Nothing About Us Without Us - Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Looking Forward to Working on Disability Commitments in Throne Speech
September 23, 2020 - For Immediate Release
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) finds that the Liberal Government used a disability lens when developing its national work plan outlined in the September 23rd Throne Speech, including measures to address some of the concerns of people with disabilities.
CCD is pleased to see that the Throne Speech made a commitment to a new Canadian Disability Benefit (CDB), modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for Seniors, a robust employment strategy, and a better process for determining eligibility for Government disability programs and services.
We commend the Government of Canada for having listened to Canadians with disabilities. Before Parliament prorogued, the Government of Canada responded in a very limited way to assist Canadians with disabilities deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a one-time benefit of $600.00 to be distributed in the fall. Canadians with disabilities decried both the low dollar-value of the benefit and how Canadians with disabilities were treated as an afterthought.
The plans outlined in the Throne Speech indicate there will be movement toward improving the living standard of the disability community and complying with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). “We call on the Government of Canada to deliver a CDB that provides an adequate standard of living that recognizes the extra disability costs experienced by members of the disability community,” states Heather Walkus, CCD 1st Vice Chair.
An important principle of the CRPD is Nothing About Us Without Us. Thus, we would have liked to see a commitment to include the meaningful involvement of people with disabilities in the development of the Canadian Disability Benefit, the employment strategy for people with disabilities, and the process for determining eligibility for disability programs and services. People with disabilities must play an integral role in the development of these much needed measures. “We know from our past experiences if we are not at the table there will be negative unintended impacts, due to a lack of awareness of the complexities of how the mix of provincial and federal programs interact with each other,” states Jewelles Smith, CCD Past Chair. “People with disabilities need to be represented on all the decision making tables that will develop the measures announced in the Throne Speech, including the table that will develop the Action Plan for Women in the Economy.”
CCD notes the commitment in the Throne Speech to address systemic racism in a way informed by the experiences of racialized communities and Indigenous people and urges the government to ensure that its response is inclusive of racialized people with disabilities and Indigenous people with disabilities.
“CCD looks forward to working with federal officials to ensure that the changes announced today are rolled out in a manner that is consistent with the standards established in the CRPD,” states Roxana Jahani Aval, CCD Chairperson. “The Throne Speech made a commitment to significantly scale up the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy and CCD welcomes this initiative and reminds the Government to ensure that the Strategy is inclusive of youth with disabilities,” states Roxana Jahani Aval. “As acknowledged in the Throne Speech, young people are one of the groups that have borne the brunt of job loss and it has been particularly difficult for young people with disabilities due to the barriers in the labour market. The voices of young people with disabilities need to inform the enhancement of the Strategy.”
There were some major opportunities missed. While the Throne Speech focused on safe and affordable housing, accessible housing was not addressed. Accessible housing is of critical importance to the disability community. “We hope Government will continue to work so that people with disabilities live in communities and not long term care homes,” states Jewelles Smith, CCD Past Chairperson. “While the Throne Speech addressed strengthening the Official Languages Act, it did not make any commitments concerning ASL and LSQ, the official languages of Deaf Canadians,” states Heather Walkus, 1st Vice Chair.
Roxana Jahani Aval, CCD Chairperson
For more information contact:
Heather Walkus, First Vice Chairperson, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 250-501-1112
Jewelles Smith, Past Chairperson, Email: email@example.com
About the Council of Canadians with Disabilities:
Mission: The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (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 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Mandate: The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) unites advocacy organizations of people with disabilities to defend and extend human rights for persons with disabilities through public education, advocacy, intervention in litigation, research, consultation and partnerships. CCD amplifies the expertise of our partners by acting as a convening body and consensus builder.