Submission by Council of Canadians with Disabilities to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

14 November 2022

Opening Statement:
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is pleased to have the opportunity to share its views with the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA), regarding Bill C-22 and the establishment of the Canada Disability Benefit. A new national income supplement benefit for working age persons with disabilities is a key component of an accessible and inclusive Canada.

The CCD recognizes that for disabled people to live with dignity, autonomy and independence they must not live in poverty. With this in mind, we strongly support Bill C-22 and the Canada Disability Benefit, and enjoin HUMA to work to make this benefit available to working-aged disabled Canadians as soon as possible.

Who we are:

CCD is a social justice organization of people with all disabilities that champions the voices of people with disabilities, advocating an inclusive and accessible Canada, where people with disabilities have full realization of their human rights, as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

CCD's members are provincial/territorial cross-disability, consumer-controlled, human rights organizations and national uni-disability and cross-disability, consumer-controlled, human rights organizations and six individual members at large ensuring an intersectional council.

Our focus is on democratic engagement opportunities:

In this submission, CCD wishes to focus on two aspects of the legislation both of which concern opportunities for democratic engagement in the development and implementation of this new disability benefit.

First, the bill declares that “in the spirit of “Nothing Without Us”, the Government of Canada recognizes the importance, in developing support measures for persons with disabilities, of engaging with the disability community, in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act, which specifies that “persons with disabilities must be involved in the development and design of laws, policies, programs, services and structures.”

Highly relevant to this is that the bill authorizes the Governor in Council to implement most of the benefit’s design elements through regulations.

Second, the bill observes that “Parliament recognizes the leading role that the provinces and territories play in providing supports and services to persons with disabilities and the importance of engaging with them in developing income supports and other support services.”

To that end, section 8 of the bill enables the Minister to enter into agreements with any department or agency of the Government of Canada and, with approval of the Governor in Council, enter into agreements with any department or agency of a province.

CCD asks that you consider the following recommendations as you consider this legislation.

We recommend that:

1. The Government of Canada provide adequate funding and other supports to disability community organizations to participate in a timely, well-prepared and meaningful manner during the regulatory processes.

These regulatory processes are understood to encompass not only rules and orders but also related instruments such as guidelines, codes, and standards which may not be captured in the Canada Gazette processes. All of these are key features in the modern world of regulation and program administration.

2. In determining these regulations, the Government of Canada create accessible, understandable, and responsive regulations through engagement, transparency, accountability, and public scrutiny.

3. Throughout the Canada Gazette regulatory processes, the Government of Canada will consult, coordinate, and cooperate with organizations and groups across the disability community in Canada.

This pertains to Part I of the Canada Gazette process, a pre-publication stage with consultation draft(s) and a final draft proposal, and Stage II of the Canada Gazette process, the enactment and publication stage.  

4. The Government of Canada -- while working collaboratively with the provinces and territories on a broad range of program interactions between and among federal, provincial, and territorial income assistance, employment and social service, and relevant tax measures – needs to ensure that the voices of people with disabilities are represented and directly involved in such intergovernmental discussions.

The Minister herself has acknowledges that “The success of this benefit and the number of lives it will change will directly correspond to the work being done with provinces and territories on benefit interaction.” This is too crucial to leave people with disabilities outside of these discussions.

In the spirit of “nothing without us” all governments engage and collaborate with the disability community in these processes. 

CCD believes there must be recognition of, and tangible support for the involvement of disability organizations in these deliberations. This calls for creativity in how we govern and tackle issues together and in how the Minister enters into agreements and in what those agreements could contain both in substantive content and procedural terms of community involvement.  

5. The Government of Canada will promote and advance the public interest and the well-being of Canadians, notably including working-age persons with disabilities, as expressed by Parliament in legislation. 

These public interest values include equality, fairness, and inclusion as well as fostering equal access to opportunity and living with dignity.

Other public interest principles are that:

• For people with disabilities who qualify for the CDB, meaningful and inclusive employment is an option to be supported with appropriate measures.
• All governments commit to a progressive improvement in income support and social services to all low-income people with disabilities.
• Combined income support must enhance the human dignity and opportunity of people with disabilities, in particular women and girls with disabilities.
• All governments commit to simplifying the administration and provision of benefits, supports and services, and to share lessons and best practices informed by a gender and diversity lens.

6. The Minister of Disability Inclusion, as the sponsor of Bill C-22, report on a regular basis to Parliament (and/or to this Committee) on how the federal government is engaging and consulting with the disability community in the design of the regulations. 

Canadians with disabilities have always looked to the Parliament of Canada to provide leadership on disability issues and we continue to do so.

Heather Walkus
Council of Canadians with Disabilities

Member organizations of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities
Disability Alliance BC
Voice of Albertans with Disabilities (VAD)
Barrier Free Saskatchewan
Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD)
Citizens with Disabilities — Ontario
Confédération des Organismes de Personnes Handicapées du Québec (COPHAN)
Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (NSLEO)
Coalition of Persons with Disabilities--NFLD and Labrador (COD)
Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtiit Society
NWT Disabilities Council
Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD)
Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)
National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)
National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs of Canada
National Mental Health Inclusion Network (NMHIN)
Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada (TVAC)