An open letter to all federal parties to fast track a Canada Disability Benefit
Dear Prime Minister and Members of Parliament:
We, the undersigned, offer our heartfelt congratulations to all of you for your success in the 44th federal election. We salute your commitment and courage in running for public office to build a nation and serve its people.
We are writing as people with disabilities — the largest minority group in Canada at 22 per cent. When you include our families, we make up 60 per cent of the Canadian population. We are also allies and supporters.
We are pleased that four political parties in the recent election included the needs of people with disabilities in their platforms. The Liberal Party of Canada, the Green Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party specifically committed to liveable income supplements for people with disabilities, while the Conservative Party of Canada committed to increasing employment supports.
We acknowledge the support and leadership of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough as an MP with lived experience who knows that the poverty of 1.4 million disabled Canadian adults cannot continue. Forty-one per cent of all people living in poverty in Canada are disabled.
We call on the newly elected Canadian government to fast-track the design and implementation of the Canada Disability Benefit. And to do it with the active and genuine involvement of disabled people every step of the way, from start to finish.
Doing so will centre the needs of people with disabilities in the country’s pandemic recovery plans and address a long-standing gap in our social safety net. This will also honour our commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In a recent survey, 89 per cent of Canadians agreed that a Canada Disability Benefit is the right thing to do and that the country should come together to dramatically reduce disability poverty.
We urge our new government to make the Canada Disability Benefit a high priority legacy initiative by including it in the Throne Speech. We anticipate all party support for fast action to make Canada the first country to provide a liveable income supplement for people with disabilities. We’ve done it for seniors and for children. Now it’s time for Canadians with disabilities who are ready to work alongside government to make it happen.
Gideon Arthurs, National Theatre School of Canada ●
Linda Bartram, National Treasurer, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians ● Curtis and Stacey Beattie ● Patricia Benoit, parent ● Helaine Boyd, disability advocate, Executive Director, Disability Alliance BC ● Alan Broadbent, Chairman and CEO, Avana Capital Corporation; Chairman and Founder, Maytree ● Bonnie Brown, Chair of Advancement Women of Halton ● Mary Ellen Brunner, person with disabilities, member of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians ● Jodi L. H. Butts ●
Sherry Caldwell, Co-Founder, Ontario Disability Coalition ● Kevin Caleb, AEBC ● Vickie Cammack, CM, MSM, Co-founder Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network ● Andrew Chunilall, CEO, Community Foundations of Canada ● Sergio Cocchia, Parent, cofounder of Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN) ● Alan Conway, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians and Guide Dog Users of Canada ● Sherry Costa-Lorenz, Provincial Coordinator, Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities ● Senator Brent Cotter ● Murray Coulter, CPA, CMA, parent of children with disabilities ● Christa Couture, writer ● Lee Crawford ● Marie-Josée Crawford ● Season Crooks ●
Kendal David, MSW, Co-Chair, Basic Income Canada Youth Network ● Stephanie Debisschop, Executive Director, Plan Institute ● Martin Deschamps, disabled man, musician, Quebec ● Rachel Desjourdy, Senior Specialist, Diversity, Engagement and Inclusion (Accessibility) at CBC/Radio-Canada ● Stephanie Dixon, C.M., Team Canada Chef de Mission, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games ● Nadine Domingos ● Jane Dyson, O.B.C., Former Executive Director (retired), Disability Alliance BC ●
Hon. Art Eggleton, P.C. ● Brooke (Thomas) El Skaf, PhD Student, Dalhousie University ● Zoe Ookpik Elverum, person with disabilities and disability advocate, Nunavut ● Victor Enns, Deaf and disabled man, poet and writer ● Al Etmanski CM, OBC, MSM co-founder Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network ●
