House of Commons Hansard #333 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cptpp.


Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.


Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague and friend for bringing this very important motion to the House of Commons.

I know that time is of the essence. Therefore, I hope that there is co-operation from all sides to make sure that this motion is brought to life and that we begin some serious work on this important issue.

Why is time so important, and why, running into 2019, is it important to get this done as soon as possible? I would ask the hon. member to re-emphasize the importance of time for this bill.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.


David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Mr. Speaker, time is important for a lot of reasons. There are many people who do not have access to treatment. They cannot afford it. I will give an example from our circumstances, which I can relate to. When my wife needs a certain treatment, every time we have to go back to a specialist. It takes six months to a year to get her in. She cannot get the treatment she requires unless we pay for it ourselves, which we do. There are other people out there who do not have the ability to get that money to pay for these services on their own. I am here for those people, the people who are struggling to put food on their tables while trying to deal with their episodic disabilities.

We need to help those people now, not tomorrow, not next year, and not five years from now. We need to do it now, and the faster the better. Let us get a move on this. Let us make sure that we are looking after our fellow Canadians.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Sean Fraser Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking my hon. colleague for bringing forward this important issue and, in particular, for sharing his personal stories about the importance of this issue. Of course, the impact of episodic disabilities is not limited to his family but also is significant for Canadians in every part of our country.

Our government understands that people with episodic disabilities such as MS, arthritis, diabetes, chronic pain and some types of mental health issues as well face particular barriers to their social and economic participation in society. At its core, what this motion seeks to do is to have a committee study the issue of episodic disabilities to ensure the people who live with these disabilities are adequately protected.

With respect to my hon. colleague's motion, before I commit on the spot to what seems like a sensible thing to study, I would like to have the opportunity to chat with some of my colleague who serve on the committee to ensure, first, that episodic disabilities would be part of the study on Bill C-81, and to ensure that we are taking steps in that bill to address the issue. If it turns out that this motion would indeed make a difference and not duplicate the work, it would have my support.

Episodic disabilities are characterized by fluctuating periods of wellness and periods of illness or disability. These periods may vary in length, severity and predictability. In 2012, almost 3.8 million Canadians reported having a disability that limited their daily activities. This figure includes people with episodic disabilities.

Persons living with disabilities often face more challenges in the labour force than those without disabilities. In 2011, close to half, or 47%, of 15-year-olds to 64-year-olds living with disabilities reported that they were employed. The figure for their contemporaries without disabilities was 74%. Employment is one of the key aspects of independent living and full participation in society. As such, the Government of Canada strives to empower all adults of working age, including people with episodic disabilities, to fully contribute to their communities and achieve their personal goals.

Our government is committed to supporting people with all forms of disabilities. One of our important initiatives is to remove barriers in areas of federal jurisdiction. On June 20, 2018, we tabled in Parliament Bill C-81, the accessible Canada act. I should stress that barriers can not only be physical in nature, such as access to built infrastructure like buildings, but that attitudinal barriers can also limit access and full inclusion. For example, persons living with disabilities can face discrimination in their workplaces or in seeking employment.

Earlier, I mentioned the discrepancy between the employment rates of those living with disabilities compared with other Canadians. However, the survey indicated that 51% of potential workers in that age group thought employers considered them disadvantaged as a result of their condition. This simply is not right. Under the new proposed legislation, organizations falling within federal jurisdiction would be required to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility, including in the area of employment.

Under this important bill, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility would be responsible for the act and would implement aspects of it related to employment across all sectors within federal jurisdiction, including transportation, broadcasting and telecommunications.

Bill C-81 would also make use of a broader definition of disability. This speaks to the content of the motion in particular, because the definition includes a specific reference to episodic disabilities to signal our commitment to reducing barriers for people who live with episodic conditions. If passed, Bill C-81 would require consideration of the particular accessibility needs of people with a variety of disabilities, including episodic disabilities such as multiple sclerosis. For all people with disabilities, we are taking action.

