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View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-21 14:54 [p.29473]
I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend Her Excellency this day in the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms—Chapter 9.
C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada—Chapter 10.
S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins)—Chapter 11.
C-82, An Act to implement a multilateral convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting—Chapter 12.
C-59, An Act respecting national security matters—Chapter 13.
C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence—Chapter 14.
C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 15.
C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act—Chapter 16.
C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)—Chapter 17.
C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 18.
C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 19.
C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis—Chapter 20.
C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020—Chapter 21.
C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act—Chapter 22.
C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages—Chapter 23.
C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families—Chapter 24.
C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 25.
C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast—Chapter 26.
C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act—Chapter 27.
C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 28.
C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures—Chapter 29.
It being 2:55 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:55 p.m.)
The 42nd Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on September 11, 2019.
Aboriginal languagesAboriginal peoplesAccess for disabled peopleAccess to informationAdjournmentAgriculture, environment and natural res ...British ColumbiaBudget 2019 (March 19, 2019)C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tarif ...C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majest ...C-48, An Act respecting the regulation o ... ...Show all topics
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
2019-06-04 15:05 [p.28505]
Mr. Speaker, on the eve of our third annual National AccessAbility Week, and of course with Bill C-81 having gone through this House last week, I can assure every Canadian that we will find jobs for these workers. In fact, we are showing them the dignity of giving them meaningful work so that they contribute to government operations.
I have been working with the organization. No one will be without a job.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2019-06-03 14:07 [p.28403]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the House that Prince Edward Islander Hannah MacLellan will be representing Canada at a UN conference on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York next week.
At 20, Hannah has already made her mark in P.E.I. politics. She was the driving force in the adoption of a bill known as Hannah's Bill, which passed through the P.E.I. legislature in 2016.
While working toward a degree in human rights and disability studies, Hannah has been an active member of the Carleton University Young Liberals and is a valuable employee in my office. She has been a fixture in the gallery of this place, especially during the debate on the government's bill to create a barrier-free Canada. Hannah most recently represented the riding of Cardigan in Parliament for Daughters of the Vote, where she gave an impassioned speech on Bill C-81.
I am proud to say that persons with disabilities have a formidable advocate in Ms. MacLellan. Today also happens to be her birthday. I wish Hannah a happy birthday.
View Kate Young Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kate Young Profile
2019-05-31 11:47 [p.28351]
Mr. Speaker, our government believes that all Canadians deserve to have the same opportunities and chances at success. Bill C-81, the accessible Canada act, was passed with unanimous consent this week. Once it receives royal assent, it will allows us to transition from a system where Canadians with disabilities have to fight for every basic access, to a new system that systematically identifies and prevents barriers from the start. This legislation reflects the work and commitment of those in the disability community who, for years, have been tireless advocates of an accessible Canada. This success is theirs.
View Wayne Long Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Wayne Long Profile
2019-05-29 14:15 [p.28215]
Mr. Speaker, on Sunday I was honoured to help kick off Disability Awareness Week celebrations at key industries in Saint John.
Disability Awareness Week is a time for all of us to promote accessibility and inclusion, and to celebrate the incredible social and economic contributions that Canadians with disabilities make to our communities. It is also a time for us to redouble our commitment to the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.
Our government is doing this by advancing Bill C-81, which represents the most significant advancement of rights of persons with disabilities in Canada since the advent of the charter. I was thrilled to be able to contribute to the strengthening of this historic legislation at committee, and I look forward to standing up for the rights of persons with disabilities by standing up for this legislation later this week.
I will always stand up for the rights of persons with disabilities in Saint John—Rothesay.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today at the last stage of debate on Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, also known as the accessible Canada act.
Dedicated and tireless work has gone into this bill ever since it was introduced in the House last June. Many, many people spent considerable time and energy on this historic bill, including people with disabilities, stakeholders and organizations that have a role to play in making Canada accessible. More specifically, the disability community was heavily involved throughout the parliamentary process, and thanks to their efforts these people now have a bill that reflects their voices and priorities.
We should all be very proud of the hard work that went into this bill. Everyone who took part in this process understands the particular significance of this legislation.
