Pre Budget Consultation with Minister Flaherty

January 6, 2009 | Montreal
Submission from Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Marie White, CCD National Chairperson

Protect The Vulnerable

In these challenging times, CCD urges you and your colleagues to ensure that those who already face significant disadvantage are not forgotten. Canadians with disabilities struggle when times are good to have their needs met and when times are bad sadly we are often the first to feel the effects of cutbacks or loss of employment. Last hired and first laid off has regrettably been the experience of far too many within our community.

Support the Non-Profit Sector

Equally true is the fact that the voluntary sector will be called upon during an economic downturn to support and create community services that assist those who have lost jobs or find themselves less able to cope. Canada’s voluntary sector provides everything from food banks, counseling, training, individual supports and shelter. Canada’s voluntary sector is critical in maintaining and supporting the social safety net of this country. During hard times volunteers and their associations play a critical role in addressing the difficulties encountered by many. The Government of Canada must enable volunteers and voluntary associations to continue to make the strong and effective contributions only they can provide.

Priorities of Canadians with Disabilities

The broad priorities of Canadians with disabilities include:

  • new investments in disability related-supports
  • initiatives to alleviate poverty
  • initiatives to create employment
  • investments to create greater accessibility and build a more inclusive Canada.

Specific Recommendations

CCD is well aware that federal jurisdiction has its limitations and that responsibility for many issues rests with the provinces and territories. First, we would urge the Government of Canada to work collaboratively with the provinces and territories. At the same time we urge you to consider the following recommendations as you develop a budget to help Canadians with and without disabilities deal with the economic downturn and the long-standing barriers to our full participation in Canadian society. We recommend that;
1. In all infrastructure investments a commitment to full accessibility be made and enforced. The Enabling Accessibility Fund created in Budget 2007 is making a difference in access for persons with disabilities across this country. New infrastructure initiatives across this country could make a significant long term contribution by removing barriers to transportation systems, new communication/information technologies, parks, and community spaces. Additionally a national initiative worthy of consideration would be the creation of a Universal Design Institute that could share best practices in creating access across the country with employers, governments and civil society.
2. New initiatives to train people for new industries include a targeted representation and allocation for persons with disabilities. Labour Market Agreements negotiated with provinces should include specific allocations and targets for persons with disabilities.
3. The lowest income tax rate be reduced.
4. The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) be made refundable for low income Canadians.
5. The Opportunities Fund and the Multi-Lateral Framework Agreement for the Employment of Persons with Disabilities be extended for three years. Minister Finley is extending the Social Development Partnership Program for three years. CCD applauds this initiative and asks for similar treatment for the other two programs.
6. The contribution deadline for the Registered Disability Savings Plan for the 2008 tax year be extended until June of 2009. Financial institutions have just begun offering the RDSP in late December. Few will be able to take advantage of this new benefit unless the deadline is extended.
7. The Government of Canada increase the labour market participation of persons with disabilities in the civil service by 1% over the next two years.
8. The allowance for the Child Disability Tax Benefit be increased.
9. The Working Income Tax Benefit for Persons with Disabilities be expanded.
Together we can create a more Inclusive and Accessible Canada. CCD appreciates your past support and urges you to once again ensure that those who may be least able to weather an economic downturn are not forgotten. Canadians with disabilities have always looked to the federal government to provide leadership on disability issues and we continue to do so.
Thank you,
Marie White, National Chairperson
Council of Canadians with Disabilities