Good morning, Chair, and members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Let me take this opportunity to thank you for allowing us to have the opportunity to address the fair elections act.
My name is Kory Earle. As mentioned, I am the past-president of People First of Lanark County, past executive director for People First of Lanark County, and also an honorary lifetime member. I must say not only do I hold those titles, but I am privileged to represent People First of Ontario as the president, and also as first vice-president for People First of Canada right across Canada.
People First is a self-advocacy organization for people with intellectual disabilities. Our goal and mandate has always been to support our members on issues they face and to fulfill any questions to help governments change policies that change the lives of people with disabilities.
I'll just mention that although I hesitate to take questions, I will do that.
In the meantime I want to take a moment to really thank the minister, Pierre Poilievre, and MP Scott Reid for allowing me and People First of Lanark County to meet prior to this year to talk about this proposed act and provide our input. Certainly our concerns are addressed, I will say with gratitude, in this act today.
We do support some of the fair elections act without any question. However, I do want to say that I do have concerns moving forward with this act, and there are a couple of amendments we would like to see.
I would like to add more thoughts to help make this act stronger for people with disabilities. When this act is passed into law, there should be more added to deal with people who have literacy problems. Of the Canadians with disabilities, 42% face literacy problems to this very day.
This act also needs to be strengthened as we are forgetting that people who have invisible disabilities are being ignored.
There are a couple of friendly amendments I really think this committee should strongly look at. We have heard from members coast to coast across Canada. In fact Quebec brought it to our national board as an amendment, and we're continuing to fight for this amendment to this day.
We're proposing that at the advance polls and on election day, you have the picture, logo, and party on the ballots, or even at the voting station. That, believe it or not, will help many people with literacy problems and people with disabilities. That's a friendly amendment we're pushing for. Our national organization has adopted the resolution to push for that.
We propose another amendment to this act. We understand just this past year that people can get special ballots. This act should talk more clearly about how people can get the special ballots, whether it be during the campaigns, whether it be by holding information sessions to talk about that a lot more. Each MP should inform the people about it as many don't know about the special ballots. We did not learn about the special ballots until this past year, although we encourage people to still come out on advance polls and on election day.
We have a caution for the committee. We applaud the extra advance polling day. People far too often are segregated when it comes to elections. They have anxiety attacks. That's a huge concern among people who cannot be around huge crowds. From working at municipal, provincial, and national elections, I can honestly say there have been improvements, but there's still 90% of work that can be achieved.
Again, together we can work to achieve the best interests of people with disabilities from coast to coast.
This is the quickest speech I have ever done in history, but with all due respect, Chair, I'll be happy to leave it to your questions. I'll pass to Diane.
Thank you so much.