This bill represents a historic milestone for the rights of persons with disabilities in Canada. It builds on our country's strong human rights system and is a major step in the ongoing implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Canada has certainly come a long way on accessibility. However, for millions of persons with disabilities across this country who continue to face barriers every single day in their communities and workplaces, this bill is long overdue. The proposed accessible Canada act pursues a simple, but essential, goal: to realize a Canada without barriers.
What the accessible Canada act is proposing is a major culture shift. Right now, our current system requires persons with disabilities to fight for access and inclusion. We have all seen it. We all know somebody who is facing challenges with their mobility, people who cannot hear and people who cannot see, who yet want to make a contribution to our society and live their lives fully. We have to take them into account. We have to address their needs.
The proposed accessible Canada act sets out to change that and create a Canada that is inclusive and accessible for everyone from the get-go. Canadians with disabilities are tired of being treated as an afterthought. This is what Bill C-81 sets out to do: to transform our perceptions of disability and ensure accessibility and inclusion from the start.
Improving the quality of life of Canadians with disabilities is a priority of this government. That is why we are not even waiting for this legislation to be enacted before taking meaningful steps. The steps that we are taking to improve the Canadian Transportation Agency regulations are a good example of this. The goal of these regulations is an ambitious one: to create the most accessible transportation system in the world.
Here I want to take a minute to thank the Canadian Transportation Agency, which is playing a pivotal and extremely important role in addressing the issues related to transportation. That is the kind of ambition that we need and which Canadians living with disabilities deserve.
We are taking a sectoral approach with this legislation. The opposition has criticized us for this, but it makes sense to take this approach since accessibility is everyone's responsibility. All departments need to take accessibility into account as they make decisions, devise policies and prioritize spending. There must always be a focus, among all of the other priorities associated with legislation and regulations, on what those do with respect to accessibility. That is why, for example, in the transportation realm, we are strengthening the powers of the Canadian Transportation Agency. This will have a significant impact across the country for Canadians living with disabilities.
Our government has devoted special attention to accessibility in the transportation sector, which has been made a priority item in this bill. We are committed to protecting and promoting the dignity and human rights of people with disabilities by ensuring that we have a transportation system that is truly accessible from coast to coast to coast.
I myself take the train every week, I fly frequently, and I use other modes of transportation from time to time. We are very conscious of the fact that using the modes of transportation we take for granted can make travel very challenging, if not impossible, for certain people with disabilities.
In the federal transportation sector, service providers will be required to develop accessibility plans and provide progress reports, as well as respond to the feedback generated by the process. They will also be required to consult people with disabilities in the development of those accessibility plans so as to ensure that the community is reflected in the plans now and in the future. They will also have to implement meaningful organizational and culture change with respect to accessibility.
The bill sets out additional requirements to guarantee that the government proactively assumes its responsibilities when it comes to identifying, removing and preventing barriers. Where barriers do exist, we need to have stronger redress mechanisms.
This is our opportunity to achieve yet another historic milestone for disability rights in Canada. Here, I want to take a second to speak about the incredible leadership of our Minister of Public Services and Procurement on this particular file, as well as the leadership of our Prime Minister, who, for the first time in our history, has given the issue of accessibility the importance, the priority and urgency it deserves.
Accessibility and inclusion benefit everyone. The proposed accessible Canada act will not only improve the day-to-day lives of millions of people in Canada, but also have broader positive economic and social benefits. Ensuring accessible workplaces and employment practices means taking advantage of a large and untapped and talented labour market. Making goods, services, facilities and programs accessible means benefiting from the business of a major client base. Removing and preventing the barriers that stop persons with disabilities from fully participating in our communities means levelling the playing field so that every person can live a full and meaningful life. This is what Canada is all about.
We now have the chance to address the systemic barriers and inequity that still exist today. The barriers faced by persons with disabilities are real and tangible. To take down those barriers, we need to get Bill C-81, the accessible Canada act, passed as soon as possible. We cannot afford to wait. Persons with disabilities have so much to offer our society. They are willing, eager and able to participate and contribute and we need to insist on their much-needed social and economic participation.
We have the opportunity to make Canada truly accessible and inclusive. We must do our duty as the federal government and pass the accessible Canada act without further delay. Canadians expect an innovative and forward-thinking transportation system that is dependable, safe and accessible.
The bill ensures that these objectives are met, especially when it comes to promoting the human rights of persons with disabilities, and that Canada is recognized as a global leader.
