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Results: 1 - 60 of 157
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mrs. Corriveau, thank you for your testimony.
Recently, the Government of Canada announced a one-time payment of $600 for people with disabilities to help with the additional costs they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government recently announced that this payment would not be made until the fall, several months after Canadians have felt the impact of COVID-19 on their expenses.
Based on your work, you have experience working with individuals living in low-income housing, some of whom may be experiencing financial hardship because of a disability. How important do you think it is that this tax credit be provided sooner than currently estimated by the Liberal government?
Marie-José Corriveau
View Marie-José Corriveau Profile
Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:17
I would like to come back briefly to a number of points.
First, we have to remember that most people with physical disabilities receive social assistance and that their income is extremely low. I don't know about the rest of Canada, but at least that's the case in Quebec. That's the first issue. They generally have no savings. They spend their cheques as they receive them, because that is the only way they can manage. They are in survival mode.
As for the second problem, as I mentioned, there is a shortage of housing, particularly housing that is adapted for people with disabilities. They are basically confined to their homes year-round. They are already having a hard time finding resources to support them and it is already difficult for them to move around. Clearly, under such circumstances, when they cannot count on any savings, they cannot be asked to fund this effort.
The government has to subsidize people. First, the Government of Canada needs to increase transfers to the provinces and encourage the provinces to increase social assistance benefits, especially for those people, but also for all poor unemployed people. They should not be asked to fund this effort because they are not able to do so. Therefore, they should be paid an amount quickly, as the government has done with the CERB.
I'm not sure whether that answers your question.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Just to expand on that, would you say it's important for the government to collect data? I know we talked about it for black and indigenous peoples. For persons with disabilities, there seems to be a real gap in data collection.
Can you expand on that, please?
Marie-José Corriveau
View Marie-José Corriveau Profile
Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:41
Yes, I agree with you. Each time we have a census, we produce a report using the data that Statistics Canada sells us. However, for those with disabilities, we don't manage to get a clear picture, because the only data that we have available are not about households, but about individuals. For example, we have no way to determine whether a person with a disability belongs to a household that has a core housing need. For that reason only, it would be helpful and meaningful to have that information. I imagine that we would then be in a better position to grasp the extent of the need and to budget for it as a result.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Madame Corriveau, I have just one last question in that regard. Would you say that the failure to collect data further marginalizes disabled persons from accessing their human right to housing?
Marie-José Corriveau
View Marie-José Corriveau Profile
Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:42
I hesitate a little. I agree with you that we need more specific data. But I am more concerned about the homeless. I was talking about that earlier with another member of your committee. Currently, we have a problem: we are unable to accurately estimate the needs in terms of homelessness, because people are using a number of strategies to avoid ending up on the street. That is specifically the case with women. In actual fact, however, they are homeless. They have nowhere to live, nowhere to rent. They move from one person's house to another. Because it is impossible for them to find accommodation, they end up in violent situations that put their lives in danger.
People working in shelters for women in difficulty told us once again how much danger some women were in last spring because there was a shortage of housing, of cheap housing. But it was also because the places in those shelters had been restricted because of the lockdown measures. Because of the pandemic, a number of women were turned away and did not receive the help they needed.
I would have a hard time determining who wins the prize for being the worst off. We certainly need more data on those with disabilities. However, I am not able to tell you whether, on a per capita basis, that is the group in the worst situation. I just cannot tell you at present.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
—if we're expending federal dollars on capital programs, is it reasonable, based on your assessment of people with disabilities, to ask for new housing to meet minimum standards around accessibility? For example, the national housing strategy requires all new builds to be 20% accessible. Is that a reasonable social goal that a province could sign onto?
Marie-José Corriveau
View Marie-José Corriveau Profile
Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:53
That approach actually does not work. That's an example of a situation where Canada is too specific in its judgment.
Personally, I would really like the government to determine that the money it is giving must be spent on households that have a core housing need or must increase the number of households receiving assistance. What does not work in what you are describing is that, currently, there are municipalities and territories where the needs are much greater than 20%, but there are others where the needs are less than 20%. Are we going to start building adapted or adaptable housing for communities that do not need it, whereas elsewhere we do not have enough money to build enough of it? Each situation is best placed to provide us with that information.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
You do know that someone without disabilities can live in accessible housing. It doesn't require a person with disabilities to live there, but if it's purpose-built from the start, it's there in the future to be used. It's reasonable to set social parameters around social spending, especially when it's addressing people's charter rights. Wouldn't you agree?
