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Results: 1 - 15 of 1916
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-07-21 10:17 [p.2653]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Vimy, who will be giving her maiden speech in this venerable House.
It is an honour for me to be in the House today and to speak on behalf of the residents of Davenport.
It is also an honour to join my colleagues to participate in this important debate on Bill C-20, which includes three key parts. The first part makes a number of adjustments that will expand the eligibility criteria around the Canada emergency wage. Part two covers a number of changes that must occur in order for us to provide a one-time payment to persons with disabilities for reasons related to COVID-19. In part three are a number of appropriate changes to certain acts that will provide some flexibility to certain time limits that were difficult or impossible to meet as a result of the exceptional circumstances produced by COVID-19. I will be talking to part two.
This bill would allow information sharing among several federal departments and agencies and Employment and Social Development Canada, so that a one-time payment can be made to support persons with disabilities during this pandemic. We have to allow for information to be shared among several departments in order to deliver this one-time payment as soon as we possibly can.
This one-time payment of $600 will help approximately 1.7 million Canadians with disabilities who are recipients of the disability tax credit certificate, CPP disability or QPP disability benefits and/or disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.
Bill C-20 is just one part of a much larger plan that our government has dedicated to supporting Canadians with disabilities. Today I want to talk about the evolution of our plan, the actions we have undertaken and our government's next steps toward creating an inclusive and barrier-free Canada.
In 2015, our government named the first-ever cabinet minister responsible for persons with disabilities and promised Canadians that we would pass legislation aimed at removing barriers to inclusion. This signalled our commitment to doing things differently in order to ensure that all Canadians have an equal chance at success.
One of the key milestones on this journey was the National Disability Summit that we held in May 2019, in the days prior to COVID. The summit provided an opportunity for participants to exchange best practices and to create and build on partnerships. It allowed us to understand the next steps to truly realize an inclusive and accessible Canada.
At the same time as the summit was taking place, the federal government's landmark legislation for the Accessible Canada Act was being finalized, following the most comprehensive consultations with the disability community in our country's history. More than 6,000 Canadians and 100 disability organizations shared their views and ideas about an accessible Canada. As we know, the act received royal assent on June 21, 2019 and came into force in July of that year.
The legislation builds upon existing mechanisms and ensures compliance and accountability. The Accessible Canada Act takes a proactive and systemic approach to identifying, removing and preventing barriers to accessibility in key areas within federal jurisdiction. The goal was to ensure that the act was based on safeguarding human rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The act also created new entities such as Accessibility Standards Canada, which creates and reviews accessibility standards for federally regulated organizations.
I am proud of this legislation because it sends a clear message to Canadians that persons with disabilities will no longer be treated as an afterthought. From the start, systems will be designed to be inclusive for all Canadians. This is because it is our systems, our policies, our practices and our laws that need to be fixed, not our people.
I also want to point out that in the mandate letter of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, a number of important additional measures will continue to ensure that we promote disability inclusion. These include, among other measures, undertaking initiatives to improve the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities, targeting barriers to full participation in the labour force including discrimination and stigma, raising public awareness, and working with employers and businesses in a coordinated way.
As the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion has said, we move from “Nothing about us, without us” to “Nothing without us”, because everything in society touches the lives of Canadians with disabilities.
The Government of Canada is leading the way in ensuring communities and workplaces are accessible and inclusive for persons with disabilities. It is the largest federal employer. It is also the single-largest purchaser of goods and services in the country, and provides vital programs and services to Canadians. As such, we have committed to hiring at least 5,000 persons with disabilities over the next five years in the federal public service. We are also committed to applying an accessibility lens to government procurement and project planning.
Over the last five years, our government has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Canadians with disabilities. I wish to share some of the highlights over our two mandates, which began in 2015.
Our government applied a disability lens to our flagship policies and programs such as the Canada child benefit, the national housing strategy and the infrastructure program. The result is that families of children with disabilities receive an additional amount under the CCB. For example, from 2017 to 2018, 1.75 million children benefited from the disability supplement.