Today we literally have an opportunity to make history. We have been extremely flexible and open to all the proposed amendments. By passing Bill C-81, we will take another step toward an inclusive society where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. We will no longer have a system where persons with disabilities have to struggle every day to obtain basic access.
It is essential that we pass this bill to bring down the barriers faced by persons with disabilities in Canada. We must get this bill passed as soon as possible to start working together for a barrier-free Canada. The real work will begin once the bill has been passed, and we must do it together.
I will conclude by asking all members of the House to take a few seconds to think about the following.
All members know somebody who is facing challenges with respect to a handicap. We all know people in that situation, and we all know they face barriers in society that they should not have to face. All members know that we have an obligation, as a responsible government, to do something about that.
I urge all members to pass the bill as quickly as possible. The time has come, and the discussion is over. This will be historic and important for all Canadians for years to come.
View Mike Lake Profile
View Mike Lake Profile
2019-05-29 18:46 [p.28250]
Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the hon. member knows, the bill will pass in about half an hour or less. After a couple more speeches, we will be at that point. It is a good day for Parliament.
I have had the opportunity to serve with the member on the industry committee in a previous life, prior to the last election, and I enjoyed the non-partisan conversations we had at that time, just as I enjoyed his speech today. He rightfully gave commendation to the minister, recognizing the work she has done in sharing her life experience to help people who have had similar life experiences.
I would also like to recognize our former minister of finance, who did the same thing for 10 years in the House, using his life experience to inform his policy decisions.
This is questions and comments, and I am going to sit down and leave this as a comment, thanking the Minister of Accessibility for her work on this file and thanking the Minister of Transport, who just spoke, for his non-partisan speech.
In the spirit of this day, as we work together to create a better world for Canadians living with disabilities, I will end my comments there.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his comment. Indeed, he is right. We have had the opportunity to work together. In the old days before the last election, when I was the industry critic, I appreciated working with him and I appreciated his open-mindedness. We quite often agreed on a number of things, although not every time.
I want to commend my colleague for the example he has shown in this Parliament every year by speaking about his son and about autism. I think he has played an enormously important role in sensitizing all of us in the House. I commend him for his work and for his positive comments today.
View Alice Wong Profile
View Alice Wong Profile
2019-05-29 18:49 [p.28250]
Mr. Speaker, I would again like to thank all of the ministers who put this together and worked with all parties on this very useful and timely bill. As I mentioned earlier in another debate, I married a person who is very smart and who is going through challenges because he is losing his sight. As I have said, seniors also age into disabilities. That is something the two ministers could also look into. How can we help seniors who are not born disabled or do not have chronic diseases, but are aging into disabilities?
I was in Australia on my own time and dime looking at some of the job training programs there. One of the very successful things it has done is to train autistic adults, who have now, as a result, actually learned enough skills to become independent. I agree with my colleague, the shadow minister for finance, that creating jobs and training opportunities for these adults with autism or other challenges is utterly important. As soon as persons with disabilities have financial independence, then everything goes well with them. I wanted to bring that to all of our attention. We should look at training these adults so they can be able, rather than disabled, people.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, my colleague is very right. Sometimes we have a tendency to think of persons with disabilities as having been born with those disabilities. That is sometimes the case, but she is quite right in pointing out that sometimes disabilities occur later in life as people age. People sometimes age into disabilities.
I certainly remember watching my mother very closely before she died, somebody I remember in my youth as being very active, a tennis player, somebody who skied and brought up four children, and I know the frustration she felt as she grew older and could not move around on her own but needed help to do so in the last three or four years of her life. She was also blind because of macular degeneration, which is a fairly common thing that happens when people get older. I sensed her frustration, and it closed her world.
Even though she was past the professional working age, it closed her world down. It is important to think not only about what we are doing with this bill to help people to participate in professional life, but also to think of the quality of their lives after their professional lives and as they get older. I thank the member for bringing that up.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-05-29 18:53 [p.28250]
Mr. Speaker, I know this legislation has definitely shown leadership by this government and the minister responsible. What I would like to know, and I know my constituents in my riding of Waterloo would like to know, is how Transport Canada is getting ahead of the measures in this act to ensure that more Canadians will be able to benefit and be part of a more inclusive and accessible Canada.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, one of the areas that is very much a responsibility of Transport Canada is passenger rail service. At the moment, the existing accessibility requirements are very basic. There is a position in a passenger wagon that can accommodate one wheelchair, and it can be challenging to get the person into the train itself.