Marie-José Corriveau
View Marie-José Corriveau Profile
Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:54
I agree in principle, but there is not enough money to meet all the needs. Do we agree on that? As I understand it, the federal housing allowance program is looking at 300,000 households. But right off the bat, we know that 1.7 million households have core housing needs. So we are in a deficit situation.
Would it be possible, in the period that we hope will be short, for rules of that kind not to be imposed, so that the needs expressed on the ground can be met? Additional conditions can then be imposed once a sufficient number of units has been reached.
I just want to point out that, according to that logic, housing has been built in some communities that does not meet the needs. I am sorry to say this, but adapted or adaptable housing is a little more expensive than other kinds because they are a little bigger and the costs are calculated by square-footage. We absolutely must not get into that kind of discussion. Currently, the greatest urgency is to get projects done, to build housing that is truly affordable and to subsidize it with an eye to the household income.
I am not saying that we should not have objectives, but could we please not fit them into too tight a framework?
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Good morning, everyone.
I'm pleased to be here with you today to speak about the emergency measures taken within the portfolio of Employment and Social Development Canada, or ESDC, to support Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. I also want to talk about their impact on the situation of women and on gender equality.
These emergency measures, like all the measures implemented by the Government of Canada, reflect our commitment to equality, fairness, inclusiveness and diversity.
Let me get right into it. Given the speed of the severity by which the pandemic struck our country, we made a decision to act as quickly as possible in order to assist Canadians by issuing financial assistance immediately. We lost no time. We acted swiftly and promptly with the CERB, the student benefit, wage subsidies and other measures. We accepted that our response would not be perfect, but we were committed to being quick and ensuring we could deliver. Canadians were relying on us, and we would be there for them.
We know that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women, putting them at greater risk of job loss, poverty, food insecurity, loss of housing and domestic violence, and I'd like to provide an overview of some of our measures.
As the pandemic made its way to Canada and began having tremendous impacts on our economy and our daily lives, our government acted quickly to create the Canada emergency response benefit. This benefit was created to help all Canadians who stopped working due to COVID-19.
I'll be honest with you: the CERB was conceived of, designed, approved, funded and legislated within a week. This was a massive new program being delivered to millions of Canadians, and the timelines were quite extraordinary. In this incredible timeline, there was no formal GBA+ study done. I say this because I want to be frank with you, but this in no way meant that we did not consider the needs and impacts on women at every decision point.
There were things that we absolutely knew. By delivering the CERB outside the EI system, we knew that we would be supporting Canadians with precarious work and Canadians who weren't eligible for EI. This meant that the most vulnerable workers, including women and persons with disabilities, would be supported—Canadians who would not have been supported through EI.
We also knew that people would not be able to work for reasons other than job loss, such as sickness or quarantine, elder care and child care. We knew that women would be the most impacted if the income support did not take into consideration these broader realities. We knew that women are generally overrepresented in minimum wage and low-paying occupations, such as educational services and food services, which we anticipated would be the hardest hit by the pandemic, and we knew how important it was to deliver a benefit that addressed the pandemic reality for every worker—women in particular.
This benefit ensures that all eligible workers receive $500 per week. The Canada emergency response benefit, or CERB, supports workers who have lost their jobs or who are unable to work because they are ill, they must self-isolate, or they need to take care of children or dependants as a result of the pandemic.
It also provides financial support to workers who are still employed but making under $1,000 every four weeks. To give you a sense of the scope of the need, more than 8 million workers have been paid more than $53 billion in benefits through the CERB. Fifty-one per cent of CERB recipients are men, 48% are women and 1% identify as gender diverse.
We recently extended the CERB by eight weeks to a maximum of 24 weeks. This is to ensure Canadians continue to get the support they need as the economy reopens. This is particularly important for women, who are facing the reality this summer of not being able to work even if they have a job to go back to, due to a lack of child care or summer camps. We recognize that our best strength for a recovery is getting people back into the labour force. This is why, with the extension of the CERB, we are encouraging workers who are able to return to work to do so, provided it's reasonable based on their individual circumstances. We are very realistic about the barriers being faced by women as they return to work.