To support the implementation of the proposed new legislation, the Government of Canada has committed approximately $53 million over six years toward a new strategy for an accessible Government of Canada. As part of the strategy, and as Canada's largest employer, the Government of Canada has committed to hiring at least 5,000 new employees who live with disabilities over the next five years. We are also introducing a federal internship program for Canadians with disabilities, and establishing a centralized workplace accommodation fund to better manage workplace accessibility for federal public service employees who live with disabilities. This is real action to effect change, and it will impact individuals who live with episodic disabilities.

These initiatives would support Canadians in accessing secure, gainful employment opportunities. Supporting and advancing the inclusion of people living with disabilities is not new to this government. From day one, we have been committed to this goal and have been improving our programs and benefits to better fit people's needs. This is also why we have a minister dedicated to supporting persons living with disabilities. Our approach is based on collaboration and communication. Notably, we have heard from people with episodic disabilities and stakeholder organizations that these individuals may face barriers in accessing federal supports.

I am proud to say that our government has taken significant action to enhance the federal programs in place to support these individuals. For example, in budget 2018, the Government of Canada announced that it would extend the employment insurance provisions for those working while on claim to sickness and maternity benefits. This would allow claimants dealing with an illness or injury to have greater flexibility managing their return to work and to keep more of their employment insurance benefits. This measure could have a positive impact on improving workforce attachment for people with episodic disabilities.

In 2017, the CRA reinstated the disability advisory committee, a committee of 12 members and two co-chairs, including people living with disabilities, advocates from the disability and indigenous communities, qualified health practitioners and tax professionals. This committee is mandated to advise the Minister of National Revenue and the commissioner of the CRA on interpreting and administering tax measures for Canadians living with disabilities in a fair, transparent and accessible way.

Enhancing the accessibility of the CRA's services to persons living with disabilities, including those with episodic disabilities, is an ongoing effort that will be greatly assisted by the committee's work. The Government of Canada is also committed to filling knowledge gaps around the experiences of people with episodic disabilities.

Statistics Canada's 2017 Canadian survey on disability is the first national survey to contain questions aimed at identifying people with episodic disabilities, and will provide valuable information to be used by governments, disability organizations, and other stakeholders. Results are expected to be released later this fall.

In these ways, the Government of Canada continues to implement its commitment to advancing the inclusion of people with episodic disabilities. We will maintain communications with Canadians with episodic disabilities so that we can always improve the support we provide and empower them to get the most out of life.

We believe in a truly accessible Canada, one where everyone has a fair chance to succeed.

I look forward to second reading of the hon. member's motion and having the opportunity before it comes back to the House to chat with my colleagues to ensure that the motion will lead to greater support for those living with episodic disabilities.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

October 5th, 2018 / 1:40 p.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our colleague from Fort McMurray—Cold Lake for introducing this motion to instruct the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities to study the issue of episodic disabilities.

I am also happy to inform him that the NDP will be supporting this motion. We believe it involves very important principles that we support.

Episodic disabilities are a vital issue, as they can affect any one of us. Many of us probably know quite a few people with episodic disabilities. I know I do.

Some people may be wondering what episodic disabilities are. They are disabilities related to conditions like multiple sclerosis, arthritis, cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and certain forms of mental illness. Someone can have both permanent and episodic disabilities. The difference between the two is clear. Episodic disabilities are characterized by varying periods and degrees of good health and disability, meaning that a person can be fully functional at times and not so much at others. That means that their participation in the workforce is intermittent and above all unpredictable. The fact that these disabilities are often invisible and unpredictable is their defining characteristic.

A great number of people are affected by this type of disability. For example, over 4 million Canadians have arthritis; 20% of all Canadians will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives; an estimated 100,000 Canadians have MS; about 71,000 Canadians have HIV; and close to 2.8 million Canadians have diabetes. This issue affects many of our fellow citizens.

Sadly, it has become apparent that our systems, such as insurance plans and government benefits, are ill-suited to the unpredictable and fluctuating nature of these people's disabilities. For example, to qualify for Canada pension plan disability benefits, a person has to have a severe and prolonged disability. Often, a person with an episodic disability will not have contributed enough at work to qualify for benefits. Similarly, to qualify for employment insurance sickness benefits—which are never provided on a part-time basis, even though episodic disabilities do not affect everyone the same way, as I mentioned—a person must be completely unable to work. That leaves out many of the people I described earlier.

