First Disability Strategy in Election 2006 on the Right Track

January 6, 2006 - Today the Liberal Party of Canada became the first party to release a vision for Canadians with disabilities in the 2006 election campaign. Prime Minister Paul Martin announced the Liberal Party commitment to an inclusive and accessible Canada including the development of a 10-year agenda with a focus on disability supports. Canadians with disabilities, their families and the disability community applaud the strength of this commitment to overcome core issues faced by persons with disabilities, including poverty and exclusion from Canadian society.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and other national disability organizations welcome and support the first disability-specific announcement in this campaign.

Marie White, CCD Chairperson stated: "We have been calling on all parties to let Canadians know where they stand on disability issues and to identify their plans to advance and promote the full citizenship and inclusion of persons with disabilities. We got our first response on Friday."

The Liberal Party announcement of $500 million in new supports to foster the full inclusion of Canadians with disabilities moves in the right direction and is more substantive than past disability election announcements. It includes some very positive elements:

  • a commitment to develop and implement a 10 year national plan, with a focus on supports and access to technology to ensure equality of opportunity and increased income and economic security
  • increases to the Disability Tax Credit, the Child Disability Benefit and the Refundable Medical Expense Supplement
  • $150 million for employability assistance programs under Multi Lateral Framework Agreements for Persons with Disabilities
  • $100 million to help families plan for the future of their children with disabilities through the development of a Registered Disability Savings Plan.

Zuhy Sayeed, CACL President said: "We have been calling for a new national approach. We need a comprehensive strategy to confront the poverty of persons with disabilities and the systems of support that are both inadequate and inappropriate. This type of strategy represents an opportunity for the transformational change."

The disability community also supports a distinct disability strategy separate from the caregiver or seniors' agendas. Disability initiatives must build and support the autonomy and independence of persons with disabilities not make them more reliant on their families.

The disability community is hopeful that this announcement will begin a cross-party dialogue on the need for action on disability issues.


For more media inquiries contact: Michael Bach, CACL Executive Vice President - 416-209-7942 or
Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator - 204-981-6179/204-467-5926

Background Information on Disability

The disability community has been calling for a long-term strategy to address the exclusion and poverty faced by persons with disabilities and their families and continues to identify disability supports as the number one priority for immediate investment.

In the last 25 years there have been many significant milestones on the path toward full citizenship and inclusion for persons with disabilities and their families. However, despite these improvements, current measures to address the continued exclusion and poverty of Canadians with disabilities are narrow in scope and remain inadequate. The investments have not realized the promise of full citizenship and inclusion and are demonstrated in these numbers:

  • 56.5% of persons with disabilities are currently unemployed or out of the labour market;
  • Persons with disabilities face levels of poverty almost twice that of persons without disabilities;
  • Two-thirds of Canadian adults with disabilities lack one or more of the educational, workplace, aids, home modification or other supports they need;
  • Slightly more than half of Canadian children with disabilities do not have access to needed aids and devices.

There is broad support to deal with disability supports as the immediate issue. Properly executed, a new approach to disability supports is the lever for transformational change that will enable citizens with disabilities to get an education, jobs and participate in their communities.

Canadians with disabilities, their families and the disability community have a vision. It is of a Canada where Canadians with disabilities, across the lifespan, have the disability-related supports they require to fully access Canada and benefit equally from all it has to offer. It is a Canada where people with disabilities have the income, aids and devices, personal supports, medications and environmental accommodations that make social, economic, cultural, and political citizenship accessible to all. A Canada where people with disabilities benefit from Canadian society in ways that are equal to other Canadians.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is a national advocacy association of persons with disabilities whose mandate is to monitor federal legislation, policy and programs as they affect persons with disabilities. CCD has over 30 years experience in promoting the equality and full citizenship of persons with disabilities. CCD is an umbrella association of provincial and national consumer controlled advocacy associations of persons with disabilities. CCD represents several hundred thousand individuals with disabilities and is cross disability in nature meaning our membership is open to anyone who identifies as a person with disability.

The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) is a Canada-wide federation of 13 provincial and territorial associations that work to advance the human rights and full inclusion of people of all ages with an intellectual disability and their families. Founded in 1958 by parents of children with intellectual disabilities who wanted supports and services within the community instead of in institutions, CACL has become one of Canada's ten largest charitable organizations, and has grown into a federation of 10 provincial and three territorial associations comprising of 420 local associations and over 40,000 members.