The VIA fleet is being renewed and we knew ahead of time that accessibility was going to be an important consideration. As this VIA fleet is being replaced, we are providing a requirement that people be able to stay in their wheelchairs and be lifted into the train, and also that one of the passenger wagons be capable of accommodating two wheelchairs side by side. These are examples of things that we are thinking about ahead to time, so that in 2022, when the new fleet begins to come in, this kind of capability will be there.
We are also talking to the airlines and will be talking to the intercity bus services to look at what measures we need to put in place to satisfy accessibility requirements.
View Luc Berthold Profile
View Luc Berthold Profile
2019-05-29 18:55 [p.28251]
Mr. Speaker, I would really like to thank the minister for his speech.
I know that a lot of people are watching right now, including individuals who worked very hard on this bill, so I would just like to take this opportunity to tell them that this is a step in the right direction. It is a good bill.
Let's not forget that this should serve as a model to all other sectors. This bill covers only federal entities, but I hope many other organizations and large corporations will follow this example and adopt their own accessibility plans so as to make all workplaces and communities more accessible for people with mobility issues and other limitations.
That is the message I wanted to share. It is definitely a first step, but much more needs to be done. I think this bill, which will become law, can be used to set an example for all other Canadian industries and businesses.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments.
He is right. The proposed bill has federal jurisdiction. However, other levels of government and the private sector must follow suit to ensure accessibility everywhere.
The provinces are taking notice of our leadership. They want to model their policies after ours.
I believe it is important that this bill move forward because I am certain the provinces will follow our example in their own jurisdictions. We know that some municipalities are already taking action on this.
Momentum is building for accessibility and it is very encouraging. I believe that passing this bill will truly help focus attention on accessibility.
View Luc Berthold Profile
View Luc Berthold Profile
2019-05-29 18:57 [p.28251]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the ministers for the work they did on Bill C-81. I would also like to recognize the excellent work of the member for Edmonton Mill Woods, who motivated us and brought us together on this bill. My colleague who is here beside me also deserves a round of applause for his work.
It is an honour for me to speak to this bill, and I believe I may be the last one to do so. I have always cared about and been committed to the cause of people with reduced mobility and disabilities.
When I began my career, I was a young radio host and the very first volunteer work that I was called upon to do in that capacity was to host a radiothon, a telethon for cerebral palsy. I do not know whether Quebeckers or members of the House remember the major cerebral palsy telethon with well-known radio and television host Serge Laprade. Every year for many years, Quebeckers looked forward to this major televised event, which sought to raise money for people with disabilities.
It was a first. Once a year, on television, we were seeing people who had difficulty doing the same things as everyone else. We were seeing people who needed help and money from others to live. I do not know whether similar events were held elsewhere, so I will talk about Quebec.
Quebeckers were always very generous. Year after year, more and more people contributed to this cause. In addition to helping people with disabilities, this event began to raise awareness of the importance of meeting the accessibility needs of people with disabilities, who are people just like us. In the beginning, these telethons had a tendency to paint people with disabilities as people we should pity. That is how it was. The scenes that were shown depicted the challenges and hardship these individuals face. People with cerebral palsy sometimes have difficulty speaking and so those watching had to pay close attention to understand what they were saying.
Canadians and Quebeckers had a rather fraught relationship with disabilities. There were these telethons, but there were also telethons in small regions like my own. The Caisse populaire had hosted a small local telethon and brought in people with cerebral palsy. People found out that talking with them was very pleasant. The problem was that the people with disabilities could not actually get into the buildings where our telethons or radiothons were being held. They had to be picked up and carried in. Even the places hosting telethons or activities for people with disabilities were not accessible.
One of the first decisions that the volunteer organization made was to build a ramp. Now these people could get into the building where we were ready and willing to help them. We wanted to involve them so they could be there with us to help raise funds. That is one of the objectives of the bill that I am going to talk about later on.
