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Progressive Conservative Party answers our pre-election questions

  1. It is well recognized that there are barriers in Canadian society that people with disabilities are facing on a daily basis. People who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted face barriers such as transportation accessibility, access to the built environment and access to print materials. What is your party prepared to do to reduce and eliminate these barriers? Canada’s Conservatives are committed to boosting the Enabling Accessibility Fund. We will provide an additional $80 million per year through the fund to provide: • Additional incentives for small businesses and community projects to improve accessibility. • Grants and support for all types of accessibility equipment that disabled Canadians need to work. • Enhancements to existing programs that will get more disabled Canadians into the workforce. We will also amend the Home Accessibility Tax Credit by increasing the limit from $10,000 per dwelling to $10,000 per person to recognize the costs disabled Canadians incur when making their own homes accessible.

  2. Since many Canadians were eligible for the CERB (up to $38,000), and disabled Canadians receiving the Disability Tax Credit were given a paltry one-time payment of $600, what is your party prepared to do to reduce the chronic level of poverty among blind, deafblind, partially sighted and otherwise disabled Canadians? If elected, when can we expect this to happen? Canada’s Conservatives will double the Disability Supplement in the Canada Workers Benefit from $713 to $1,500, providing a major boost to lower-income disabled Canadians on top of our increase in the Canada Workers Benefit. We will double the Canada Workers Benefit up to a maximum of $2,800 for individuals or $5,000 for families and pay it as a quarterly direct deposit rather than a tax refund at year-end. To give more Canadians with disabilities access to financial support, we will reduce the number of hours required to qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) and the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) from 14 to 10 hours per week. Our changes will save a disabled person eligible for the tax credit or their family an average of $2,100 per year. Making it easier to qualify for the tax credit will also make it easier to qualify for the RDSP, which provides up to $3,500 per year in matching grants for Canadians with disabilities.

  3. Many medical devices are currently not usable by blind, deafblind and partially sighted Canadians. Will your party require Health Canada to approve only devices that are usable by blind, deafblind and partially sighted Canadians? Will you commit to working with the provinces and territories to ensure all prescription and other healthcare information is made accessible? Canada’s Conservatives want to make life easier for Canadians with disabilities. We will work with Health Canada to ensure that the needs of disabled Canadians are considered when approving medical devices and medications. We will also meet with the Premiers within the first 100 days of forming government to propose a new health agreement with the provinces and territories that boosts the annual growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer to at least six per cent. This will inject nearly $60 billion into our health care system over the next 10 years.

  4. As you know, job creation and “building back better” are major preoccupations for Canadians and, as you are aware, our community suffers from an approximate unemployment rate of 75%, what is your party prepared to do to increase the level of employment for those of us who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted? Our signature job creation measure - the Canada Job Surge - will incentivize employers to hire those who have been unemployed for longer. We believe that this will help boost the rate of employment for those who for too long have been shut out of the labour market. Canada’s Conservatives will ensure that Canadians with disabilities are always better off if they choose to work. The complex web of programs in place today means that someone can lose more than a dollar in benefit cuts and higher taxes for every dollar they earn by working. This means that for many Canadians, the harder they work, the poorer they become. We will overhaul the complex array of disability supports and benefits to ensure that working always leaves someone further ahead. And we will work with the provinces to ensure that federal programs are designed to work with provincial programs to achieve this result. This will augment the effect of our increase to the Canada Workers Benefit, which will help make work pay for disabled Canadians by boosting the benefits of work. Our Canada Job Surge Plan will also complement the boost to the Canada Workers Benefit and will pay up to 50 per cent of the salary of new hires for six months following the end of CEWS. Both of these are designed to get as many people hired as possible. We’ll also reduce the number of hours required to qualify for the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan from 14 to 10 hours per week.

  5. The National Housing Strategy requires that a mere 20% of new housing starts be accessible. As this is woefully inadequate, given the fact that our population is aging, by how much is your party committed to increasing this target? Canada’s Conservatives are committed to ensuring that the federal government's housing policies take into consideration the particular needs of Canadians living with disabilities. We will ensure that housing policies are developed and implemented with the needs of Canadians of every ability in mind through ongoing stakeholder engagement. As noted earlier, Canada’s Conservatives are committed to boosting the Enabling Accessibility Fund. We will provide an additional $80 million per year through the fund to provide additional incentives for small businesses and community projects to improve accessibility. We also plan to build a million new homes in the next three years. We will do this by: • Leveraging federal infrastructure investments to increase housing supply. o Build public transit infrastructure that connects homes and jobs by bringing public transit to where people are buying homes. o Require municipalities receiving federal funding for public transit to increase density near the funded transit. • Review the extensive real estate portfolio of the federal government - the largest property owner in the country with over 37,000 buildings - and release at least 15% for housing while improving the Federal Lands Initiative. • Incent developers to build the housing Canadians both want and need. • Continue the Conservative commitment to Reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples by enacting a “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” strategy - long called for by Indigenous housing advocates, who have been ignored by this Liberal government. • Enhance the viability of using Community Land Trusts for affordable housing by creating an incentive for corporations and private landowners to donate property to Land Trusts for the development of affordable housing.

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This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.