Larissa Fan, advocate, Millions Missing Canada ● Richard Faucher, Executive Director, Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) ● Christin Ferreira, parent of a person with disabilities ● Andrew Fifield, Cofounder, Advocates for ME ● Barbara Fifield, Cofounder, Millions Missing Canada ● Norah Flaherty, Mom, Advocate, Chair of RDSP Action Group ● Dr. Evelyn Forget, Professor of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba ● Joe Foster , Former Human Rights Critic for the GPC, Past Facilitator OBIN, Human Rights, AEPC ● Yvette Foster ● Laurent Fréchette, Notary Emeritus, Hogue Fortier Fréchette ●
Alison Galley ● Linda Gambell, MMT, MTA, RP, Wilfrid Laurier University ● Maria Garito ● Jo Anne Gauthier – President, BC People First ● Shari Graydon, Catalyst, Informed Opinions ● Denise Grogan ●
Nancy E Hansen, PhD, Professor , Director, Interdisciplinary Master’s Program, Disability Studies, University of Manitoba ● Molly Harrington, retired civil servant ● Tara Hart, parent ● Michelle Hewitt, person with disabilities, disability advocate and PhD student, Co-Chair – Disability Without Poverty ● Andrea Hilson, Occupational Therapist (Core Lifemark) ● Wendy Hoang, Canadian Council of the Blind, Toronto Visionaries Chapter, Alliance of Equality of Blind Canadians, Toronto Chapter ● Jan Hogg ● Dr. Rachelle Hole, Co-Director, Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship, UBC-O ● Pam Horton, person with disabilities and disability advocate; Chair of the Board, Disability Alliance BC ● Fatima and Goldy Hyder, parents ●
Dr. Esther Ignagni, PhD, Director & Associate Professor, School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University ●
Marianne Kerkhoven ● Brianna Kestle, RP, RCAT, Registered Psychotherapist, Registered Canadian Art Therapist ● Maimuna Khan, MSW Candidate, International & Community Development, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary ● Rabia Khedr, disabled woman and disability advocate, founder of DEEN Support Services, National Director of Disability Without Poverty ● Louise Kinross, BLOOM Editor, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital ● Naomi F. Knischewsky, M.Eng., P.Eng., parent of child with disability ● Ramona Kovacsik ● Katharine Kristiansen ●
Laura LaChance, Interim Executive Director, Canadian Down Syndrome Society ● Mohamed Lachemi, President and Vice Chancellor, Ryerson University ● Mezaun Lakha-Evin, Associate Executive Director, Cerebral Palsy Alberta, Alberta Ability Network ● Erika Larking, parent ● Joy LaRusic, Achieve Program Coordinator, Nova Scotia Community College ● Alex LeBlanc ● Marie LeBlanc, advocate, Millions Missing Canada ● Jenn Ledgur, parent ● Brenda Lenahan, parent, founder and director, BC Complex Kids Society ● Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia C.M., O.B.C., LL.D(Hon), Parent, cofounder of Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN) ● John Lord, disability advocate, Order of Canada ● Dr. Yona Lunsky, PhD CPsych; Director, Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre; Senior Scientist, CAMH ●
Amanda MacKenzie, National Director, Public Affairs ● Peter MacLeod, Principal, MASS LBP ● Steve Mantis, Treasurer of the Thunder Bay & Dist. Injured Workers Support Group; Chair of the Research Action Committee of the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups ● Michelle McDonald – Executive Director, Brain Injury Canada ● Nicole McDonald, social justice & disability advocate ● Patrick McGrath OC, PhD, FRSC, FCAHS, Emeritus Professor, Psychiatry, Dalhousie University; Scientist, IWK Health Centre; Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, UOttawa; Chair of Board, Strongest Families Institute ● Prof. Errol Mendes, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa ● Susan Merrin ● David Mitchell, Premier’s Council on Charities and Civil Society, AB; Former MLA, B.C. ● Ali Mohammed, person with disability and disability advocate ● Sean Moore, Principal, Advocacy School ● Tracy, David, Cooper and Alec Moore ● Jean-Pierre Morier, president, Finautonome ● Tara Moss, bestselling author, and award winning human rights and disability advocate ● Elizabeth Mulholland, CEO, Prosper Canada ● Marie Myke, AEBC ●
Patricia Neves, Executive Director, Inclusion Nova Scotia ●
Kathleen O’Grady, parent, CEO, QUOI Media Group; Research Associate, Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University ● Erin O’Keefe Graham, Director, Emera ideaHUB, Dalhousie University; HR Committee Chair, Inclusion Nova Scotia ● Carla O’Neill, President, Family Alliance Ontario ● Hon. David C. Onley, CM, Ont., Ontario Lieutenant Governor 2007-2014 ● Anastasia Onotsky ● Mary-Lou Osborne ●
