The Federal Scene and Disability Reforms: Disappointments, Discussions, and Designs Michael J. Prince Presentation to joint BCACL and BCCPD Meeting October.
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The Federal Scene and Disability Reforms: Disappointments, Discussions, and Designs Michael J. Prince Presentation to joint BCACL and BCCPD Meeting October 19, 2005
Three Questions Three Questions What was in the most recent federal budget for Canadians living with disabilities? What might the federal government alone or in concert with the provinces an territories do in the near term to put in place a national agenda for action and investments? What can BCCDP and BCACL and like minded organizations do to further the agenda?
Profile of Need About 2 million Canadian adults lack one or more of the disability supports they need. Half of children with disabilities who need specialized aids do not have all the aids they require. Families supporting a family member with a disability have lower household incomes than other families. PALS, 2001
Demand for supports will only grow Aging population of Canadian society Pressures on smaller sized families Public expectations for flexible, available and accountable services Further deinstitutionalization Labour market needs for skilled people
Response by disability organizations to the 2005 Federal Budget Tax benefits a positive step BUT of very limited use to most people with disabilities. Priority should be on expenditure programs instead. No long term vision expressed in budget. Implicit in Budget Speech language is a bio- medical, personal tragedy notion of disability, and an absence of equality and full citizenship discourse.
Reasons for a Greater Federal Role in Disability Policy Mandate of Social Development Canada Mobility rights of Canadians Equality rights of Canadians Assist governments of varying fiscal capacities to enhance and extend current patchwork of essential services Full citizenship will not be achieved without national leadership
Options under discussion by Federal, Provincial and Territorial Officials 1.New federal transfer to P/Ts for supports 2.New federal refundable tax credit for persons with severe disabilities 3.Earned Income supplement for low income workers with disabilities 4.New Canadian disability income program with reinvestment by P/Ts of funds into supports
Possible Elements of Options 1 and 4 Negotiate shared national goals, priority areas to fund, and accountability features Five year federal commitment to start with significant new federal investments Actual mix of funded supports and services determined by each province/territory in consultation with disability groups in their jurisdiction Accountability to own residents
A wider agenda of community living and inclusion A National Strategy on Supports for Canadians with Disabilities would be part of addressing barriers, improving opportunities and advancing inclusion One such reform idea, among others, is a National Home Support and Home Care Act A similar proposal has been crafted by the CACL and CCD (and endorsed by 40 other groups across the sector)
On Commitments “What kind of Canada do we want? … A Canada where people with disabilities and their families … have the support they need.” Prime Minister Paul Martin, response to the Speech from the Throne, February, 2004
What Next? “Canadians with disabilities …. have been patient, we have been collaborative, we have identified the need, we have identified the priority – disability related supports. What does the government expect our community to do now?” Marie White, Chairperson of Council of Canadians with Disabilities, February 23, 2005.
Next Steps Prepare for the upcoming federal election Continue to engage in raising public and political awareness of our issues Work together in defining and advancing the Great Goals and Golden Decade in BC