Provincial income support programs for people with disabilities are often restricted to people with long-term disabilities. Short-term disability insurance may not allow a person with an episodic disability enough time off to recover. In order to qualify for long-term disability insurance, the person has to be completely disabled. It is like there is a gap between the different systems, and Canadians with episodic disabilities are falling through the cracks.

These people have important needs. They need us to support them and be there for them. I have talked about the number of people with these illnesses, and we need to do something. For now, the motion mainly sets out broad parameters and principles for a study. The study should be done as soon as possible, which is something my colleague and I both agree on, because this issue needs to be addressed.

To quote Glenn Betteridge, a staff lawyer at HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario, “People with disabilities have a legal right to participate fully and equally in Canadian society”. Giving them the means to do so benefits them, their family and friends, and ultimately all of us. Let us do the right thing and plug the gaps in the existing system.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to Motion No. 192, the private member's motion of my colleague from Fort McMurray—Cold Lake. It seeks to enhance government policy responding to persons who suffer from episodic disabilities, including those caused by MS.

I had the pleasure of knowing my colleague from Fort McMurray—Cold Lake for several years before I came to the House. I met his wife, Kathy, when they were door knocking for their by-election, and his daughter, Melissa, a wonderful lady who is suffering under snow in Calgary. She can come home to Edmonton any time. She served on my EDA. I tease David that we have the third best Yurdiga in the House today, but they are wonderful people nonetheless.

His wife, Kathy, is a wonderful lady, She spent countless hours helping out those in Fort McMurray during the disastrous fire we had a couple of years ago. Even with the issues she is facing, she still continues to give to the community, and I thank her for that.

I know my office, no doubt like other MPs here, works with constituents who need help accessing disability resources and, as is often the case, are looking for support from the system that may not be best equipped to handle changing needs, demographic and demands.

Discussions like the one we are having today are essential for establishing an action plan for community organizations that serve those who live with debilitating conditions. This type of discussion, a proper referral to committee to hear directly from those affected, how they can be better accommodated, what needs to be changed and so on, is the best way we can ensure that the needs of those who suffer from a disability, which may not always present signs or systems, are heard.

I compare this motion against the government's Bill C-81, which rather than provide an opportunity to develop a tangible plan with a road map for goals and desired outcomes, seeks to merely increase the bureaucracy and spending and add what will likely be decades more of proposals for upgrading buildings from Infrastructure Canada and PSPC. I have no doubt it will be added to the Liberals' list of “underway with challenges” on the Liberals' fabled mandate tracker.

We need to truly address the needs of persons with disabilities and, like my colleague for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake has highlighted, those whose condition may present episodically rather than chronically. The best way to do this is not through the observed experience of a policy analyst at PSPC or of a bureaucrat whose government mandated focus is fining and penalizing government agencies whose buildings are not up to code.

Bill C-81's information package provided by the government had twice as much information on how it would fine and penalize Canadians than it did on how it would implement the program or how it would help Canadians with disabilities. I would not be so cynical if there were not a clear record of the government penalizing persons with disabilities rather than helping them.

Let us go back to as recently as last year. The CRA began targeting people living with type 1 diabetes, people suffering from autism, as well as those suffering from severe mental health disorders. Autism Canada says that to this day it still is hearing too many stories of people who have had the disability tax credit, sometimes for decades, for their children with autism and it is being taken away.

What is going on with the government that it is allowing the CRA to go after families that have a loved one suffering from autism and now saying "you don't qualify"? Here is a hint to the government. People do not have autism and a tax credit one day and then the next not have autism. The way the government is acting is beyond belief.

The disability tax credit reduces the tax burden of people with type 1 diabetes and others with disabilities. Under the law, they have been eligible to receive it for the last 10 years as long as a doctor certified that they required life-sustaining therapy at least three times each week for a total of 14 hours on average. The government is now taking away tax credits from people who have diabetes or autism even when doctors certify they are eligible under the existing law and policy, neither of which has changed apparently.