Ivonne Paez, Accessibility Advisor ● Guillaume Parent, Directeur centre d’expertise, finances et handicap, Finautonome ● Sricamalan (Sri) Pathmanathan ● Luca “LazyLegs” Patuelli, person with disabilities, dancer and educator, co-chair of Disability Without Poverty ● Rebecca Pauls, disability advocate, Executive Director, Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network, (PLAN) ● Linda Pepperdine-Ling ● Rohini Peris, President and CEO, Environmental Health Association of Québec (ASEQ-EHAQ) ● Marnie Peters, President, Accessibility Simplified ● Joy H. Petersen, mother of two adult disabled children ● Nyree Pilon ● Dr. Michael J. Prince, Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy, University of Victoria ● Barb Prysnuk-Schat , Fred Schat, Elizabeth Prysnuk and Steph Prysnuk ●
Lynne Quigley ●
John Rae, Past President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, Toronto, ON ● Senator Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia ● Helen Ries , Co-Founder, The Sibling Collaborative ● Dr. Jennifer Robson, Associate Professor of Political Management, Carleton University ● Allan Rock, President Emeritus and Professor of Law, University of Ottawa ● Robert J., Pearl A., and Kathleen Shannon L. Rodie, parents ● Dr. Noralou Roos, Professor Emerita, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba; founding director of the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy; co-Director, Get Your Benefits ● Sharon Rousseau, Advocates for ME ● Peggy Russell, Vice-Chair Advancement Women of Halton ● Tammy Ruttan, parent ●
Rozina Saeed ● Lisa Schauer ● Michelle Shales and Adam Shales P. Eng. ● Tom Shepansky, Founder/Trustee, Rethink Communications, Board Chair, Vancouver Foundation ● Ardra Shephard, woman living with MS, writer and media personality ● Fay Shirkoohi, Administration Support, Disability Alliance BC ● Mina Shum: Independent Canadian filmmaker, award-winning writer and director ● Meenu Sikand, person with disabilities and disability advocate, Accessibility for All ● Manon Simard, Advocate with Millions Missing Canada ● Shane Simpson, BC Minister of Social Development & Poverty Reduction 2017-20 ● Sue Simpson, Parent, Executive Director, Waterloo Region Family Network ● Jeffery Smith, Cofounder, Millions Missing Canada ● Tracy Smith-Carrier PhD, MSW, Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) Advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Associate Professor, School of Humanitarian Studies, Royal Roads University ● John Stapleton, Principal, Open Policy Ontario ● Barb Steele, Executive Director, Ashoka Canada ● Staci Stoyke, mother, legal guardian ● Dean Strachey, person with disabilities and disability advocate ● Jane Stratton-Zimmer ● Carmen Sutherland ● Siobhan Sutherland, MA, Psychology Resident, University of Waterloo ●
Dr. Lindsay M Tedds, Associate Professor, Economics & The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary ● Donna Thomson, Parent, Author, Disability Advocate ● Jill Thompson Millions Missing Canada ● Kevin Thompson, LL.B. Member of the Board of Directors, Families Matter Cooperative ● Maria Tomas ● Danielle Tremblay, Case Manager, Teamwork Cooperative ●
Pamela Valentine, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada ● Andrea van Vugt, person with disabilities and disability advocate, Disability Pride Alberta ● Elaine Colleen Vaughn ● Deacon Kenneth Gregory Vaughn, Clergy, Catholic Church, Archdiocese of Kingston ● Michelle Vyn ●
Mohammad Waliul Islam, AEBC ● Carol Webb ● Maureen Weinberger, Chair, Poverty Free Halton ● Ben Weinlick, Executive Director of Skills Society (Alberta) ● Jayne Whyte, person with disabilities and disability advocate and writer, Saskatchewan ● Devon Wilkins, AEBC ● Bridget Williams ● James R. Wright, Parent, Former Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom ●
Marcia Yale, National President, AEBC ● Marcus Youssef, MFA, playwright, and author, Siminovitch Prize Winner ●
Dr. Jennifer Zwicker, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair Disability Policy for Children and Youth (University of Calgary School of Public Policy)
This open letter is coordinated by Disability Without Poverty, March of Dimes Canada, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Race & Disability Canada
Source for all statistics in letter: