Trudeau Government Headed in the Right Direction With Budget 2016
Media Release March 23, 2016 - For Immediate Release -
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities commends the Liberal Government for fulfilling its election promise to renew the Court Challenges Program (CCP). “During the campaign, CCD challenged the leaders of all parties to restore funding to the CCP, which had been de-funded by the previous government, and today, the Government has delivered, committing $12 million in new funding over five years for the CCP,” states Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson. CCD, a national organization of people with disabilities working for an accessible and inclusive Canada, accessed CCP funding to ensure VIA Rail did not create new barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities by putting inaccessible passenger rail cars into service.
Another Liberal election promise was legislation to eliminate barriers and promote the equality of persons with disabilities and the budget committed $2 million over two years to consult provinces, territories, municipalities and stakeholders about a Canadians with Disabilities Act. “CCD welcomes the inclusion of provinces, territories, and municipalities, as well as persons with disabilities and our organizations, in the consultation plans, because all levels of government have a role to pay in barrier removal,” states John Rae, Second Vice Chair. “We view a national disability act as an opportunity to achieve domestic implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” continued Rae.
“Of course, there were some disappointments,” admitted Dolan. “We had hoped that the new Government would announce some bold measures to alleviate disability poverty.” Through our research project, Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, we learned that:
• Throughout the working years (15-64 years of age) people with disabilities remain about twice as likely as those without disabilities to live with low income. People with disabilities are much less likely than people without to have jobs. Even where employed, people with disabilities are 1.5 times more likely than people without to live with low income.
• Among working-age women with disabilities who live in low income households, half (49.5%) received social assistance in the past 12 months compared with fewer than one in ten (8.6%) whose household income was above the LICO [Low-Income Cut-Off].
Due to the fact that they experience multiple forms of discrimination, women and girls with disabilities face increased social and economic vulnerability.
Admittedly, the Child Disability Tax Benefit was increased and there was additional investment in a youth employment strategy, which mentioned youth with disability, but these measures are not focused on improving the situation of impoverished women and men living with disability. As a first step toward addressing disability poverty, CCD has called for the conversion of the existing Disability Tax Credit (DTC) to a refundable credit. This would put an extra $2,000 per year in the pockets of eligible Canadians with disabilities. A refundable DTC would provide people with disabilities living on very low incomes additional funds that they could put toward the extra costs associated with disability, such as purchasing modified clothing, replacing technical aids that wear out. Throughout the life of this government, CCD will be advancing measures, such as the refundable DTC, designed to improve the social and economic conditions of people with disabilities, particularly women and girls with disabilities and others facing multiple forms of discrimination.
For more information contact: Tony Dolan, 902-569-2817 John Rae, 416-941-1547 2016
Child Disability Benefit
"To recognize the additional costs of caring for a child with a severe disability, Budget 2016 proposes to continue to provide the Child Disability Benefit, an additional amount of up to $2,730 per child eligible for the Disability Tax Credit." (Page 59, Chapter 1) More details on phase-out thresholds and rates for the Canada Child Benefit and the Child Disability Benefit can be found in the accompanying document Tax Measures: Supplementary Information. Marion and Jacques have one child aged 4 who is eligible for the Child Disability Benefit. Marion earned $40,000 and Jacques earned $20,000 in 2015. Marion and Jacques would have received $5,129 under the current system (for the July 2016 to June 2017 benefit year). Instead, they will receive $7,030 in tax-free Canada Child Benefit payments—a net after-tax increase of $1,901. These additional child benefits include: • An increase of $1,607 from the introduction of the Canada Child Benefit; and • An increase of $294 from the change to the Child Disability Benefit. Note: The benefits received by families in these examples are illustrative. The amount that a family would receive under the current system takes account of federal and provincial/territorial taxes on the Universal Child Care Benefit, and thus would depend on the family's province or territory of residence. It is assumed that these parents do not report any other types of income (other than the Universal Child Care Benefit in 2015, which is not taken into account in adjusted family net income), and that they do not claim any deductions."
HELPING YOUTH OBTAIN VALUABLE WORK EXPERIENCE A RENEWED YOUTH EMPLOYMENT STRATEGY
"Each year the Government invests more than $330 million in the Youth Employment Strategy to help young people gain the skills, abilities and work experience they need to find and maintain good employment. To expand employment opportunities for young Canadians, Budget 2016 proposes to invest an additional $165.4 million in the Youth Employment Strategy in 2016–17. Funding will be used to: • create new green jobs for youth, to help young Canadians gain valuable work experience, learn about our natural environment and contribute to economic growth in environmental sectors; • increase the number of youth who access the Skills Link program, which helps young Canadians—including Indigenous and disabled youth—make a more successful transition to the workforce; and • increase job opportunities for young Canadians in the heritage sector, under the Young Canada Works program. This funding would be in addition to the $339 million already announced for the Canada Summer Jobs program, to be delivered over three years, starting in 2016–17."