Now, to go over to students and youth, we also know and have known from the beginning that this pandemic would have an impact on younger Canadians, and we had to think of innovative and targeted ways to support them. One significant way was helping students and youth through the Canada emergency student benefit. Students who are not receiving the CERB could be eligible to receive $1,250 per month during these important summer months that so many of them count on for financial stability.
As we know, women may account for almost two-thirds of the student population in universities in Canada. As a result, this financial support significantly helps women.
Keeping in line with our GBA+ lens, we decided that students with permanent disabilities and students with dependants would receive an additional $750 per month. This recognizes the additional expenses being incurred by students who are parents and by students with disabilities, as well as the additional barriers to employment being faced by female students, including the already mentioned lack of child care options this summer.
The CERB and the CESB have been providing much-needed support to millions of Canadians and to millions of Canadian women. Let me now highlight two other initiatives that are benefiting women in particular.
First, to help families, as was said, our government provided a one-time enhancement of $300 per child for families receiving the CCB. Starting on July 20, the CCB will be increased once again to keep up with the cost of living.
Second, recognizing the particular vulnerability of our seniors in this pandemic and understanding that 54% of the Canadian population over 65 are women, we are providing a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors who are eligible for old age security, with an additional $200 for seniors who are eligible for the GIS. Eligible seniors, as my colleague said, are receiving this one-time payment this week, and I know that this will be a welcome support for seniors in Canada.
I'll turn now to persons with disabilities. In addition to women facing heightened barriers and challenges during this pandemic, persons with disabilities are also disproportionately impacted.
According to the latest available data, more women than men have disabilities in Canada. The ratio is 2.1 million women to 1.7 million men. Currently, women with disabilities are particularly vulnerable because they very likely work in the hardest hit sectors of the economy. In addition, 60% of them are victims of violence.
We've been working with the disability community since the beginning. In the spirit of “nothing without us” and the Accessible Canada Act, and to support Canadians with disabilities, we established the COVID-19 disability advisory group.
The advisory group has raised key issues that affect Canadians with disabilities in the areas of health care, employment and social services, to name a few. They put an intersectional disability lens on the pandemic. They worked with the Public Health Agency on guidelines to ensure that people with disabilities are protected, listened to, supported and accommodated as necessary during this pandemic. They raised issues about triage and visitor policies with the health minister, who in turn brought these concerns to her provincial and territorial counterparts, which resulted in significant policy changes.
Thanks in part to the advice—
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
Excellent. Okay.
Thanks in part to the group's advice, we recognized that persons with disabilities had to incur some extraordinary costs during the pandemic. On June 5, the Prime Minister announced that, effective June 1, 2020, individuals who hold a disability tax credit certificate would receive a one-time payment of $600.
As you know, our government's effort to pass legislation to support implementation of this payment did not proceed as intended. Parties could not agree on the legislation. Therefore, the process to roll out this benefit has been delayed. However, I emphasize the “delayed” part. We remain committed to finding a solution that delivers this supplement to Canadians with disabilities.
Madam Chair, our government has been working relentlessly to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect Canadians' health and financial security during this pandemic. However, we know there is more work to be done. As we emerge from this crisis, we have an opportunity to design approaches to recovery that promote gender equality and a more inclusive society. That's what our government intends to keep doing.
To help ensure we leave no one behind, we commit absolutely to conducting rigorous GBA+ analysis as we gradually take measures to reopen the economy. My department is proud of its GBA+ centre of expertise, which has evolved over the years and will play a key role in ensuring that GBA+ is incorporated into our programs, policies and initiatives as we move forward.
Thank you. As well, I'd be happy to answer your questions.
View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Minister Qualtrough and Minister Monsef, for all the work you are doing on behalf of all Canadians, as we all try to navigate these unprecedented times.
My first question is for Minister Qualtrough. Thank you for all you have done during this pandemic.
Throughout the COVID pandemic, I've been hearing from many of my constituents with disabilities who live on limited fixed incomes that they are facing increased costs but haven't qualified for programs, such as the CERB. They were pleased when we announced the one-time, non-taxable payment of $600 to those eligible for the disability tax credit, but they are confused about why the opposition did not allow Parliament to debate this bill and what the status of this program is now.
I know that women with disabilities, in particular, need this support. Can you please help us understand just what happened and how we are going to get this support to those who need it, especially the women who are living with disabilities?
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
I thank you for your really important question.