This new direction appears to have happened secretly, with no public notice or consultation with the diabetes community. As a diabetes sufferer stated, "It's not like I can snap a finger and this disease turns off." Therefore, I have a question in all of this for a government that is so heavy on the need to consult. Why is it so quick to unilaterally decide on how to handle the issue of the level of disability? This is part of an alarming trend from a government increasingly desperate to raise revenue to fund its out of control spending.

I note that in its accessibility legislation, there is no mention of helping community-based organizations, those that persons with disabilities rely on during their day-to-day lives. People living with a disability do not need additional red tape, empty promises or an enhanced bureaucracy that just increases the amount of redirects they get when they call the department for help.

They need tangible change, something that can be attained by digging into exactly what is working and what is not working through a comprehensive study like that proposed under Motion No. 192. Perhaps the Liberals need to take heed of our record on disability legislation with programs that provided concrete action to address disability-related problems.

The Conservative government introduced the registered disability savings plan, which helps parents and grandparents with children with severe disabilities to contribute to the children's financial security. Over 100,000 Canadians have taken advantage of this program to save for their children's future. It took all of three months from election to legislation to create this program. Compare that to the Liberal record on Bill C-81 with three different ministers, or maybe four when we consider that it started with the current minister of PSPC under a different department. Now it is with disability and sports. With three different mandate letters over three years and it is still not accomplished.

During the former Conservative era, we invested $30 million into the opportunities fund to help persons with disabilities gain employment. We supported caregivers by providing tax credits to help them through the difficulties associated with caring for a loved one. There was over $200 million for labour market agreements for persons with disabilities to assist provinces in improving the employment situation of Canadians with disabilities, millions of dollars for the initiative of the Canadian Association for Community Living to connect persons with developmental disabilities with jobs, millions to support the expansion of vocational training programs for persons with autism spectrum disorder, and the list goes on.

However, the former Conservative government's action on disability resources did not stop with our previous government. The member for Calgary Shepard introduced Bill C-399,, the fairness for persons with disabilities act. This bill would amend the Income Tax Act to reduce the threshold for the number of hours necessary for an activity to be eligible for the tax credit from 14 to 10 hours. In the case of therapy that requires a regular dosage, it would take into consideration time spent on calculating the dosage to qualify for the tax credit. This would protect diabetics and certain rare disease patients for whom the calculation of their dosage takes considerable time. It would also add medical food and formula to qualifying for the DTC in order to add certainty for patients with certain rare diseases. This is the action that we need and action that will help those living with disabilities.

The member for Carleton introduced Bill C-395, the opportunity for workers with disabilities act to ensure that those with disabilities, upon gaining employment, are not net losers when government benefit clawbacks occur. Again, this is real action, common-sense action to help. Now my colleague for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake is introducing this motion to develop a road map that would close the gaps in policy for people who are not always presenting signs of a disability, as is often the case for people suffering from MS.

We need a record that clearly shows what Canadians are saying about how the current system affects them and how it must be changed to help them not only live with dignity but continue to be active and contributing members of Canadian society. Motion No. 192 provides the action plan to do exactly that and I hope my colleagues on all sides of the House recognize what it seeks to do and support it.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.


John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying that our government takes very seriously the challenges faced by people with episodic disabilities.

Episodic disability is a health condition that we all know about but that is difficult to measure and manage because of its unpredictable manifestations. It is for this reason that we take into account the needs of people with episodic disabilities in the development of our legislative programs and policies.

Episodic disability is characterized by moments of well-being and periods of illness or disability. These periods can vary in duration, predictability and severity. It is because of their condition that people with episodic disabilities may have to take time off work and thus use income replacement programs.

In 2012, nearly 3.8 million Canadians aged 15 and over reported having a disability limiting their daily activities, including those with episodic disabilities. People with episodic disabilities often face more employment challenges than people without disabilities. In 2011, almost half, or 47%, of respondents with disabilities aged 15 to 64 reported having a job, but for non-disabled respondents, this proportion was 74%.

Many of us know someone who has an episodic disability, and many people have episodic disabilities as they get older.

Motion No. 192 proposes that the House of Commons request the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities to make “recommendations for legislative and policy changes necessary to ensure that the needs of persons with episodic disabilities caused, among other things, by multiple sclerosis, be adequately protected to ensure equity in government policy to support Canadians across all types of disability.”