IMPROVING COMMUNITY ACCESSIBILITY
"It is important that Canadians with disabilities have the ability to fully participate in their communities. Budget 2016 proposes to provide an additional $4 million over two years, starting in 2016–17 for the Enabling Accessibility Fund to support the capital costs of construction and renovation related to improving physical accessibility and safety for people with disabilities in Canadian communities." (Page 102) Chapter 5
AN INCLUSIVE AND FAIR CANADA INTRODUCTION
"To eliminate systemic barriers and deliver equality of opportunity to all Canadians living with disabilities, the Government will consult with provinces, territories, municipalities and stakeholders to introduce a Canadians with Disabilities Act. This budget allocates $2 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, to support the full participation of Canadians with disabilities in this process." (Page 170)
FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR VETERANS
"Increasing the Disability Award (maximum increased to $360,000 in 2017) for injuries or illnesses caused or worsened by military service, and aligning it with other New Veterans Charter benefits by indexing it to inflation. Higher Awards would be paid retroactively to all veterans who have received an Award since the introduction of the New Veterans Charter in 2006." (Page 175) Expanding access to higher grades of the Permanent Impairment Allowance to better support veterans who have had their career options limited by a service-related illness or injury. The potential impact of the permanent and severe impairments on veterans’ career advancement opportunities would be considered in determining the appropriate level of financial support. The benefit would also be renamed Career Impact Allowance to better reflect the intent of the program. Increasing the Earnings Loss Benefit to provide income replacement of 90 per cent of gross pre-release military salary for injured veterans participating in Veterans Affairs Canada’s rehabilitation or vocational assistance program or with injuries preventing them from suitable and gainful employment. The indexation of this benefit would also no longer be capped at 2 per cent and would be allowed to keep pace with inflation. Finally, the calculation of the minimum benefit would be amended to be based on a senior private’s salary instead of a basic corporal’s salary. These measures represent a significant investment that would greatly improve income support to disabled veterans, including both veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce as well as those with injuries preventing them from suitable and gainful employment. In particular, these measures would ensure that disabled veterans who are unable to return to the workforce because of their injuries receive higher lifelong financial support. In consultation with the veterans’ community, the Government also understands there is a significant desire to better design veterans’ financial support programs going forward—and that the Government should take the appropriate time to work with veterans to ensure programs meet the needs of those injured in the line of duty. Over the next year, the Government will work with the veterans’ community to examine the best way to streamline and simplify the system of financial support programs currently offered by Veterans Affairs Canada and National Defence for veterans and their families. The overall objective of this work will be to ensure that the Government delivers programs and services in a way that is veterans-centric and facilitates a seamless and successful transition from military to civilian life."
IMPROVING IMMUNIZATION COVERAGE RATES
"Vaccine preventable diseases are still present in some areas of Canada and can lead to serious disability and even death. To help ensure the ongoing health and safety of Canadians, particularly children and those who are immunocompromised, such as the elderly, high levels of immunization coverage among Canadians is required. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $25 million over five years, starting in 2016–17. With this funding, the Public Health Agency of Canada will update the national immunization coverage goals and disease reduction targets, improve Canada’s ability to identify under and un-immunized Canadians, and develop a focused program to improve vaccine access and uptake." (Page 181)
REINSTATING THE COURT CHALLENGES PROGRAM OF CANADA
The Government is committed to safeguarding Canada’s official languages and equality rights, including protecting the rights of women and minorities. The Court Challenges Program provides financial assistance for individuals and groups who wish to clarify their language and equality rights in Canada’s courts. This program has been instrumental in bringing cases to the courts that clarify and assert Charter rights. Budget 2016 proposes to provide new funding of $12 million over five years to support the Court Challenges Program of Canada. When combined with existing federal investments, total funding will be $5 million annually." (p. 182)
BARGAINING IN GOOD FAITH WITH FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UNIONS
"Demonstrating its commitment to fully respect the collective bargaining process, the Government has already introduced new legislation to repeal the legislative provisions that provide it with the power to make unilateral changes to the disability and sick leave system. It also reversed the previous Government’s decision to book savings in respect of changes to the public service disability and sick leave system in advance of the completion of negotiations. The Government will also consult on changes to the Public Service Labour Relations Act introduced through the 2013 Budget Implementation Act." (Page 213)
Fiscal and Other Sources "A financial source is projected for pensions and other accounts for 2015–16 to 2019–20. Pensions and other accounts include the activities of the Government of Canada’s employee pension plans and those of federally appointed judges and Members of Parliament, as well as a variety of other employee future benefit plans, such as health care and dental plans and disability and other benefits for war veterans and others. The financial source for pensions and other accounts largely reflects adjustments for pension and benefit expenses not funded in the period." (page 246)
Helping Canadians Receive the Tax Benefits They Deserve
The focus on improved client service will allow the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to proactively contact individuals who are entitled to, but are not receiving, tax benefits. In particular this initiative will help lower-income earners complete and file their tax returns. These actions will benefit lower-income earners including seniors, Indigenous people, and people with disabilities. (Page 207) "Budget 2016 proposes an ongoing investment of about $4.0 million per year, beginning in 2016–17, to allow the CRA to extend coverage of the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program and reach out to a larger number of vulnerable and low-income Canadians, including seniors, newcomers (targeting Syrian refugees), persons with disabilities, and Indigenous people." (Page 207)
For more information:
Council of Canadians With Disabilities/Conseil des Canadiens des déficiences (CCD), 909-294 Portage Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, R3C0B9, tel: 204-0303, TTY/ATS: 204-943-4752