Under the national housing strategy, there is a commitment to promote universal design and visitability. This includes a requirement that public and shared spaces meet accessibility standards, and that at least 2,400 new affordable housing units for persons with developmental disabilities are created.
In the area of infrastructure we have approved nearly 800 accessibility projects, including almost 500 new para-transit buses and improvements to 81 existing transit facilities to make them more accessible to Canadians. This was made possible by ensuring that accessibility was an eligible expense in public transit projects. In just one year, almost $800 million was invested into our public transit systems to make them more accessible.
We have also increased our investments in existing programs such as the enabling accessibility fund, the social development partnerships program and the opportunities fund. All three of these programs were significantly enhanced, allowing people to keep doing the good work they are doing to improve the lives of Canadians with disabilities.
Current COVID-19 supports have been amply covered by my colleagues over the last 24 hours, but I want to bring them to mind briefly. Since the pandemic was declared, our government has taken a disability-inclusive response to the pandemic. This included adhering to the principle of “Nothing without us”, from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the creation of the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group to bring the lived experience of persons with disabilities to our government's response to the pandemic.
We provided additional support to students with permanent disabilities and the one-time payment that is part of the debate today. We invested in mental health for the Wellness Together portal. We launched calls for proposals under two components of the enabling accessibility fund, and created a national workplace accessibility stream of the opportunities fund to help people with disabilities find jobs right now. Finally, we added funding to the social development partnerships program to enhance accessibility communications during this crisis, and invested $1.18 million in five new projects across the country through the accessible technology program to help develop dynamic and affordable technology.
In conclusion, from the Canadian Survey on Disability, we know Canadians with disabilities are underemployed compared with the general population, a situation made worse by this pandemic. As the economy opens up again, this represents an opportunity for a vast and largely untapped pool of talent: people who are available to work, who want to join the workforce and who are ready to apply their innovative ideas to our new normal.
In the meantime, I call upon my colleagues to quickly pass the legislation before us so we can get support out to the people who urgently and immediately need it.
I am now ready to take questions.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-21 10:27 [p.2654]
Mr. Speaker, what is the number of disability payment recipients in Canada now?
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-07-21 10:27 [p.2654]
Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. I actually do not have the answer to that question.
I do know that the changes we are about to make would, we believe, benefit 1.7 million Canadians. The other thing to point out is that the changes we want to make would make it more inclusive. We want as many people as possible, who have disabilities and need emergency support, to be able to access it. That is the reason we are proposing these changes in the legislation today.
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-21 10:28 [p.2654]
Mr. Speaker, the disability tax credit application is quite arduous. I am not sure if the member has had a chance to go through that with some of her constituents, but it is a very heavy bureaucratic process and does take time.
I am wondering if she is aware of that process, the challenges that many Canadians have in applying for that credit and the fact that those who are either in the midst of applying or do not qualify are being left behind by aspects of this legislation.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-07-21 10:28 [p.2655]
Mr. Speaker, I was listening very intently to the minister yesterday. She spoke about the system behind the benefits available to persons with disabilities in Canada, and basically said that the system needs to be changed. It has to be simplified as it is not easy to navigate. She has made a commitment to do everything in her power to simplify the system and make it easier for us to get benefits directly to those who need them immediately.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-07-21 10:30 [p.2655]
Mr. Speaker, when I heard my colleague mention social housing, it occurred to me that if we wanted to make life easier for people living with disabilities, maybe we should fund the health care system properly. Health care is still underfunded. As for social housing, Quebec is still waiting for the transfers from the federal government.
Would my colleague agree that it is urgent to transfer that money if we want to truly support people living with disabilities?
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-07-21 10:30 [p.2655]
Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, I read a number of the elements of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion's mandate letter and we are going to take a number of additional steps to try to be more helpful to our disability community.
