Mr. Speaker, I want to take the opportunity to briefly enter into the debate on Motion No. 243. I commend the member for Kitchener Centre for having moved the motion. I had not intended to speak to this motion, but I was prompted to do so by the suggestion that any member of this House would want to delay the impact and lessen the importance of the private member's motion so that the report back date is later rather than sooner.
The reason I was prompted to speak to this motion is that I was thinking back to my former colleague Wendy Lill, the former member of Parliament for Dartmouth who did magnificent work. She breathed tremendous energy, life and compassion into the issues before the subcommittee on the persons living with disabilities during the seven years that she worked on behalf of her constituents of Dartmouth and also on behalf of persons living with disabilities in this country. At the same time she also served as one of the best, if not the best, arts and culture critics that this Parliament has ever known. I am thinking of how apoplectic she would be if she were sitting in this House today to hear that anybody would be thinking of a single reason for delaying reporting back on something as important as the issue of the level of CPP benefits for persons living with disabilities.
I was listening to the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's talk about the various other income sources that are available to some--and I say some because it is not all, and he did not say otherwise I want to make that clear--persons who are living with disabilities who are in receipt of, or who are potentially eligible to receive CPP disability benefits, sources like EI sick benefits, social assistance and so on.
My colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster has made the point again and again that what is really needed is a national strategy around the whole issue of income and other supports for persons living with disabilities. Until we have a commitment to a comprehensive national strategy, then what we are doing is dealing piecemeal with different aspects of what profoundly affects the lives of persons living with disabilities.
It is often not recognized by the public, and no wonder, given the nonsense of a dug-in partisan nature that goes on, that from time to time there has been collaboration across party lines in this House around these issues. We have seen over the last while the collaboration of opposition parties in the face of what seemed to be foot dragging by the government to step forward with a real sense of urgency and leadership to make sure that we were among the first to sign on to the international convention on the rights and dignity of persons living with disabilities. We saw the government move. Congratulations to the government for moving ahead with a more appropriate sense of urgency and indicating that it will actually participate in the signing ceremony that will help to propel the convention toward ratification.
Surely to heaven we can find the same resolve, the same appropriate sense of urgency to say that income supports for persons living with disabilities are inadequate. They are fragmented and fractured. There are people who are falling between the cracks. There are not appropriate bridges to ensure that people do not fall back in having the income needed to meet their everyday needs and the associated additional costs for persons living with disabilities.
Let us have a national strategy. Let us treat this with a sense of urgency. Let us deliver not piecemeal but comprehensively to those millions of people in Canada living with disabilities.