Our government is well aware that people with disabilities face unique barriers that may limit their participation in our society and economy.

Our efforts to support and advance the integration of people with disabilities are not new. Since day one, we have been committed to this goal. In addition, we have improved and adjusted our programs accordingly. That is also why we have a minister dedicated to accessibility.

Our approach is based on collaboration and communication. That is how the government implements its commitment to people with episodic disabilities. We are committed to supporting people with episodic disabilities through many programs and benefits, such as the Canada pension plan disability program, the disability tax credit and the Canada health and social services disability benefits.

We have heard from people with episodic disabilities and the organizations that represent them that they are not always eligible for benefits of this nature because of the nature of their illness. For example, in June 2018, the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology presented concerns such as these in its report, “Breaking Down Barriers: A critical analysis of the Disability Tax Credit and Registered Disability Savings Plan.”

We are constantly evaluating the extent to which our programs meet the needs of people from diverse groups, including people with episodic disabilities. We also regularly ask for advice on how our programs and policies could be more inclusive and better help Canadians. We appreciate the work of the organizations involved in this regard.

We have already taken important steps to provide better support. For example, in budget 2018, our government announced that it would expand labour provisions for a period of El benefits, maternity and sickness benefits. The purpose of this measure is to provide claimants who have an illness or injury more flexibility to manage their return to work and retain a larger portion of their El benefits.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention Bill C-81. On June 20, 2018, we tabled the accessible Canada act in Parliament. Under this new legislative proposal, our government would require organizations under federal jurisdiction to identify, eliminate and prevent barriers to accessibility, particularly in the area of employment. In addition, Bill C-81 would require consideration of the particular accessibility needs of people with a variety of disabilities, including those with episodic disabilities.

Before we introduced our bill, we talked to and listened to stakeholders. During the “accessible Canada” consultations, we heard from more than 6,000 Canadians and 90 organizations.

Our Government recognizes that it is important to ensure that people with episodic disabilities benefit from the proposed accessibility act in the same way as other people.

In response to stakeholder recommendations, Bill C-81 includes a broader definition of disability and specifically includes episodic disabilities. This addition is a clear sign to those with an episodic disability that our government is working to remove the barriers they face on a daily basis. Our government will continue to work with persons with disabilities, including those with an episodic disability. Our goal is to ensure these people are recognized and supported by our policies, programs and laws. Our commitment to inclusion and accessibility is unwavering.

I want to express my appreciation to our colleague for bringing this issue to the House. There is no reason why all Canadians cannot showcase all of their strengths and talents. People with disabilities share the same contributions to Canada's prosperity as the rest of Canadians. Canada is a country where everyone should be able to benefit from our collective prosperity. We will continue our work to shape an all-inclusive Canada.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.


Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to get up to speak to this motion by the member for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake. Since his coming to the House three years ago, we have gotten to know the member and his spouse quite well. He has put this motion forward that mentions multiple sclerosis because that is a condition that has affected his household most closely. However, from getting to know them over the past three years, I know that is not the only focus or intent of this motion. He and his spouse are caring individuals and he has put forward this motion to address the multiple types of episodic disorders that exist, not just the ones that have affected his household. I give the member great credit for that and for recognizing that this is a widespread issue across Canada.

It is a fairly simple motion that asks the standing committee to look at the challenges that are out there and at what can be done to change the regulations. That is our job as legislators, as representatives of individuals right across this country who sometimes suffer severely from these types of episodic disorders.

Before anyone gets the impression that everyone suffers to a great extent, I knew the member and his spouse for a number of months before I realized she had MS. She has had an amazing treatment program in response to her condition, to the point where most people would not recognize there is a challenge for her. Not everyone has that same ability. Not everyone has that same support network. That is what this motion is looking at, bringing it to the standing committee to study it to see what can be done and what can be changed in the regulations, within the health care system, within our disabilities act and within our support systems so that all individuals can lead their lives to the fullest of their abilities.