I had so much fun at the telethon that I decided to become president of my riding's cerebral palsy association in Thetford Mines. It was a small association, yet it somehow managed to raise $50,000, $60,000 or $80,000 a year. It worked miracles with that money, mainly raising public awareness, because renovating buildings costs a lot of money, more than $60,000 or $80,000.
Anyway, I became president of the association, and one of the first things we did was increase the number of directors with cerebral palsy or other disabilities or conditions, so that we could make decisions with them, for them. That is one of the elements of the bill that really struck a chord with me. This is not a bill that is going to impose anything on people with disabilities. Instead, it focuses on working with them to find solutions.
A particular decision may sometimes seem like a smart one, but it could ultimately serve no purpose to persons with disabilities. They may not need it. The radiothon was more than just a first volunteer experience. It was an opportunity to interact with people who are different, who have things to say and who want to do things. These are extraordinary people.
My volunteer experience changed my perspective. Everywhere I go, every organization or public building I visit, anytime I play a sport or recreational activity, I always take some time to ask myself whether the space is accessible by all. I ask myself if everyone can participate in this sport or if everyone can work in this space. Unfortunately there is still a lot more work left to do.
Although I completely agree with this legislation, it really is just a first step. The bill allocates money, shows goodwill and proposes some plans, which all represent one small step. Although this step is a small one, it is still a step forward. This is something that had not yet been done and that was necessary.
As I said, I started doing volunteer work on the radio in 1985. It is now 2019 and we are still trying to implement accessibility plans. I have had the opportunity, and I truly consider it an opportunity, to work with persons with disabilities. It makes absolutely no sense to me that we are still having to introduce accessibility legislation. Accessibility should already be standard practice. We should not even have to ask the question. An accessibility plan should simply be the same thing as the architectural plan for all spaces, for all projects. This is why it is a great honour to speak to this bill this evening.
Volunteering gets in your blood. It is infectious. I was the mayor of Thetford Mines. One of the first things I did was check all the municipal buildings to make sure everything was okay. I was mayor of Thetford Mines for seven years. I did not manage to make the Thetford Mines city council chamber accessible. It is not an easy thing to do. It costs a lot of money and requires a lot of investment. We have to send a message: every infrastructure project should always include an envelope for making all public buildings accessible. If not, then we have to convince seven other people who did not have the same volunteering experience that I did to invest a significant amount of money to allow a person from the community to attend a municipal council meeting once a year. Trying to convince colleagues around the table is not always easy. I did not succeed.
We started making progress. We decided to move the council chamber. We gutted a building and decided that the next council chamber would be at that location on the ground floor and therefore accessible. We did not get that far because we did not manage to get the funding to build a new city hall, but that is another story.
In any case, that is where we are today. All elected officials, anyone who is in a position of authority, all departments, organizations and Crown corporations under the minister's responsibility must keep this in mind and steer policy in that direction. If a portion of infrastructure budgets is not dedicated to improving the quality of life of people who cannot access the full range of services they are entitled to, to the same degree as all other Canadians, then we will have failed.
I will speak to Bill C-81 and review a few points for people listening to us, because this is important.
The purpose of this bill is to benefit all persons, especially persons with disabilities, through the progressive realization, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, of a Canada without barriers, through proactive compliance and enforcement measures of accessibility standards that regulated parties must respect and uphold. Upholding these standards is another important aspect.
Sometimes, a grant is provided to install a ramp. However, the ramp has to be maintained. After five years, a hole may appear in the ramp and someone in a wheelchair will not be able to use it. If it cannot be used, it is no longer accessible. The ramp needs to be maintained. It is great to receive a given amount of money, but these structures have to be maintained. That is why the accessibility plan requires us to report after a certain number of years. That is an important element of the bill. It is a good initiative.
The requirement for all federally regulated entities, including private enterprises, to create multi-year accessibility plans, set objectives and present a report on what was done has been included in the bill. That is what I was referring to in the question I put to the minister just before giving my speech.
It is good to set an example, but that is only the first step. This needs to happen everywhere. We have to ensure that all Canadians get the message—not just those working in federally regulated sectors, but those working in large and small businesses as well. Thinking about the accessibility of our buildings should be second nature.
The Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization is a Crown corporation tasked with creating standards. I am always a bit afraid of new agencies. I always worry that more money is being invested in the offices than on the ground. That is one of my concerns. However, if we do not start somewhere, we will not get anything done. It is a vicious circle.