People with disabilities have faced and are facing extraordinary expenses specific to COVID and additional barriers to getting the support and services they need. We wanted to ensure that we provided a supplement as opposed to an employment income replacement, as we did with seniors, that would ensure that these extraordinary expenses were the focus of this assistance.
We knew there was a gap in terms of.... We were able to provide...children with disabilities through CCB, seniors, students, low-income Canadians with disabilities through the GST, but there were significant cohorts.
What this pandemic has revealed is a gap in our system and a weakness in our policy and programs. We can't easily identify a group of Canadians with disabilities to connect with directly. The best group we had was disability tax credit claimants, but we needed legislation to allow the DTC data to be shared with my department in order to deliver this benefit. That's what the legislation would have done, unlock that data to allow us to deliver this supplement.
As I said in my opening remarks, I'm not in any way going to let this go. We are going to find a way to deliver this. I'm baffled, given the all-party support we had for the Accessible Canada Act, that we couldn't get all-party support, even when we took the disability piece out and tried to put it forth on its own, but I am no less committed. In fact, we are more resolved to deliver this, and we're going to find a way, hopefully, through legislation. That's the most inclusive and accessible way. If not, we're working on other options.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Dr. Siddiqi and Dr. McKenzie for your presentations.
I greatly appreciate hearing that from you. A lot of what you talked about is that data is lacking, and the fact that we need to have ongoing data. We've heard that throughout this committee. There is a big challenge in collecting and disseminating data, whether it's because of provincial barriers, federal barriers, etc.
You did talk about social inequality when you touched on the issue of income, you talked about housing and you talked about race, etc. I've noticed, in doing a little bit of research on you beforehand, that both of you have mentioned issues of persons with disabilities.
I'm wondering if you both could comment on that in this particular demographic. I'll start with Dr. McKenzie, and then Dr. Siddiqi you might be able to throw in some input on how this is having a big impact on dealing with that. You talked about how we need to hit the hardest hit group.
Kwame McKenzie
View Kwame McKenzie Profile
Kwame McKenzie
2020-07-07 12:36
I think it's really important to be thinking about disability.
I think I've mentioned before the analysis of comparing Germany to Canada. The big difference between Germany and Canada with regards to lives lost has been that 80% of people who've lost their lives in Canada are from long-term care, and only 34% of people who lost their lives in Germany are from long-term care. They sorted out long-term care and that made a difference.
In the end of this wave, and in the next wave, I believe it's going to be vulnerable populations such as people in congregate living situations, people with disabilities, who are going to be the next frontier for producing a quality and equitable response along with the racialized populations.
I think focusing on their needs, sitting down and working out what they need to be able to protect themselves is going to be important. As I said before, I agree with Dr. Siddiqi about the fundamental causes. I also think that we need to sit down and say to people with disabilities, “What do you need in order to be able to use the tools we've got? We have the tools of testing, physical distancing and tracing. How can you do this? What stops you from doing this?”
If we could start working those things out and finding innovative interventions, we might be able to protect a whole bunch of people in those groups because that's what happened in long-term care in different countries. Those countries had really good policies on prevention of infection in long-term care and they launched them at the same time as their lockdown, they protected their elderly—we didn't do that.
Arjumand Siddiqi
View Arjumand Siddiqi Profile
Arjumand Siddiqi
2020-07-07 12:38
I'll just add one which is from a data perspective.
I think, as Dr. McKenzie said, it would be important to understand what people with disabilities face and to engage with them about their needs.
It's also important to understand how this is an axis of vulnerability at the population level, and what the kinds of patterns are of things people are facing.
I'll just add that in relation to the earlier question about the infectious disease working group, there is a group.... I misspoke because there are two groups at our school. One group led by Kahiye Warsame, Yulika Yoshida-Montezuma, and others is looking into socio-economic issues and they may also be able to look at disability.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Chair, Canadians living with disabilities are used to overcoming challenges, but they shouldn't have to deal with more COVID-19 struggles when others have been given the help they need. The Liberals waited for months to address this. Then, when they introduced legislation for Canadians with disabilities last week, they demanded that Parliament fast-track their bill. Conservatives support the initiative, but we know that rushed government legislation ultimately lets Canadians down.
We move to recall Parliament immediately to debate and pass the legislation, which could have been done last week but the Liberals denied it. This avoidable delay hurts Canadians with disabilities. The government even said it could have achieved the same ends through regulation, so do it.
