the community. I want to identify what he said about this bill. He stated:
Bill C-81 is strong on good intentions, but palpably weak on implementation. It's called an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, but it does not require a single barrier anywhere in Canada, ever, to be removed.
I will read that again as it is fundamental to the criticisms that I and others have made. He stated:
It's called an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, but it does not require a single barrier anywhere in Canada, ever, to be removed. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.
Bill C-81, at its core and its heart, is driven by the commendable notion that the federal government will enact enforceable regulations called accessibility standards that will tell federally regulated organizations what they have got to do. But it doesn't require any federal accessibility standards to ever be enacted as enforceable regulations. People with disabilities need and deserve better.
Let me be clear: The regulations that the bill requires to be enacted within two years are on procedural things, not substantive accessibility standards. The federal government could meet that deadline merely by prescribing the forms that people with disabilities shall use if they want to give feedback to Air Canada or Bell Canada. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.
This legislation splinters its enforcement and the setting of enforceable regulations among multiple federal agencies. From the minister's defence of her practice, she conceded that if she was starting from scratch, that isn't necessarily how she would do it. But her explanation of why she did it gives triumphant ascendancy to federal bureaucracy over disability equality.
Now the question is: What do we do about it? The question is not: Are you going to pass this bill, senators? You're going to pass this bill, so let's take that off the table. We all know it. We all understand it. That's the starting point.
That was the starting point for my remarks as well. I said that the Conservatives are supporting this bill, but that there are issues. There are issues the community has raised, and in terms of how we see the issue, and with the substantive aspects of the provisions of this legislation. Our support and the community's support to pass this legislation is clear, but there are big gaps.
I will go back to the testimony, which states:
The question before this committee is: Are you going to amend it first? What we say is that you must. The reality is this bill needs a lot of amendments not to make it perfect, that's a red herring, but to get this bill from the status of weak to one that is closer to what people with disabilities need and deserve.
In the House, there were a couple hundred pages of amendments. Hard work over the past weekend has led us to distill it down to a series of amendments before you that we proposed and you have received e-mails from some witnesses who support them, which fill a grand total of 3.5 pages and cover a few core themes.
I am only going to address a couple of them, but let me be clear, there is time to do this. You are going to vote in committee on May 2. I understand you will do third reading by May 16. We are working and approaching the federal parties to urge that, once amendments are passed if they are that the house consider them quickly, so the issue of swift passage of this bill, whether amended or not, is now, procedurally, not a bar to your being able to do what we need you to do.
Again, we will see this legislation pass, but there are issues that we need to address.
The testimony continues:
So what should you do?
Well, let me just focus on a couple, but I invite questions on all of what we proposed. Lets just turn to the headlines. Yesterday, the Government of Ontario announced a multi-billion-dollar plan for new subways in Toronto, but only if other levels of government, including the federal government, add billions to the allocation the province is committing to. Thats not unusual. But we need the federal government to be required, before it spends our money on a project like that, to say a ground rule of getting our federal money is you have to meet certain federal accessibility requirements.
Now, the minister came before you a week ago and said, We cant do that. We dont have constitutional authority to do that. Respectfully, the minister is wrong. Its called the federal spending power. Have you heard of the Canada Health Act? The Canada Health Act says that if provinces get federal money for provincial health programs, they must meet federal accessibility requirements. Not disability accessibility, but their financial accessibility.
If what the minister told you is right, then the Canada Health Act has been unconstitutional for over three decades since it was enacted. I would be staggered to believe that is the position of the current federal government. If they can do it there, they can at least attach strings when they give money, if they agree to, to local projects and not just federal buildings. You might look at me and say, Oh, come on, in 2019 we wouldnt use public money to build inaccessible public transit. Senators, go to YouTube, search on AODA Alliance and public transit. You will see a video we released during last springs provincial election that has thousands of views and media coverage where we document serious accessibility problems in brand new subway stations in Toronto that just opened within the past year-and-a-half.
This isnt about perfect, folks. This is about basic equality, so we ask for an amendment that would at least require federal ministers or their ministries, if they are agreeing to give our federal money to a province, a municipality, a college or university for a project like that, to put, as a term of the agreement, an enforceable term, just like the Canada Health Act, that accessibility requirements are required. Why should the federal government ever allow federal money to be used to create new barriers or perpetuate existing ones?
