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Media Release

For Immediate Release
13 October 2015

Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship – Canada's Federal
Parties Have Their Say
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national organization working
for an inclusive and accessible Canada, sought commitments from Canada's major
political parties on initiatives focused on disabling poverty and enabling
citizenship:

Poverty alleviation (CCD identified a refundable Disability Tax Credit as a first
step.) and increased employment opportunities,

Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
and ratification of its Optional Protocol, and

Accessibility measures (such as a Canadians with Disabilities Act,
enforceable access regulations for transportation and other areas in Federal
jurisdiction, improved palliative care and other services, support for capacity
building for the disability community).

CCD emphasized the need for measures to particularly address the lived
experience of girls and women with disabilities and people with disabilities facing
additional barriers, such as First Nations and Aboriginal people with disabilities and
racialized people with disabilities. Parties were asked to respond by 1 October
2015.
"Every Federal Election since 1978, CCD has shared the Parties' commitments on
our priority issues, so that people with disabilities and their families will be
informed voters," states Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson.
"What CCD heard from the Federal Parties indicates that while all have disability on
their radar screen, some more than others view disability through a human rights
lens and the human rights approach is what holds the most promise for achieving a
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Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship – Canada's Federal Parties Have Their Say
13 October 2015
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Canada that is inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities," states John
Rae, CCD Second Vice Chair. The Green, Liberal and NDP Parties' responses to CCD
were based upon a human rights analysis while the Conservative and Bloc
Quebecois favoured an economic and jurisdictional approach, respectively.

Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship – Canada's Federal Parties Have Their Say
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Poverty Alleviation
This election CCD prioritized obtaining support for a refundable Disability Tax Credit
to provide extra money to off-set the extra costs of disability for people with
disabilities on low incomes. Elizabeth May wrote, "Greens will also convert the
Disability Tax Credit (DTC) to a refundable credit as a first step in creating a GLI
[Guaranteed Livable Income]." The Bloc indicated that it would study making the
DTC refundable.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair promised "a national anti-poverty strategy with
targets and timelines to reduce and eliminate poverty" and a review of existing
income support programs for persons with disabilities "in order to coordinate
benefits and increase accessibility." The NDP also made a commitment to
accessible childcare, which helps parents meet their family and job
responsibilities. Mr. Mulcair promised, "…my plan for affordable childcare, costing
parents no more than $15 a day, will be based on principles of accessibility and
inclusiveness. All children, including those with disabilities, should have the right
to high quality early learning and care." Accessible childcare also benefits parents
with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities as women continue to have
significant responsibilities for children.
The NDP pledged to reform the appeal process for Canada Pension Plan Disability
benefits, promising to make it fairer, more transparent and faster. Mr. Mulcair also
indicated that his Party would "expand EI Sickness Benefits from 15 weeks to 45
weeks, while also making them more flexible."
The Green Party made a commitment to enforcing the Employment Equity Act and
to discussing a work-sharing program for employees with disabilities and to
collaborate with small and medium-sized businesses on the establishment of
employer tax credits to support the full employment of persons with disabilities.
Ms. May stated, "In 2015, no Canadian should be faced with discrimination or lack
of access to employment opportunities or needed support because of their
disability. Canada can and must do better for people with disabilities. I look
forward to working with CCD to advance the human rights of Canadians with
disabilities, and create a more equal society for all."
The Liberal Party Platform promised to "more than double the almost 11,000
Canadians who access Skills Link each year. This program helps young Canadians
– including Aboriginal and disabled youth – make a more successful transition to
the workplace."
The Hon. Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development, shared with
CCD Prime Minister Harper's media release, which announced "an increase in the

Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship – Canada's Federal Parties Have Their Say
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maximum annual Canada Disability Savings Grant for low and middle-class families
from $3,500 to $4,000."

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Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
For CCD, a Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA) could be a mechanism for
implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD),
which Canada ratified in 2010. In their letters to CCD, the NDP and the Green
Party took a stand in support of a CDA. Moreover, the Green, Liberal and NDP
committed to implement the CRPD, with the Green and the NDP vowing to ratify
the CRPD's Optional Protocol. Elizabeth May elaborated the Green Party's plan for
ensuring that people with disabilities enjoy human rights, "A Council of Canadian
Governments – representing the provinces, territories, municipalities and
indigenous governments – would meet and work closely with advocacy groups and
stakeholders to develop a coordinated approach to advance the human rights of
Canadians with disabilities."
Another priority for CCD has been the restoration of the Court Challenges Program,
a vehicle for promoting equality, inclusion and citizenship. The Bloc, Green, Liberal
and NDP support the program's renewal.

Access
Gilles Duceppe reported to CCD that the Bloc would transfer funds to the provinces
for infrastructure projects, making the provinces and municipalities responsible for
accessibility. The Green, Liberal and NDP parties shared information about how
they would improve inclusion and participation for people with disabilities by
increasing access to disability-related supports.
The Green Party advanced a national equipment fund to provide disability-related
supports to enable participation in work and community life. The Greens promised
to expand tax rebates for family caregivers and expand the criteria for the
Compassionate Care Benefit, make the Caregivers Amount and the Family
Caregiver Amount refundable and the Party supported the recommendations of the
Employer Panel for Caregivers to create caregiver-friendly workplaces.
The Liberal Party made a commitment to make caregiving benefits available to any
Canadian providing care to a seriously ill family member. Moreover, the Liberal
Party Platform has committed to investing $3 billion to improve home care
services.
The NDP will invest more than $2.7 billion over 4 years in affordable housing and
homelessness programs and "invest up to $1.5 billion annually in funding for
accessible public transit."
Mr. Mulcair reported to CCD that the NDP would improve access to palliative care,
while also implementing the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the Carter case

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(Assisted Suicide). The NDP promised to "consult widely with Canadians with
disabilities to ensure that the law contains sufficient safeguards."
CCD asked the Federal Parties to share with Canadians where, if elected, they
would expand the Federal Government's leadership role with respect to poverty
alleviation, the CRPD and access for persons with disabilities, so that we could
make this information known to Canadian voters.
"I encourage everyone to think about these responses before they cast their ballot
and to vote for the Party that they believe has the best plans for improving access
and inclusion for persons with disabilities, urges Dolan. "Accessibility and inclusion
benefit all Canadians."
-30For more information contact:
Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson, Tel: 902-626-1752 (cell).
John Rae, CCD Second Vice Chair, Tel: 416-941-1547.
James Hicks, National Coordinator, Tel: 343-291-1118.
About CCD - CCD is a national organization of people with disabilities that works
for an accessible and inclusive Canada.