Better yet, recall Parliament for the summer. The Liberals have used COVID-19 for their own political ends and have turned their backs on Canadians with disabilities, denying them the timely support they needed.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-06-18 14:05
Mr. Chair, there are approximately six million people living with a disability in Canada. Before the pandemic, they were already struggling with inclusion, accessibility and poverty, and those issues have only been exacerbated.
This government prides itself on growing the middle class, but we must not forget that the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.
Can the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion share exactly how the government plans to support people living with a disability in the following months?
View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
Lib. (QC)
This is a very important question. We are all mindful of the additional and significant barriers that people living with disabilities have to fight and to live with in their particular circumstances. That's why we announced just a few days ago that we would be sending up to $600 of additional assistance to people living with disabilities.
Unfortunately, we didn't obtain the opportunity of debate on that last week—
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-06-18 14:06
Will there be a new bill tabled in the near future that people can count on?
View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, Canadians and all members of this House can count on the clear dedication and commitment of this government to support people with disabilities. We're going to look at all possible—
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
Canadians living with disabilities have been ignored throughout this pandemic. We forced and pushed the government to commit to helping Canadians living with disabilities almost two months ago, but still there is no help for them. When will Canadians living with disabilities get the help they need?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, from the beginning of this pandemic, the minister for Canadians with disabilities has worked with the community, worked to help out, and we as a government have stepped up on helping many, many people.
There is more to do, which is why we put forward legislation to send extra help to people with disabilities. Unfortunately, politics got in the way of that. We will continue to work on how to help people with disabilities.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, New Democrats are prepared to support legislation that helps all Canadians living with disabilities. When will the government bring forward legislation that helps them? We will support that legislation right away.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, we brought forward such legislation last week. Unfortunately, the Conservatives denied unanimous consent to be able to move forward to help people with disabilities with an extra $600—
View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, here is a beautiful story, the story of a woman from Bellechasse, a courageous young mother from Saint-Malachie, Marie-Christine Goupil.
With three children, including the eldest daughter with a disability, and realizing that her daughter with a disability had special clothing needs, she decided to go into business to meet the needs of other parents who, like her, were facing their child's clothing challenges.
Last week, she presented her Handy clothing collection on the show Dans l'œil du dragon. It was a very emotional moment for the audience and the dragons. They were so touched that they decided to give her the amount she wanted without diluting her shares.
The video of her presentation has already been viewed over 1 million times on social networks. Marie-Christine Goupil has discovered a passion for entrepreneurship and has moved and inspired many people with her passionate and courageous attitude.
Congratulations, Ms. Goupil, your example makes us proud.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
It seems to me that the word “alignment” here is a fantasy. We have unequivocally proposed to extend the debate to reach an agreement, which brings me to my second question.
Last week, the issue of assistance to people with disabilities was also a pressing concern, and it's even more so a week later. The Bloc proposed to extend the discussions and split the government's bill in two to help people with disabilities.
Why is the government refusing this assistance to people with disabilities, when it could have been debated with the opposition in a civilized and proper way in a Parliament in which it has a minority?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
That was exactly what we wanted, but unanimous consent of the Chamber was required to debate this matter, and the Conservative Party of Canada voted against it.
Unfortunately, we are going to have to find a different way to help people with disabilities.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
If the idea is so good and wonderful, why not start over and open the dialogue now? What's stopping the Prime Minister from being a rallying point and inviting us to take to each other and resolve the problem, rather than saying that he is going to pack up his toys and go home? The people with disabilities are the ones who will pay the price.
Where was the Prime Minister on October 21, 2019? He received a minority mandate from Quebeckers and Canadians. Why is he behaving like something between a prime minister with a majority and a monarch by divine right?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
I've heard the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois throw their accusations around.
They don't point out that the House of Commons did indeed give its consent to extend the mandate of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic until the end of June. Three parties agreed, which was the right thing to do in the context of this minority government.
We've been working with the other parties. However, as they did not get the results they wanted, they complained. Unfortunately, they too are part of a minority Parliament and must respect the voice of the majority of parliamentarians, just as we do.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Chair.
I would also like to thank our witnesses for their previous testimony and welcome them back to the HUMA committee.