I will note, just as an aside, that this specific issue that he spoke about here, the issue of federal money funding infrastructure that may not meet a certain accessible standard, is one that the Senate flagged for our consideration, but it is not reflected in the amended provisions of this legislation. This is an area that requires, I think, more discussion and exploration by government on how we should ensure that the accessibility standards we expect are met, especially in new construction and infrastructure, so that we have taken the basic steps required to ensure that it is accessible to people. That is something that should be fairly obvious. However, if we do not put in place processes and mechanisms to ensure that the obvious happens, sometimes it does not.
According to Mr. Lepofsky, in fact, there was a claim made that it would somehow be unconstitutional to put these conditions in place. It is interesting, because we see a federal government that, in general, in so many different areas, is very heavy handed with what it tries to impose on the provinces, even trying to use federal spending to compel them to implement particular policies in provincial areas of jurisdiction. It is interesting how that separation is selectively invoked in some cases but not in others, which seems to be an excuse for inaction in this case.
The testimony continues:
Let me give you one other core amendment. My colleague from the CNIB said the minister last week had agreed to amend the bill to ensure that it does not curtail in any way the human rights code and the duty to accommodate. I hope the minister does that, but I dont hear her as having said that. I hear her as having said that she, as a former human rights lawyer, has ensured that this bill doesnt interfere with the duty to accommodate. But senators, it threatens to.
Clause 172 of the bill perpetuates a provision in the Canada transportation legislation that would let the CTA enact a regulation, and once it does so, to set standards for accessible transit, no matter how low that standard may be and no matter how deficient from a human rights standard it may be. As a traveller with a disability or others in my coalition or anyone in Canada, we are barred from asking anymore under the legislation's guarantee against undue barriers.
With that provision in the act, our position is: Please don't ever enact any standards under the CTA because they threaten to take away our rights. A simple amendment would repeal that provision from the act.
I will note that, in this case, this testimony led to an amendment. Of course, we are pleased to see that the amendment was made on that provision. That was one issue from this testimony that was, in fact, addressed, which is why we were pleased to see that change in the Senate amendments. The version of this bill that was originally proposed, and that the government appeared, initially at committee in the House, not to see any problem with, was, in fact, a version whereby the CTA could enact regulations that would be below the human rights standards and that would have the potential impact of lowering the standards that are in place for the protection of the rights of Canadians with disabilities. This indicates the importance of the Senate amendment process and the benefit of the fact that in this case, the government, although not responsive as much to House amendments, did come around in response to proposals on the Senate side.
The testimony from Mr. Lepofsky states:
Let me conclude by inviting questions on the other areas that we've raised. I'm telling you that we are not just about saying what's wrong. We are about proposing constructive suggestions for what's right, and the amendments we've placed before you are designed for a Senate that has a limited time frame to act, a commitment to respect policy decisions made in the House of Commons and an eagerness to ensure that these amendments can be considered by the house quickly and easily, with a realistic chance of them being taken seriously. They are designed to be tailored both to our needs and to what the minister said to you last week. So we ask you to take them all seriously. They are all substantive, and they all bear on the needs of all people with disabilities.
I conclude by saying this: I'm speaking for my coalition, but as an individual, I first came before Parliament 39 years ago as a much younger individual—my wife said I had hair back then when she saw the video—to appear before the standing committee considering the Charter of Rights. At that time, the Charter proposed to guarantee equality but not to people with disabilities. I and a number of other folks argued and succeeded in getting the Charter amended to include that right.
I leave you with two thoughts. First, the amendments we seek are aimed at making that right become a reality, not just as a matter of good intention but as effective implementation.
The government members who do not like hearing arguments against their bill may be encouraged by the fact that I am now coming to the conclusion of my remarks.
These were all important points to make. Here is a brief summary of the key elements I have highlighted in this bill.
The bill is about requiring regulated entities to make accessibility plans. It is a positive step, but it would not have the force and the pressure on the government in terms of compelling government action that many people within the disability community want to see. We tried to reflect those concerns in the context of a debate that happened here in the House the first time around and at committee. Unfortunately, all the more substantive changes were rejected in the House. The Senate put forward a number of amendments that were positive, but they would not fix the bill in every respect, certainly from the perspective of our caucus and those in the community.
