CCD Election Challenge: Volume 1, Issue 1

An Accessible & Inclusive Canada

It's here: Election 2008!

CCD is challenging consumers to campaign as hard as the candidates seeking election.

Our platform is the National Action Plan, developed through our collaborative venture: End Exclusion.

The main planks of our Action Plan are as follows:

  • New initiatives to alleviate poverty.
  • Labour market initiatives.
  • New initiatives to promote access, inclusion and full citizenship.
  • New investments in disability-related supports.
  • The National Action Plan defines what needs to happen to create an accessible and inclusive Canada.
  • During this election, we are calling for candidates to endorse our National Action Plan.

For the National Action Plan on Disability visit:

Social Policy Is Homeless

"Looking at the recent agenda of the Federal Government, you realize social policy is homeless," states Marie White, CCD Chair.

For Canadians with disabilities, this is bad news. Canada is a rich country. While others are benefiting, it is hard to point to recent substantive initiatives that address the disadvantage of disabled Canadians. Social policy cannot remain homeless. Social policy must have a central role in the Federal Government so that all can experience the benefits of equal citizenship. CCD urges voters to review Parties' social policy platforms

Each Federal Election, CCD and its members educate candidates about needed disability policy reform.

Making your voice heard

We are looking for a Canada where inclusion is a fact of life. Vision is not enoughÑaction is required.

Take the disability community's message to town hall meetings where candidates are debating the issues.

Share our message with candidates.

Visit Elections Canada on-line to find your electoral district.

Monitor CBC's election coverage and submit a disability-related question to CBC for the Leaders Debate.

Monitor access issues during the campaign. Inform Elections Canada and Party Headquarters if access is not provided. If remedies are not implemented, file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

What piece of the National Action Plan will you take to local candidates?

Alleviating Poverty

At End Exclusion 2007, Heather Tracey, a leader in the People First movement, spoke about the difficulties of living on social assistance. "I am on permanent disability, living on about $750 a month. I like to bowl but it's something I can't afford. It's really hard to do activities that I want to do because I can't afford them."

Barriers in Canadian society mean that many people with disabilities must resort to social assistance. Canadians with disabilities are almost twice as likely as other Canadians to live in poverty. Social assistance is a dead end program for many people with disabilities.

In the National Action Plan on Disability, we set out short and long-term strategies for addressing the poverty experienced by Canadians with disabilities. Share these ideas with candidates!

Our plan for alleviating povertyÑhow will the parties respond?

We are seeking candidates' commitment to address the poverty of Canadians with disabilities.

First steps could include:

  • Making the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) Refundable.
  • Making those eligible for Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPPD) benefits automatically eligible for the DTC.
  • Making CPPD non-taxable.
  • Expanding Employment Insurance Sick Benefits to 52 weeks.
  • Ensuring new federal benefits such as the Registered Disability Savings Plan are not clawed back by provinces and territories from those on social assistance.

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 re-investment in supports and services.

New support to increase labour market participation

Parties and candidates must agree to address the unemployment of people with disabilities.

We want:

The Federal Government to be a model employer of persons with disabilities.

Participation goals for Canadians with disabilities must be set in labour market agreements with the provinces and territories. Federal funds should not be transferred unless these goals are established.

Current Federal labour market programs for persons with disabilities must be expanded to ensure better training and supports for persons with disabilities.

Canadians with disabilities want jobs!

New initiatives to promote access, inclusion, full citizenship

We want new investments for access and inclusion.

Some starting points:

Access regulations for federally regulated transport.

Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Establish an accessible technology Procurement Policy for Canada.

Renew and expand the Social Development Partnerships Disability Program.

Fund the Court Challenges Program for equality rights test case litigation.

Amend the National Building Code to include Universal Design principles.

Universal design principles guide all Infrastructure initiatives.

Accessible electoral process, ensuring persons with disabilities can participate fully in election campaigns and vote independently and secretly.

Amend the Official Languages Act recognizing ASL/LSQ as official languages.

Re-establish a Parliamentary Committee on disability issues.

Investment in disability-related supports

Investment in disability supports is our community priority. Central to this is a commitment to deinstitutionalization and removing the stigma attached to disability.

We want Parties and candidates to agree to invest in disability-related supports.

Some ways to do this are:

  • Work with provinces and territories to provide support for the building of safe, affordable, accessible and supportive housing.
  • Acknowledge that residential institutions have no place in the lives of people with disabilities and support provinces and territories to close institutions.
  • Work with Bands on access to disability-related supports on reserves for First Nations people with disabilities.

The Reality of Poverty, Exclusion and Isolation

14.3 % of Canadians have a disability and too many of them live in poverty.

1/3rd of First Nations/Aboriginal persons with disabilities live in poverty.

Over 2 million Canadian adults with disabilities lack one or more of the educational, workplace, aids, home modification or other supports they need to particiapte fully in their communities.

Over 56% of working age adults are unemployed or out of the workforce. For women with disabilities, the rate is almost 60%.

More than 10,000 persons with intellectual disabilities remain warehoused in institutions, including group homes and congregate care facilities, across this country.

Slighty more than half of Canadian children with disabilities who need aids and devices need more than what they receive.

Rates of violence and abuse against people with disabilities, in particualr women with disabilities, are among the highest for any group in Canadian society.

An accessible and inclusive Canada is a Canada where:

Canadians with disabilities have the necessary support to fully access and benefit from all Canada has to offer.

Independent Living principles of choice, consumer control and autonomy are made real.

Canadians with disabilities have safe, adequate, accessible housing in their community and live free from residential confinement.

Canadians with disabilities have the income, aids, devices, personal supports, medications and environmental accommodations that make social, economic, cultural, and political citizenship accessible and inclusive to all.

Women with disabilities, Aboriginal People with disabilities, persons with disabilities from visible minority communities and those from other marginalized communities are equally able to access all aspects of, and benefit from, Canadian society.

Canadians with invisible disabilities, chronic illness, episodic disabilities or environmental sensitivities are equally able to access, and benefit from, Canadian society. The result is that people with disabilities are able to contribute to, and benefit from, Canadian society in the same way as other Canadians. This is our Canada.