I just want to mention for the record that the bill the Liberal members on this committee are referring to that was presented last week was an omnibus bill. I was very disappointed when the Conservatives' motion to reconvene Parliament to consider the government's legislation was rejected. I, as well as my Conservative colleagues, am ready every single day to return to Parliament to do the full scope of work that Canadians have elected us to do.
My first question is for Angela Bonfanti with CNIB. I know that CNIB has put forward a list of recommendations to improve accessibility to existing supports, particularly around the Canada emergency response benefit. As has been mentioned already in this meeting, months into this crisis the Prime Minister has announced some supports for persons with disabilities, but unfortunately needs—and we know this—don't wait for these supports to become available. The government is now playing catch-up in this area.
I'm just wondering if you can speak to the importance of flexibility in designing these relief measures and the importance of having an accessibility lens from the outset in creating government programs.
Angela Bonfanti
View Angela Bonfanti Profile
Angela Bonfanti
2020-06-15 14:35
It's really important for us to talk about the fact that this is not a one-pronged approach. The stimulus is a great first step for individuals. We also need to be talking about accessibility and inclusion from the legislative side of things. We also need to be talking about employers and the incentivization to help ensure that people with disabilities continue to join the workforce as we go.
We were very vocal throughout the development of Bill C-81 around nothing for us without us, and I think that needs to be very much at the helm of anything that is decided by way of managing the pandemic moving forward for this particular group of the community.
Also, there are roughly 90,000 registered Canadian charities out there. Paulette and I are two of many. However, there are few of us that deal directly with Canada's most vulnerable. I believe there is still an opportunity to prioritize any further stimulus for charities dealing with Canadians in difficult situations directly and to look at a potentially long-term support that is scalable so we can catch up with our revenues as we move forward.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you.
During the study of Bill C-81 in the previous Parliament, we heard repeatedly about the importance of the accessibility lens when government programs are being created, as well as the importance of plain-language communications. The point was well made, I think, that all Canadians benefit from greater accessibility. Certainly, in the area of plain language we can see how it would have improved the government's response, as so many Canadians are now being required to pay back CERB.
A lot of the testimony we've heard has underscored, in my view, how far we are from achieving an accessible Canada. Can you speak to the opportunities for the government to help ensure an accessible Canada in its ongoing response to COVID-19 and, as a learning opportunity, where the government may have missed the mark on it?
Angela Bonfanti
View Angela Bonfanti Profile
Angela Bonfanti
2020-06-15 14:37
I certainly believe there are some elements, including a number of groups of individuals with disabilities. The name of the committee escapes me right now, but my colleague Diane Bergeron sits with Carla Qualtrough on this one committee. So more of that inclusion....
I do agree; I think there was a lot of confusion around the various programs. I think when you peel back another layer and you look at provinces and accessibility to provincial information, and then you peel another layer down and go to the municipality, if all of them aren't working in unison and have that commitment to accessibility, it really makes the piece baseless. I think that's our message. If accessibility and inclusion are at the helm, regardless of whether it's a stand-alone federal government program or it impacts other jurisdictions, we really need to be thinking about that person first.
Yes, the easy flow of information really makes a difference for many Canadians, and not just those living with sight loss. While I think there was a lot of information, and we didn't know what we didn't know, organizations like CNIB have certainly helped those individuals who identify with sight loss to navigate it. That's why we developed over 350 new virtual programs, many of them dedicated to helping people understand what this means for them and what support is out there, one-on-one and in group settings.
We understand that the government can't do it alone. We're here to help. Again, we work directly with those individuals to make sure that if they have questions or they have needs, we are one of the organizations that will help them navigate through these very difficult times.
View Kate Young Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kate Young Profile
2020-06-15 14:43
Thank you very much.
Ms. Bonfanti, I'll turn to you for a moment, if I could. I was so impressed when you made your presentation and said that the CNIB had reached out to nearly 10,000 Canadians since the beginning of COVID. I'm sure their concerns have changed over the last couple of months, but just to go back to what we were saying before, it is so important for the government to move forward and to make sure that people with disabilities do get the money that they desperately need.
Angela Bonfanti
View Angela Bonfanti Profile
Angela Bonfanti
2020-06-15 14:43
Yes, absolutely. I don't know if there was a question there that you wanted me to answer specifically, but I would absolutely agree. We're at just about 10,000 calls completed. These are unique calls. They are conversations; they're not attempts. We have tens of thousands more in attempts.
