Green Party Includes People with Disabilities in Vision Green but NOT the Green Platform

2011 CCD Election Challenge

2011 Green Platform

smart economy. strong communities. true democracy.

7 April 2011

On 7 April 2011, the Green Party of Canada released its 2011 Green Platform, subtitled smart economy. strong communities. true democracy. Following the release of the Liberal Party Platform, which was inclusive of Canadians with disabilities, CCD challenged Canada’s other parties to release platforms which included people with disabilities. Canadians with disabilities are not mentioned specifically in the Green Platform. For disability not to be mentioned in the Platform was disappointing to the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national human rights organization of people with disabilities working for an inclusive and accessible Canada. Another policy document, Vision Green, included people with disabilities. In this edition of the 2011 Election Challenge, CCD, using a disability lens, will summarize the Green Platform and then Vision Green.

The Green Party’s Social Agenda

The Green Party included a social agenda in its 2011 Platform. While there is no direct mention of Canadians with disabilities, the Green Platform makes commitments that would have a positive impact on people with disabilities. Some of these are as follows:

Under the heading “Respect and Support Our Elders”, the Platform promises to “ensure secure pensions and provide programmes that address health—both physical and mental…” As poverty eradication is a CCD priority, measures to strengthen pensions are welcome. We are also elders and pensioners.

Under the heading “Ensure that Citizenship is Equal” the Green Party states, “Social justice and equality are cornerstones of democracy. Canadian democracy is more secure when human rights are respected—starting with the First Nations and indigenous peoples of this continent…” The Platform discusses implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We agree with the Platform’s sentiments on the Declaration. Many First Nations and indigenous persons are also persons with disabilities. However, we are left wondering why, in the section on equal citizenship, the Platform did not also address implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Under the heading “Make Poverty History” the platform addresses the Millennium Development goals. We need to be addressing poverty both at home and abroad. People with disabilities living in Canada face a disproportionate level of poverty. CCD would have liked to have heard from the Green Party of Canada on how it intends to address the poverty of Canadians with disabilities.

In the Budget Overview section, CCD notes that there are references to: reinvestment in national rail systems, youth employment, housing measures, mass transit promotion, early childhood education. If these were to be rolled out in an accessible and inclusive manner, these would be measures of benefit to Canada’s disability community.

Vision Green

Vision Green makes the following commitments to persons with disabilities:

“Green Party MPs will:

  • Work to create a Canada Disabilities Act (CDA) to express Canadians' vision of a more equitable society rather than the current confusion resulting from the multiplicity of acts, standards, policies and programs that prevail.
  • Support a national equipment fund to provide equipment such as wheel chairs and accessibility tools to assist persons with disabilities with the tools needed to fully participate in work and community life. (This can be a joint program with provinces – the concern is equal access and common standards.)
  • Invest in social housing adapted as necessary to meet particular needs, with both rental and purchase options. This is simply an expansion of our housing program recognizing particular needs.
  • Provide federal health transfer payments to provinces and territories directed to rehabilitation for those who have become disabled, e.g. loss of limbs etc.
  • Enforce the Employment Equity Act to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal opportunity to long-term employment and advancement. Disabled people are generally the last to find employment and the first to be laid off.
  • Institute a basic income for people living with disabilities so that none live in poverty by:
  • Converting the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) to a refundable credit as a first step in creating a national Basic Income program for working-age adults with disabilities.
  • Redesigning the Canada Pension Plan/Disability Benefit (CPP/D) test to incorporate the DTC definition of disability and permit employment, rather than the CPP/D definition that requires a ‘severe’ disability to be life-long and to be the cause of any incapacity to pursue ‘any gainful occupation.’ The revised definition allows individuals to work while retaining eligibility for basic income (Page 77).”

CCD’s Approach

CCD eagerly awaits the full election platforms from the Conservatives, the NDP, and the Bloc Québecois. CCD will apply a disability lens to the Platforms of all the major Federal Parties and share its views with its members, the media and the general public.

Be An Informed Voter

CCD encourages all Canadians to become informed about the issues being debated during this election and to vote on Election Day.