Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour to continue talking about a bill that has a lot of hope in it from Canadians across the country who are living with disabilities. I started yesterday into my speech regarding Bill C-81, which is essentially an accessibility act for all Canadians.
The minister said we would be co-operating and working together, and that her department would provide us with the information that was needed in order to ensure the bill actually delivers for Canadians living with disabilities. Stakeholders from across the country, from all sides of this debate, whether they have hearing or sight disabilities or physical or cognitive disabilities, are all saying the same thing, that the bill is not actually doing anything.
There are no teeth in the bill, and there are no dates to deliver teeth or policies or regulations so that we know what is going to be done to actually help people living with disabilities.
One of the things I said at the first debate we had on this subject and repeated at committee was that my hope for the bill was that at the end of it I would be able to call my mother and tell her how her life is going to change after it is passed.
Unfortunately, all I can do today is call her and tell her that within two years a single regulation will be adopted. That single regulation will trigger a five-year time period, and within that five-year time period the government will then have to report back and essentially do an audit of the regulations it has in place. However, we are not going to see any tangible benefits out of this bill on day one.
We have asked why, and the Liberals have said regulations do not need to be in the bill. The staff in the department and the minister have said we need to consult more. That is not good enough. We have had three years of consultation on this subject. Surely at least one regulation could have come into effect with this accessibility legislation.
The minister said yesterday the good news is there are benchmarks. She said that Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia had put very forward-thinking legislation into place, and she commended their legislation. Their legislation had timelines.
She commends it, and she tells us there is a benchmark and we know what we need to do, but then does not include any of it in the bill, saying we might have one regulation within two years. It is just not good enough for Canadians living with disabilities. It is not good enough for Canadians who are living with either cognitive or physical disabilities.
It is incredible when we start thinking about all the things the most vulnerable in our society have to live and cope with. When we look at the issues of the day, such as Canada Post, we see another barrier put up. With Canada Post union employees going on strike, it creates a barrier for people living with disabilities, who perhaps cannot even get outside of their home to go and collect items they may need.
However, the minister does not put anything in place that will change things as of day one. It is not good enough, and stakeholders know it is not good enough.
Stakeholders were telling us they wanted change. That is why roughly 240 amendments were drafted and submitted. That is why so many amendments were adopted. Unfortunately, they were only from the Liberal side.
However, what the minister, the department and the Liberals on the committee could not understand is that stakeholders want to know when things are going to change. They want measurables in place.
Stakeholders do not just want to see a bunch of employees hired, a building gone, rented or bought, and perhaps a promise of “one day”. They are not looking for a promissory note. The stakeholders are looking for real defined benefits, defined regulations, defined policies that will help them in their day-to-day lives, and that is what the Conservative Party, the New Democrats and the Green Party all tried to do at committee to no avail, because, unfortunately, they were not part of the right party. It is disgusting when we think about the throne speech that we had in this House of Commons by the Prime Minister, which said that all members would be respected no matter where they are from, no matter what party they represent. Unfortunately, that is just not the case. The co-operation that the minister has consistently said would be in place was not.
The answers that the minister said she would be getting for members of the opposition never came. The costs related to these changes were never brought forward. However, if all of the benchmarks are in place in Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia, surely we know what the costs are to make the changes necessary to make lives better for people in Canada who are living with disabilities.
We either have the information or we do not. Yesterday, we were told we had the information. A few weeks ago, we were told we did not. At committee, we were told that we did not. Even when the Liberals do have the information, they say that it is privileged between the cabinet minister and the staff. These are things as simple as whether any timelines were recommended. We could not even get that. The stakeholders are asking these questions one after another. They want to know and need to understand how and when these actions are going to be taken.
I brought something up at committee that the minister was not actually present for, which is normal, and I did not bring it up in a previous speech, but I would like to make sure that this is brought before the House. What happens if a different government is elected? What happens if there is no minister who is like-minded on this issue?
One of the things the Conservative Party was asking for was to put measurables in place to ensure that there would be follow-through from successive governments. The current government's mandate ends in less than one year. Unfortunately, by not putting measurables in place, by not having a time by which all of these things need to be completed, by not putting a target in place for a barrier-free Canada, we do not know when or how this proposed legislation could fall off the road. This means there is a lack of accountability contained within legislation, because the government wants to avoid being accountable for real results. However, it would not just affect the current government but all governments going forward. If there is not a like-minded government going forward, that means there is a potential for it to completely collapse, and we do not want this to collapse.
We like the fact that there is an accessibility act coming forward. We supported the fact that there was an accessibility act coming forward. We championed an accessibility act coming forward. We requested that it be brought forward as soon as possible when it became very clear that the six-month timeline that the government put in order to provide the legislation to the House for persons in Canada with disabilities was not coming forward. We asked where it was. Why was it not here yet? We knew the work had been done. The Liberals told us they had been consulting for over a year. They told us they were consulting for over two years, and yet still we did not have legislation in front of us.
What happens if it is not the mindset that is provided by the government today, the mindset that is provided in the Conservative benches opposite? There is a real possibility that the intent of this legislation would fall off the road just so the government could avoid the accountability of providing real results for real Canadians living with real disabilities. It is just shameful that a government would walk away from its responsibility to be accountable to Canadians who are taking care of the most vulnerable and accountable to the most vulnerable themselves. It is absolutely shameful.
Going forward, we know that there need to be changes. Therefore, I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, be not now read a third time, but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities for the purpose of reconsidering:
a. clauses 5, 11, 18, 23, 111 and 148 with the view to include dates and timelines to ensure that the Bill will advance accessibility in Canada;
b. clauses 15, 75, 93 and 95 with the view to remove permissive language to ensure that accessibility requirements are made and enforced;
c. clauses 46, 55, 59, 64, and 68 with the view to not allow organizations to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements; and
d. clause 207 with the view to require the government to act.