Oftentimes, we have seen people with disabilities who are set aside. Other times, we see people with disabilities in one area who have an incredible ability in another area. I have a sister who was diagnosed with epilepsy a number of years ago. Through good medication based on good diagnosis, it was under good control. Throughout the years, she led a very productive life as a salesperson, but it was interesting how stress would affect her symptoms and reactions. She learned to manage the stresses. They managed to get her medications under control through proper diagnosis and the proper systems out there. These types of situations are more common that most people realize. There are many people in our communities who have disabilities of some sort, but because they have been able to get the support of family, the health care system, and a proper diagnosis, they are able to lead full and complete lives.

Through our disability tax credits and our recognition of the intermittent nature of these conditions and their effects as episodic disorders, we also need to consider those who do not have that full support. These conditions are not always consistent and are very hard to diagnose. How can we help those people get better diagnoses and better treatment, and better consideration when they are able to contribute to the economy at least part of the time, when they are feeling better and feeling healthy, and recognize that there should not be a light switch that switches them on and off employment insurance or disability insurance and those types of things?

As I mentioned, the member is not directing this bill specifically at any one type of episodic disorder. There are a number of disorders tied into this. For example, there are the symptoms of Parkinson's, epilepsy, and stroke, one of the most common health issues out there. Most people think of a black and white situation when it comes to stroke symptoms, but often people who are able to almost fully recover go back and forth in how well they are able to deal with their daily lives. Again, stress is a big part of reacting to these types of symptoms.

The process of diagnosis and providing support to these people can go to great lengths in relieving stress for those suffering the most and being impacted the most. I truly give credit to the member for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake for his consideration of this.

The challenges faced are insurmountable. Many of these diseases progress gradually. The symptoms in one day, one week or one year can change totally, either in a short period of time or over decades. It is very difficult for the health care system and the employment insurance system to adjust to the types of symptoms, disabilities and challenges presented to patients.

Putting the motion to this committee would provide the committee with the ability to make recommendations to this House. The members of Parliament in that committee could hear from people who have these types of disorders, from people who treat these types of disorders and from people who care for people with these types of episodic disorders. It is only through that type of process that we, as parliamentarians, can get a full understanding of episodic disorders and make recommendations to government on health care regulations, transfers to the provinces and how our tax system could better accommodate these people better through disability tax credits or employment programs so that those struggling with these disabilities and disorders can lead full lives and reduce the stress in their lives so they can continue to be productive.

I know that my time is running close, and we are getting very close to the end of the day and the end of the session before the Thanksgiving break. Before I close, I would just like to say happy Thanksgiving to you, Mr. Speaker, and to all members in the House, and I especially wish a happy Thanksgiving to the member for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake and his spouse, who put this forward.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to the motion brought forward today by the member for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake. This is a very interesting motion.

Our government is committed to protecting and enhancing the rights of people with disabilities, including episodic disabilities, so they can reach their full potential. We recognize the importance of ensuring that Canadians with episodic disabilities get the support they need to stay in the workforce and fully participate in society.

As we prepare for the parliamentary debate on Motion No. 192, the views expressed by community partners and organizations will receive considerable attention. We recently undertook a number of initiatives that should improve the inclusion of people with episodic disabilities. Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, was tabled in Parliament on June 20. It specifically mentions episodic disabilities in its definition of “disability”, to ensure that the specific needs of Canadians with episodic disabilities are considered.

Furthermore, the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability is the first national survey to include a module on episodic disabilities. This data will be invaluable to governments, organizations working with people with disabilities and other stakeholders.

Episodic disabilities are conditions characterized by periods of good health interrupted by periods of illness or disability that may vary in severity, length and predictability. Some common examples of episodic disabilities include multiple sclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, chronic pain and some forms of mental illness.

According to a Social Research and Demonstration Corporation study based on Statistics Canada's 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability, an estimated 3.9% of people aged 15 to 64, a cohort 900,000 strong, claimed to suffer from an episodic disability in 2012. Some 40% of those people described their conditions as serious or very serious. Many episodic disability sufferers are able to work most of the time.

My time is up for now, so I would like to wish all of my colleagues a happy Thanksgiving. I hope that they enjoy every moment spent with their families and return well-rested on October 15.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until Monday, October 15 at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).

I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, as we can give thanks for living in such a wonderful country.

(The House adjourned at 2:16 p.m.)