CCD Perspective on Canada At 150

22 March 2010

An Open Letter to the Federal Liberal Caucus
Council of Canadians with Disabilities

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) commends the Liberal Party of Canada for addressing the challenges that will be facing the nation in 2017 and beyond. CCD, a national human rights organization of men and women with disabilities, works in support of an accessible and inclusive Canada. In this open letter, CCD provides you with a disability rights perspective on some of the questions you will be addressing at your policy conference. CCD encourages you to be inclusive of the concerns of people with disabilities when formulating your new policy framework.

Real Issues for Canadian Families: How Do We Care

The Liberal Party has asked: What role should the federal government play in social policy?

CCD RESPONDS: Lead in 4 key areas to achieve an inclusive and accessible Canada: disability supports, poverty alleviation, employment, social development.

More on social policy from CCD:

To achieve an inclusive and accessible Canada, the federal government must show leadership by enhancing their role in four key areas:

  • Disability supports, including a National Medication Strategy, to enable Independent Living, active citizenship and full participation;
  • Poverty alleviation for persons with disabilities thus freeing up dollars at provincial/territorial levels for new investments in disability supports;
  • Labor force inclusion measures;
  • A national social development role to promote accessibility and community inclusion.

The Government of Canada must commit to addressing poverty and reforming Canada's income support programs for Canadians with disabilities.

First steps could include:

  • Making the Disability Tax Credit Refundable for those with a nontaxable income.
  • Making those eligible for Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits automatically eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.
  • Making Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits nontaxable.
  • Expanding Employment Insurance Sick Benefits to 52 weeks.

Long-term reforms could include:

  • An expanded federal role in income support for Canadians with disabilities thus freeing up resources at provincial and territorial levels for reinvestment in supports and services. The Government of Canada has lifted many seniors out of poverty, and has begun to address child poverty. Now is the time to address the poverty of disabled Canadians.

Jobs Today and Tomorrow: the Productive Society of 2017

The Liberal Party has asked: What is the role of the federal government in building a highly skilled workforce that is ready to meet the challenges of diversity, demographics and community?

CCD Responds: Enhance Labor Market Attachment for People with Disabilities

More on jobs from CCD:

The federal government must continue to increase access to training, education, accommodation and labor market attachment for people with disabilities. CCD supports a two-track strategy:

  1. Establish specific targets for Canadians with disabilities in Labor Market Development Agreements (LMDA) negotiated with the provinces. Having a specific target for Canadians with disabilities should be a requirement of transfer of both EI and Consolidated Revenue Funds to the provinces/territories.
  2. Transforming provincial/territorial labor market systems to address barriers to people with disabilities will take some time. In the meantime both the Multilateral Framework Agreement on Labor Force Participation of People with Disabilities and the Opportunities Fund should be expanded to ensure greater capacity at the provincial/territorial level to address barriers and through the Opportunities Fund to demonstrate innovation in labor force inclusion. These funds must not be rolled into the LMDAs or new labor market transfers to the provinces and territories until it is demonstrated that LMDA's are capable of addressing disability in a substantive way; and that the lessons, incentives and strategies are being incorporated into these generic systems from those developed through the Multi-Lateral and Opportunities Fund programming.

Energy, Environment and Economy in 2017: Growth and Responsibility

The Liberal Party of Canada has asked: How do we ensure that Canada has access to the skilled labor required for this future economy?

CCD Responds: New Investments in Disability-related Supports

More on accessing skilled labor from CCD:

For CCD, growth and responsibility means active measures that will include people with disabilities in Canada's economy. To achieve this, the federal government needs to properly execute new appropriately targeted investments in disability-related supports that would assist Canadians with disabilities to participate in early learning and childcare, become educated and employed, live more independently, and look after their families. Such an investment is the priority of the disability community.

The federal government must:

  • Work with provinces and territories to explore ways of increasing access to and improving the range of available disability supports.
  • Work with Band Councils to ensure equal access to disability-related supports for First Nations people with disabilities living on reserve.

The Creative and Competitive Economy of 2017

Liberal Party of Canada has asked: How will we communicate? How will we interact? How do we drive Canadian leadership in new media? How do we improve our immigration systems?

CCD responds: Regulate for access to ensure that people with disabilities can communicate.

More on communication from CCD:

People with disabilities must be included in the creative economy. Canada must not allow a digital divide to occur in Canada. Without access regulations, Canadians with disabilities will find themselves on the losing side of the digital divide.

Under the CRTC, establish accessibility regulations for all new media to ensure that people with disabilities can use new information and communication technology.

Establish a Procurement Policy for the Government of Canada that would ensure purchase only of accessible technology, thus increasing employment opportunities within the public service and accessible service to the Canadian public.

Establish an Accessibility Design Centre that would act as a cross-departmental focal point of responsibility to harmonize, track and deliver results in all areas of barrier removal, including new media. It would become a centre of excellence in universal design and become a resource to governments, community and the private sector.

CCD Responds on Immigration: Eliminate practices that discriminate against people with disabilities seeking to immigrate to Canada.

More on Immigration from CCD:

The government of Canada must overhaul Canada's immigration policy to eliminate discriminatory practices. Canada excludes people with disabilities deemed to be "medically inadmissible," meaning they may place a burden on Canadian health and social services. This approach to immigrants with disabilities is based upon a negative and outdated understanding of disability that fails to recognize the contribution that people with disabilities make.


Marie White
CCD Chairperson