Therefore, while we are pleased to support these amendments and this legislation, we will continue to call on the government to do better and to give reality to the promise that “better is possible”. That is what we are asking in the context of this legislation. The Senate amendments make improvements, but they do not go all the way in terms of the improvements people are asking for.
I talked a bit about who this legislation is for. It is important to recognize that the steps we take to facilitate an accessible, barrier-free society benefit people with disabilities, but they benefit all of us, because they give all of us an opportunity to live together in meaningful community and to learn from each other.
There are things that are not in the bill. In some cases, they are things that could not be addressed by a bill, and in some cases, they are things the government should have addressed but did not.
Legislation can ultimately only go so far toward addressing people's attitudes and culture. Building a barrier-free Canada is not just a political decision; it has to be a social commitment. It has to be something we all commit to leading on and acting on together as parliamentarians and as citizens. We call on business leaders and people from all walks of life to see what they can do to build and facilitate meaningful commitment, goodwill, friendship and love among people, regardless of ability or disability.
Those kinds of social and cultural changes are important. Legislation without that kind of social commitment is not enough to create a truly barrier-free Canada.
I want to again say that the work done by my colleague, the member for Carleton, on trying to ensure that disabled Canadians are able to access paid work, was very important. It was disappointing to see that bill voted down by the government. I hope that in a subsequent Parliament, we will be able to see progress on the initiative he put forward.
Not everyone is able to work, but there are many people who have a disability who are ready, willing and able to participate in paid work. They benefit our economy by doing so, but they also benefit from the community associated with work. They benefit from a sense of purpose and meaning that comes to many people from being able to go to work every day.
More needs to be done to support the kinds of initiatives we saw in that private member's bill. Maybe it will come back in a future Parliament. Maybe we will see other kinds of action that will seek to specifically address the issue of barriers that exist for disabled Canadians seeking employment.
With that, I will conclude my remarks. I am supportive of the bill. I am supportive of the amendments. I am hopeful that we will be able to see more action, and in the future, that we will be able to challenge the government. Rather than rejecting amendments in the House and sending them to the Senate and then accepting them at that point, maybe a novel idea would be to have some of these amendments adopted in the House in the first instance, which would skip the step of bringing the bill back to the House afterward.
There are some areas that could be better, but there are positive steps here. People can be assured that we will support the bill and support these actions. Going forward, we will continue to hold the government's feet to the fire. In the areas where it says it may regulate, we will apply the pressure necessary. We were not able to get from “may” to “must” in the legislation, but we will work to create a political imperative so that the government does not fail to act.
Those in the community who are following us today can be assured of our commitment to always hold the government accountable on these issues and to ensure, with the high-minded discussion around Bill C-81, that the objectives that were laid out are fully realized.
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
2019-05-28 12:20 [p.28124]
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take this time in the House to speak on the rights of people living with disabilities and Canada's responsibility as a signatory to the UN convention on those rights. The NDP supports Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, as amended by the Senate.
I am proud to have been part of a larger movement of stakeholder groups and civil activists who put a great deal of effort into attempting to make this bill the best it can be. We have supported it from the beginning and offered numerous amendments that would have helped the bill realize its ambitions to create a barrier-free Canada.
New Democrats have long believed that any accessibility bill tabled by the government should essentially be enabling legislation for Canada's obligations to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canada ratified this convention in 2010 but until now has done nothing to bring our laws into conformity with it.
I congratulate the minister and her team for their work on this bill and for her willingness to accede to the Senate's amendments. There are still numerous provisions within the bill that remain in need of fixing, and I would be remiss if I did not discuss them now in order to further our understanding on what is yet to be accomplished. This being a federal election year, I know our citizen activists are listening and gaining a better understanding of how they can effectively use a campaign season.
In its current form, Bill C-81 is inadequate to the expectation of fostering a society in which all our citizens can participate fully and equally. This cannot even begin to happen until all our institutions are open and completely accessible to everyone. This is truly what fostering a barrier-free Canada will look like. Unfortunately, Bill C-81 makes minimal movement in that direction.
