Policy Reform Options for Community Organizations to Consider

Policy Reform options for community organizations to consider

Presentation to a public forum
Ottawa, December 2, 2014

Focus of policy reform options

  • Poverty and exclusion of Canadians with disabilities
  • Role of income security programs and tax measures
  • Legal protections, human rights and court decisions
  • Relations between governments, and between governments and societal organizations
  • Public participation and engagement in policy development

Purposes of policy reform options

  • To provide Canadians with disabilities, their families and community organizations with the resources, means and opportunities, and choices to acquire and maintain economic self-sufficiency
  • To facilitate integration and participation in society on an equal basis with others
  • To raise awareness of these issues, to encourage discussions on policy reform ideas that lead to new approaches to disabling poverty and enabling citizenship

Principles of reform options

  • Promoting savings and personal assets
  • Facilitating employment in inclusive settings
  • Advancing reasonable accommodation and equality rights
  • Moving to more adequate living standards
  • Public participation in policy development

Promoting savings and personal assets

  • Federal government should enhance the Registered Disability Savings Plan
  • Introduce Trust Fund and Support Fund legislation in provinces
  • Increase the liquid and fixed asset test limits in provincial social assistance programs
  • Improve the earnings exemptions under provincial social assistance programs

Facilitating employment in inclusive settings

  • Expand the Working Income Tax Benefit including the Disability Supplement
  • Introduce accessibility and inclusion legislation at the federal level and in provinces where such legislation does not currently exist
  • Augment supports in social assistance and related programs for transitions to employment

Advancing accommodation and equality rights

  • Reinstate the Court Challenges Program
  • Establish a national action and implementation plan for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, naming the Canadian Human Rights Commission as the monitoring body at the federal level, and ratify the Optional Protocol of this Convention
  • Establish accessibility legislation at the federal level and relevant provinces and territories

Moving to adequate living standards

  • In the short term, convert the Disability Tax Credit to a refundable benefit
  • Extend the duration of Employment Insurance sickness benefits from 15 to 50 weeks
  • In the medium term, expand the Canada Disability Child Benefit in amount and to those age 19 to 30
  • In the long term, a basic income or disability pension for Canadian with severe disabilities with little or no employment history

Participating in policy development

  • Establish a ministerial process (e.g., task force or expert panel) and/or parliamentary committee to review and improve the design and administration of the Registered Disability Savings Plan
  • Create a permanent joint federal/provincial/territorial government and disability community advisory group to develop a new shared vision statement and action plan on accessibility and inclusion. This joint committee would also monitor annual progress and report to ministers and through them to all legislatures
  • Reinstating the Court Challenges Program will restore a valuable place for community action on key constitutional questions of equality rights

Next steps

  • Continue the conversation on these and other policy reform ideas in your community organizations
  • Share the ideas with other poverty groups and social movement organizations
  • Network with people in other sectors such as employers, labour, and political parties

Thank you

Michael J. Prince
Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy
University of Victoria

For more information on these and other policy reform options see www.ccdonline.ca.