In terms of health care, my understanding is that we have health agreements with every single province, except Quebec, and we are very happy to step up to the plate and continue those discussions with Quebec to ensure that persons with disabilities, as well as all Quebeckers, will have access to better health.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that members of the opposition would question how long it takes for these disability tax credits given that we would be two months further ahead had they not been playing politics with this issue a couple of months ago.
The member talked about the lower employment levels of people with disabilities. I know first-hand that my cousin Aidan, who has Down syndrome, has all the supports he needs to get through his education, but after that there is a real lack of opportunity for employment. What this bill seeks to do, in particular, is create the economic environment for people with disabilities to prosper to their fullest potential. The federal government is looking to employ 5,000 more people with disabilities.
I am wondering if the member can comment on how she sees this impacting people in her own community of Davenport.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-07-21 10:32 [p.2655]
Mr. Speaker, I would have also liked to see this legislation pass two months ago. One of the positive aspects of waiting, turning lemons into lemonade, is that this time we expanded on who can apply and access this one-time emergency funding.
We are providing a number of avenues for more people to apply for the disability tax credit. If more people apply for the disability tax credit, more of them will be able to access the one-time emergency support. I know that is going to benefit many more people in my riding of Davenport.
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
2020-07-21 10:32 [p.2655]
Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of the pandemic, our government has followed the guidance of public health officials. Governments across Canada put lockdown measures in place to slow the spread of the virus and ensure that our health care systems were well prepared.
The lockdown measures that governments put in place to control the outbreak meant that many Canadians lost their jobs or a significant portion of their incomes. Without question, the nature of this crisis is completely unprecedented. We are confronting a public health and economic crisis. Canadians have managed to control the virus, and gradually and safely, our economy is restarting across the country.
Canadians have made great sacrifices to get here. Businesses of all sizes closed their doors during the emergency phase and are still facing uncertainty.
Our government acted quickly in March, when we launched the first measures of our COVID-19 economic response plan. Through rapid and broad support, the government has been able to protect millions of jobs, provide emergency income support to families and help keep businesses afloat during the worst of the storm. This support is helping Canadians get back on their feet and has prevented serious, long-term damage to our economy.
With the Canada emergency response benefit, we are providing temporary income support to Canadians across the country who have stopped working because of COVID-19. More than eight million Canadians have applied for the CERB.
We provided a special, one-time $300 top-up to the Canada child benefit for the month of May, delivering almost $2 billion in additional support to families who needed it. The government also provided a special top-up payment in April through the goods and services tax credit for low- and modest-income individuals and families, giving on average a single adult almost $400 more and couples almost $600 more.
We have worked to support our most vulnerable as well, providing support for the food banks, charities and non-profits that provide services to those in need. We have also provided $158 million to support Canadians experiencing homelessness, ensuring that the shelters they rely on have the equipment they need to prevent outbreaks.
We know that during the lockdown, home was not always a safe place to be. We provided funding that has helped over 500 organizations that support women and children experiencing violence. We want to work to keep our communities safe and vibrant.
We know that preserving the small businesses that give our neighbourhoods life is key to keeping our community strong. The Canada emergency business account, or CEBA, has helped over 690,000 small businesses. Through this support, small businesses and non-profit organizations can receive an interest-free loan of up to $40,000, 25% of which is forgivable if paid back by the end of 2022. We recently expanded the CEBA so that more small businesses can access it. The CEBA is making a real difference in addressing the cash-flow challenges we see businesses facing as a result of COVID.
We know making rent can be a challenge for our hardest hit businesses. That is why we launched the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance, or CECRA, which provides eligible small-business tenants with a rent reduction of 50%. We recently announced that we are extending the program to cover eligible small-business rents for July. The program provides support by offering forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners, whether they have a mortgage on their property or not.
The CECRA also offers another key support to help businesses through the current challenges. Overall, since the beginning of the COVID-19 global outbreak, the Government of Canada has taken swift and significant action to support Canadians and protect jobs. The Canada emergency wage subsidy is one of the cornerstones of the government's economic response plan.