We are not alone with our concerns. During Bill C-81's time in the House Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, or HUMA, the federal government received extensive feedback on the bill's many shortcomings from people living with disabilities across Canada, as well as from their organized networks of advocacy. For example, last October an open letter was sent to the federal government, signed by no less than 95 disability organizations. Many of these same organizations also testified before HUMA. Disability organizations repeatedly pressed for this bill to be strengthened.
Our esteemed friend, David Lepofsky, is chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. He is an esteemed and respected mind, with legal expertise on accessibility rights. At the Senate committee, he stated:
Bill C-81, at its core and its heart, is driven by the commendable notion that the federal government will enact enforceable regulations called accessibility standards that will tell federally regulated organizations what they have got to do. But it doesn't require any federal accessibility standards to ever be enacted as enforceable regulations. People with disabilities need and deserve better.
Let me be clear: The regulations that the bill requires to be enacted within two years are on procedural things, not substantive accessibility standards. The federal government could meet that deadline merely by prescribing the forms that people with disabilities shall use if they want to give feedback to Air Canada or Bell Canada. People with disabilities need and deserve better than that.
The issues that Mr. Lepofsky cites in this quote remain unaddressed in the amended version of Bill C-81.
For New Democrats, this is a very serious issue. To understand why, let us look at the headlines. Last month, the Government of Ontario announced a multi-billion dollar plan for new subways in Toronto, but only if other levels of government, including the federal government, add billions to the allocation the province is committing to. That is not unusual. However, before it spends our money on a project like that, we need the federal government to be required to say that as a ground rule for getting federal money, certain federal accessibility requirements must be met. If money is requested from the federal government, here is what is required for accessibility. It seems very simple.
The minister has claimed she does not have the constitutional authority to impose accessibility requirements on provinces, but she does. She has what is known as federal spending power, and it is a power that is very substantial. We are all familiar with the Canada Health Act. The Canada Health Act says that if provinces get federal money for provincial health programs, they must meet federal accessibility requirements: not disability accessibility, but financial accessibility. If the federal government truly lacks this power, then the Canada Health Act has been unconstitutional for over three decades. If the federal government can attach strings to the CHA, then it can attach strings when it gives out money to local projects and not just federal buildings.
I commend the hard work that many stakeholder groups did during the Senate phase of Bill C-81. Our friends at the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, or AODA Alliance, along with the ARCH Disability Law Centre, among several others, lobbied senators with a shortened list of amendments covering the most important changes that need to happen to Bill C-81 if the bill is to become the kind of law that our people living with disabilities need.
In fact, we would like to thank all the disability organizations, numbering at least 71, that signed the open letter sent earlier this month to the House of Commons. They called on the House of Commons to ratify the Senate's amendments to Bill C-81. This open letter, which the Council of Canadians with Disabilities delivered to all MPs on behalf of its 28 signatories, all listed below, explains that these amendments improve the bill. The Senate formulated these amendments after holding public hearings at which disability organizations and advocates pointed out the need to strengthen a bill that the House of Commons originally passed last fall. The Senate got the message and formulated a short package of 11 amendments, which together fit on two pages.
I would also like to commend everyone who participated in the massive letter-writing campaign to the minister, the Prime Minister and all members of Parliament. It is always exciting to see concerned public action on any issue. It was not at all clear from the minister's Senate committee testimony that she would accept some of the amendments put forward, but I believe the campaign was a crucial component to making this happen.
Going into the Senate, prior to committee, major stakeholders proposed a distilled version of the changes they wanted to see in the bill before it became law. The amendments proposed for Bill C-81 before the Senate began debating it were a distilled version of the amendments they presented during the hearings before the House of Commons committee.
I would like to run through these very quickly, as they are absolutely essential if Bill C-81 is to be effective.
First, impose clear duties and deadlines on the federal government when implementing this law.
Second, set a deadline for Canada to become accessible.
Third, enforcement should be solely in the hands of the accessibility commissioner, not splintered across various organizations, such as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and the Canadian Transportation Agency, which, as has been pointed out numerous times, have a sorry record of implementing the few accessibility obligations they already have, never mind new ones.
Fourth, we should ensure federal public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers.