What we're hearing hasn't really changed, if I can be honest, over the last couple of months. People are still afraid. They still don't know what this means for them in the long term. They don't know what this means for them and their jobs and their families. Many of them have young families and have been forced to stay away from work.
Also, we're hearing about a lot of discrimination. It's unintended, yes, and we understand that people are scared for themselves, but we're hearing about people being ostracized because they have to use their fingers to touch an elevator button. Well, they can't see to use their elbows. We're also hearing about people being ostracized at grocery stores because they need a sighted guide. They're showing up at their local grocery stores, which have had to change the whole layout of their supermarket, and they have no idea what's in an aisle anymore, and there's a piece of paper with writing on it in pencil.
In a world where we're trying to be contactless for everything, we really have a huge opportunity to not forget about individuals who see the world through touch. That is a major concern for us. We hear that on nearly every one of our calls. That continues to happen on a daily basis.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to turn to Ms. Bonfanti to talk about disability support. In the ideal universe, the NDP would like to see a universal direct payment for all, yet the government decided not to do that, so we've had to push hard for it to come in with a disability program.
This program will allow for up to $600 for people with disabilities: $100 if you are somebody with a valid disability tax credit certificate eligible for both GIS and OAS; $300 if you are a person with a certificate and OAS; and $600 if you don't qualify for any program but have the certificate.
I wonder, Ms. Bonfanti, what your thoughts are with respect to the different kinds of support for people with disabilities.
Angela Bonfanti
View Angela Bonfanti Profile
Angela Bonfanti
2020-06-15 15:02
Thank you for the question.
Should any such basic income be discussed, again I would bring up the principle of “nothing for us without us”. Oftentimes, these things are discussed and the disability community is not engaged in meaningful consultation, so I would encourage these conversations to continue, but such a program should include additional funding, for example, for the unique needs people with disabilities may incur, such as expensive adaptive and assistive technologies.
We know that assistive technologies such as a smart phone have been an absolute game-changer for individuals with disabilities, so where in that is the credit considered? It is a multifaceted issue, and we would encourage consultation—in-depth and meaningful consultation—with the disability community before it's brought forward.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
Has there been any consultation with your organization on this?
Angela Bonfanti
View Angela Bonfanti Profile
Angela Bonfanti
2020-06-15 15:02
On this particular issue—honestly, pre-COVID I'm a bit fuzzy—there has been nothing that has been long-standing, as far as I'm concerned.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
I'm going to turn to Ms. Senior for a minute.
On the same question, for women with disabilities, we have a differential of support from this program. What are your thoughts on that?
Paulette Senior
View Paulette Senior Profile
Paulette Senior
2020-06-15 15:03
Similarly, I think it's important to consult. We have been a long-time partner of the DisAbled Women's Network, which is a national network addressing issues for women with disabilities. I think it's really important to consult. I could not...and I don't think it's appropriate for me to actually say what I think. I think it's important to hear from folks who are impacted more specifically before decisions are made.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Retired Major Mark Campbell in my riding of Sturgeon River—Parkland lost both legs in the line of duty in Afghanistan. He is an avid sport shooter, but understandably, due to his disability, he is very limited in the kinds of firearms he can use, and all of these firearms have now been banned under the Liberal OIC.
My question to the Minister of Public Safety is this: Did their department do a legal analysis and consider the section 15 charter rights of disabled Canadians not to be discriminated against when they passed their OIC?
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, there was a very thorough analysis done by the justice department to ensure that the prohibitions we put in place were, in fact, charter compliant.
Let me also say, Mr. Chair, how important it was that we prohibited weapons that were not designed for sporting purposes at all. In fact, they were designed for soldiers to use in combat. They have no place in a civil society. We have prohibited them, and we believe—and this has been echoed by many people across the country—that this will make Canadians safer.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, is the minister aware that the AR-15 is the most popular sporting rifle in Canada, and is he aware that disabled veterans like Major Mark Campbell are unable to participate in the sport of sport shooting because of his OIC?
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
I can assure the member that what I am aware of is that the AR-15 and other weapons like them have been used in mass killings in Canada on many occasions, such as at École Polytechnique, at Dawson College, again at the Quebec mosque and in Moncton. The AR-15s in particular were also used at the terrible tragedy in places like Sandy Hook, where a bunch of kids were killed, so there is no place for—
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Chair, I will come back to the bill introduced last week. As parliamentarians, we felt like we were watching a very bad play, as I imagine the public did. I say that it was theatre, even though it shouldn't be in this place. The government decided to stage a play and act alone and, unfortunately, there were several acts missing.