That is why with this week's legislation we are proposing to extend the Canada emergency wage subsidy until November 21, 2020. Furthermore, the government is announcing its intent to provide further support through the wage subsidy, up to December 19, 2020. The bill would make the program accessible to a broader range of employers and would help protect more jobs and promote growth as the economy continues to reopen.
To ensure strong subsidy support for those who need it, effective July 5, 2020, the Canada emergency wage subsidy would consist of two parts: a base subsidy available to all eligible employers experiencing a decline in revenues with a varying subsidy amount depending on the scale of revenue decline, and a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% for employers that have been most adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. If businesses are experiencing a revenue drop of 50% or more, they would receive the maximum base subsidy rate. If they are experiencing a decline between 49% and zero, their base subsidy rate would gradually decline in accordance with their revenue decrease. By removing the 30% revenue decline threshold, these adjustments would make the Canada emergency wage subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers. The introduction of a gradually declining base subsidy would allow the program to be extended to more employers and continue to support recovering businesses.
As well, the top-up subsidy rate of up to 25% would be available to employers that were the most adversely affected during the pandemic, which is to say those having experienced an average revenue drop of more than 50% over the preceding three months. This would be particularly helpful to employers and sectors that are recovering more slowly.
We will also make sure eligible employers that were making plans for the next two CEWS periods based on the existing design would be entitled to an amount of subsidy not less than the amount they would be entitled to under the wage subsidy rules that were in place before that period. This would provide a safe harbour so employers that already made business decisions for the period between July 5 and August 29 would not receive a subsidy rate lower than they would have under the previous rules.
By helping more workers return to work and supporting businesses as they recover, these changes would make businesses more competitive and would ensure that our economy returns to growth.
In conclusion, with this legislation the government is addressing the challenges employers are facing and is providing the support they need to participate in the restart. Therefore, I strongly recommend that all members of the House support the bill so that together we deliver on our collective commitment to be there for Canadians and help them bridge through to better times.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-21 10:40 [p.2656]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments and agree with the fact it has been two months since this was first presented. However, significantly more people with disabilities are included now because of the time that was invested in making the bill better.
One area the bill improves is support for veterans. They are included in this payment. Over 50,000 of them are without funding. I have a concern regarding what the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion said when she presented this in the House and referred to veterans. She said, “this is going to be super complicated at the back end”.
Does the member have any idea of the process that has been put in place to do this in an expeditious manner for veterans so that they do not lose hope again and this isn't another situation where the government is not providing them something they have been promised?
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
2020-07-21 10:42 [p.2656]
Mr. Speaker, our government is listening actively and working with various partners to make sure that no one is left behind. Certainly, we should not forget our veterans.
As we all know, this is the first time we are dealing with this. The disability act should have been debated and changed two months ago. We lost precious time, but I am sure, and can assure the House, that the minister, her team and the great people of our public service are going to find the solutions we need to make sure our veterans have the support they need.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-07-21 10:42 [p.2657]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the speech from my colleague, who sits on the Standing Committee on Finance.
I am going to ask her a somewhat technical question. I should probably ask the government, but I will see if she can answer. It is about support for people living with disabilities as drafted in Bill C-20.
In his announcement on June 1, the Prime Minister mentioned a refundable tax credit. However, Bill C-20 calls it a payment out of the consolidated revenue fund. On closer scrutiny, it seems like the payment could be considered taxable income for the taxpayer.
Does my colleague know whether this tax credit is taxable?
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
2020-07-21 10:43 [p.2657]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my esteemed colleague from the Standing Committee on Finance for his question. I honestly do not know the details. I do not know if it is taxable or not, but I will find out and get back to him.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-07-21 10:44 [p.2657]
Mr. Speaker, as we talk about the recovery of the economy, obviously a huge part of it is child care. Workplaces have continually expressed the need for a national public system of affordable child care.
The government has put forward an economic recovery plan, but the $625 million that has been allocated to child care is simply not enough. Some are calling for $2.5 billion.
I am wondering what the member across the way has to say about the huge difference in realities and the need to do a lot more on child care.
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