Fifth, we should ensure that the federal government will not be able to exempt itself from any of its accessibility obligations under the bill.
The Senate eventually accepted the following amendments to Bill C-81: first, setting 2040 as the end date for Canada to become accessible; second, ensuring that this 2040 timeline would not justify any delay in removing and preventing accessibility barriers as soon as reasonably possible; third, recognizing American sign language, Quebec sign language and indigenous sign languages as the primary languages for communication used by deaf people; fourth, making it a principle to govern the bill that multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination faced by persons with disabilities must be considered; fifth, ensuring that Bill C-81 and regulations made under it could not cut back on the human rights of people with disabilities guaranteed by the Canadian Human Rights Act; sixth, ensuring that the Canadian Transportation Agency could not reduce existing human rights protections for passengers with disabilities when the agency handled complaints about barriers in transportation; and, seventh, fixing problems the federal government identified between the bill’s employment provisions and legislation governing the RCMP.
As members can garner from comparing the proposed amendments with the ones the Senate approved, several crucial amendments did not make it into the bill. One of the more important of these dealt with the issue that Bill C-81 splintered enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over four different public agencies, rather than providing people with disabilities with the single-window service they needed.
As part of this, it leaves two public agencies, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and the Canadian Transportation Agency, to continue overseeing accessibility, despite their inadequate track record on this issue over many years and in the very recent past. The NDP understands that this is an urgent issue which needs to be addressed urgently.
When the bill was in committee, I tabled amendments that would have closed the many exemptions and powers allowing public officials to exempt any organization from key parts of Bill C-81. The NDP feels the bill fails to effectively ensure that the federal government will use all its levers of power to promote accessibility across Canada. For example, it does not require the federal government to ensure that federal money is never used by any recipient of those funds to create or perpetuate disability barriers, such as when federal money contributes to new or renovated infrastructure.
This is a significant point because the federal government can easily require all projects utilizing federal dollars to meet accessibility standards. Experience tells us that without this requirement, federal agencies will contract out important work to third parties to save money, thus bypassing federal accessibility specifications. Our NDP amendments would have addressed this issue directly.
For example, inaccessible public housing could potentially be built and there would be little anyone could do about it, despite the government's repeatedly stated commitment to accessibility and disability issues.
While we commend the government for accepting the timeline of 2040 as the time when Canada is to become accessible to five million people, Bill C-81 nevertheless lacks mandatory timelines for implementation. It allows, but does not require, the government to adopt accessibility standards, yet does not impose a time frame within which this is to happen. Without these, the implementation process, even the start-up process, could drag on for years.
An egregious provision the bill lacks is the requirement that all federal government laws, policies and programs be studied through a disability law lens. This seems a strange omission indeed, as this is the proverbial low-hanging fruit.
It is crucial that societies eliminate these forms of discrimination, not just because doing it is the right thing to do but because it enables a previously ignored and sizable section of our population that contributes its talents and abilities to the betterment of us all. Everyone wins when everyone can contribute.
When it comes to ensuring accessibility for five million Canadians with disabilities, Canada lags far behind the United States, which passed a landmark Americans with disabilities act 29 years ago. Canadians with disabilities still face far too many barriers in air travel, cable TV services, and when dealing with the federal government.
Now that Bill C-81 is back in the House, it only needs to hold one vote to ratify these amendments. No further public hearings or standing committee study of the bill are needed. Once the amendments are passed during that vote, Bill C-81 will have completed its journey through Canada's Parliament. It will be law. It will come into force when the federal government gives Bill C-81 royal assent.
Major stakeholders have recently written to leaders of the major parties asking that they commit to bringing a stronger national accessibility bill before Parliament after this fall's federal election. That is why, while we support the passage of Bill C-81 as amended today, the NDP also commits that when we become government in 2020, we will bring forward a much stronger version of the bill, one that will correct some of its more glaring shortcomings.
As others have noted, yes, the bill is an important first step. However, people living with disabilities have waited so long, too long, to live in a country that allows their flourishing as citizens with full human rights realized. For instance, our neighbours and family members should not be told that they must wait until 2040 until they can, say, use functioning, accessible subway elevators, or use their own wheelchairs on international flights or attend an accessible all-candidates debate and so on.