Personally, I hope that this organization will be more concerned with what is happening on the ground than with office management and expansion. We do not want to have everyone with disabilities working in the same agency. We want them to work everywhere, in all the federal government buildings, and not just in one place. That is something we must absolutely keep in mind.
We have supported this bill and we will support it now, because it is a necessary piece of legislation. Clearly, we would have liked it to go a little further. We would have liked it to be less permissive with regard to the minister’s discretion, and we would have liked to see the minister require a little more of the people who will have to implement the bill.
We proposed some sixty amendments, but only three opposition amendments were agreed to. I hope that further improvements will be made to this bill in the future. As I see it, there are still about 57 good ideas that are not reflected in this bill.
I think this shows that there is still work to do. Whatever party forms the next government, it will still have work to do. Everyone knows I cannot give a speech without saying that I hope my whole team and I will be part of the next government. It is hard to deliver a 20-minute speech without being partisan. The members opposite know me.
The Senate adopted 11 amendments to Bill C-81, and those amendments improved the bill tremendously. I think it is a step in the right direction. Thanks to the Senate amendments, American Sign Language, Quebec Sign Language and indigenous sign languages will be recognized as the primary languages for communication used by deaf people in Canada. That is in line with stakeholders' recommendations and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the Harper government ratified in 2010.
Even with the amendments, the bill uses permissive language, as I already mentioned. If possible, I hope that the ministers who will be implementing the bill will change “may” to “must”. If they make this personal, they will be able to do it. The bill says that they may do it, and I hope that they will.
As I was saying, these new standards will apply only to regulated individuals and entities, but it would be worthwhile to expand this and to use this bill as a model to help make life better for everyone.
In conclusion, I want to read a few excerpts from an open letter on the need to swiftly pass the Senate amendments, which was signed by a number of organizations. This open letter congratulates the minister but it highlights a comment made by Senator Chantal Petitclerc, which I really liked. She said that the committee's amendments reflect the maxim of disability communities: “Nothing about us without us”. This must absolutely guide our decisions.
This is what should guide ministers, agency directors and anyone who is called upon to participate in the development of these accessibility plans and all related measures.
Some very good ideas might come from people like us who do not have disabilities, but although we sometimes think we have the solution, that is often not the case. People with disabilities are able to tell us what the solution should be and how we can help them. That might cost a lot less than implementing our own solutions. I have seen this in the past. These individuals do not want the hottest Cadillac or the ultimate in accommodation. They want to live their lives and thrive like the rest of us, and the best way to help them is to work with them.
Many organizations want this legislation to be implemented quickly. I will name them, because they deserve to be recognized for the work they have done throughout the long process of getting Bill C-81 passed.
They are the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, AODA Alliance, ARCH Disability Law Centre, Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, Citizens With Disabilities-Ontario, Ontario Autism Coalition, Spinal Cord Injury Canada, StopGap Foundation, Travel For All, Older Women's Network; Physicians of Ontario Neurodevelopment Advocacy; Barrier-Free Canada; B.C. Coalition of People who use Guide Dogs, the Keremeos Measuring Up team, National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs in Canada, The Project Group Consulting Cooperative, VIEWS Ontario For the Vision Impaired, Communication Disabilities Access Canada, British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, DeafBlind Ontario Services, March of Dimes Canada, North Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre, Peterborough Council For Persons With Disabilities, Québec Accessible, CNIB Foundation for Ontario and Quebec, Electromagnetic Pollution Illnesses Canada Foundation, Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy, and the Rick Hansen Foundation.
That is just a small number of people, but they worked hard to encourage us to change our habits and ways of doing things. Having once been a member of one of these organizations, I know that we still have a lot of work to do. These organizations work so hard.
First, they work with their clients. Second, they try to persuade the government to change things. Third, they raise funds, because they do not have big operating budgets. Lastly, they improve the lives of many people living with the disabilities that have been mentioned.
In closing, I would like to thank everyone who was involved in introducing Bill C-81. I want to remind the government that 57 amendments could have been adopted to improve the bill, but all the same, the bill is a step in the right direction.
I thank all my colleagues who worked on the committee and did their utmost to speak for those who could not be there. It is our role, as members, to be a voice for the voiceless and to make sure they get a chance to speak when and where they want to.
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