A very important part of this bill was about supporting people with disabilities in this time of crisis. However, the government did not see fit to negotiate with the opposition parties, even though it is in a minority position. Despite this arrogance, the Bloc Québécois proposed solutions. One of the things we proposed was to split the bill so that we could give this support to people with disabilities, but the Conservatives did not want to do that. We came back and asked for time to negotiate and give support to people with disabilities, but the government defeated the motion.
We asked that the House be recalled today so that we could pass this part of the bill concerning support for people with disabilities, but we are still in the dark.
Why are we abandoning people with disabilities?
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I thank the hon. member for her question.
We know this pandemic has deeply affected the lives and health of all Canadians and has disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities in particular.
From the very beginning, we've taken a disability-inclusive approach to our emergency response to ensure that Canadians with disabilities get the support they need. That is why we announced a one-time payment of $600 for persons with disabilities to address these expenses. This will go a long way toward helping Canadians with disabilities.
We encourage and urge all parties in the opposition to support this measure. We're confident that this measure, along with other investments, will benefit Canadians with disabilities, and we hope to get the support of the other parties very soon.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Chair, I remind you that this measure wasn't passed because we weren't allowed to do so.
A measure to help people with disabilities has been put in an omnibus bill. We've tried here, in the House, to provide the means to give that support, so I ask again, can the government be counted on to give a response to people with disabilities?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Chair, it was absolutely not an omnibus bill. It contained assistance for the disabled, of course, but it also contained assistance for our seasonal workers, as well as a number of other measures that the Bloc Québécois opposed. They refused to debate and, when the question of splitting the bill came up, the Conservatives refused to do that. That is why there is no bill at the moment, and that is very unfortunate.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
We asked on a number of occasions for the House to be able to sit starting today to pass the part of the bill dealing with those with disabilities.
What is the status of that, Madam Chair? We have not heard about it since.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Chair, my colleague knows very well that things are not as simple as that. There are procedural mechanisms unique to the House.
I hope that, one day, we will be able to pass this bill and be able to provide assistance for those living with disabilities. I hope that the Conservatives will change their minds and give us their support.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I would say and suggest that with all the loan guarantees being offered, we've socialized the risk and continue to privatize the profit, but I'll move on to my next question.
For people with disabilities, for one one-thousandth of what is being provided to Canada's big banks, every person with a disability across the country could receive a small benefit of $600 to weather this crisis. There was a misfire with the government's announcement that it would only apply to people who have the disability tax credit, which means, largely, people with disabilities who have a taxable income. However, the poorest of the poor among people with disabilities are not covered, yet within the Canada Revenue Agency you have access to information on those who receive the CPP disability, those who use alternative formats through disabled access to CRA, and through the T5007, access to who is getting disability supports through the provinces.
Why are you not extending the benefit to every person with a disability?
View Bill Morneau Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Julian, I appreciate your bringing this up. We were extremely disappointed that we were not able to move forward on the measure that was going to provide $600 to people with disabilities across the country, a very large number of people with disabilities.
View Bill Morneau Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think you point out appropriately that there are different ways that different parts of the economy look at people with disabilities. Obviously, we came up with an approach that we thought would have a very significant impact on a very large cross-section of people experiencing particular challenges. I'm just hoping that we can get this back on track, because to me it's unacceptable that we can't actually deliver on what we're trying to deliver for people with disabilities.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, today, the Prime Minister is shamefully misleading Canadians, trying to shirk responsibility for his failures in providing help for people with disabilities. He is letting people with disabilities down. He is the one who waited months before bringing proposals forward to help people with disabilities. Then yesterday, when Conservatives proposed a motion to have Parliament meet to debate this legislation, it was Liberals who said no. Can the Deputy Prime Minister explain why Liberals refused to allow the House to debate this bill yesterday?
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I am very glad to hear that question, because it allows me to make an offer to the Conservative Party to correct what may well have been an honest mistake they made in the parliamentary hurly-burly yesterday.
Yesterday, a clear opportunity was offered to all members of this House to have a vote specifically and narrowly on the question of whether we would offer Canadians with disabilities up to $600 of additional—
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