Unfortunately, the present government has left the task of making Canada fully accessible to future governments. I confidently say that New Democrats are up to this task and genuinely committed to it.
View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2019-05-28 13:13 [p.28131]
Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that it is a good sign that the government and the minister have decided to support the amendments from the Senate. When the bill was at the committee stage, Conservatives, New Democrats and Green Party members put forward dozens of amendments, and all of them, except three, were voted down by the Liberals, including many of the amendments that were brought forward by the Senate.
I want to highlight the fact that a lot of this could have been expedited if the Liberals had supported the amendments that came from stakeholders at the committee stage. One amendment that was not supported, and we have heard about this from stakeholders over and over again, was about the inconsistency that will come from having four different departments looking after complaints, advocacy and removing those barriers, including CTA, CASDO and the other boards.
I understand from the minister that it is a “no wrong door” policy, but what the stakeholders are looking for is the right door. By having four different administrations and four different departments trying to organize the barriers and regulations, there is going to be a lot of confusion. We have heard from stakeholders about consistency in how the complaints are going to be handled and how the restrictions and the new regulations are going to be rolled out.
Does my colleague not agree with stakeholders that having one consistent group, such as CASDO, oversee Bill C-81 would be a better option than establishing four different departments to do the job of one?
View Kent Hehr Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Kent Hehr Profile
2019-05-28 13:14 [p.28131]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his passion and advocacy for the betterment of the bill. Through his work, we can see that he is truly committed to ensuring equality of opportunity for people with disabilities in this country.
The process by which we arrived at this point on the bill reminds me of sausage making: We do not really want to watch it or smell it, but at the end of the day, we have to go through all the processes. Not only have we heard from the House floor and accepted and rejected amendments at committee, but there has been further due diligence from the Senate. I think we have arrived at a pretty good place, as we see all-party support here for this legislation.
In terms of the member's direct question, in my view, the no wrong door approach is better. By putting four different heads on this issue, after a time, people will know where to go. These bodies will have the relative expertise in their given area to be able to deal with the matter, hopefully on an expedited basis, and with this expertise they will be able to move the teeth of the legislation through their organizations.
View Dan Albas Profile
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Carleton for advocating for people who want to work meaningfully in society regardless of their background or their ability to do so. Whether it is working with the CNIB or on his private member's legislation, the member has done much in this Parliament to advocate for those with challenges.
We have heard criticisms by stakeholders and elected officials that the legislation before us, when it comes to designing regulations, has multiple departments that would be responsible for it. Some in the stakeholder community have said that it is confusing as to who they give feedback to so these regulations can be rolled out in a timely way, in plain language and in a format that can be easily understood and so everyone who falls under the legislation knows the responsibility under law. Does the member agree with that assessment?
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2019-05-28 13:39 [p.28134]
Mr. Speaker, simplicity is a virtue. Oftentimes in politics, bureaucracy and government generally there is too much complexity and unnecessarily so.
The provisions of the bill should be executed in the most seamless and simple fashion possible. People, regardless of whether they have disabilities, ought not to have to spend time weeding through government paperwork and bureaucracy. They should go straight to the result, and the result is an accessible Canada for every Canadian. I hope the government, as it administers the bill into the future, and future governments after it, will ensure that happens.
View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2019-05-28 21:12 [p.28190]
Madam Speaker, this has come up many times over the debate today, but I want to stress the fact that we are debating this because our stakeholders have told us that there are shortcomings within the legislation. As much as we support Bill C-81, there is no question that our stakeholders have told us there are still some gaps that they would like addressed. This was very clear when we had every opposition party in the House agree on more than 60 amendments to the bill. However, the Liberals at committee voted down each and every one of those amendments. In fact, we sat until midnight to try to get this through committee as quickly as possible. Therefore, I am thankful the Senate agreed with our amendments and that the minister has agreed to support some of them.
However, one amendment was not supported, and that was the fact that there were too many doors to try to address an issue. That was from stakeholders. For example, there is the Accessibility Commissioner, the CRTC, CTA, the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board. There will be no consistency in how these regulations or complaints will be addressed.
I would like my colleague to address one of those major concerns as brought up by our stakeholders.
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