Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Taylor Bachrach. (Photo submitted)

Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Taylor Bachrach. (Photo submitted)

NDP MP Bachrach hopeful National Disability Act will become a reality

On Oct. 18 the House of Commons unanimously gave Bill C-22 second reading

A federal act to reduce poverty for persons with disabilities and support their financial security has passed second reading to go to the committee stage.

The House of Commons voted to pass the second reading on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Taylor Bachrach said he is happy to see things moving forward.

“The fact it was endorsed unanimously shows this is something that effects people right across the country and it shows that we’ve got to a point where all of the parties see the need for this. It’s taken a lot of work to get there and a lot of pushing on the part of the NDP.”

Bachrach said he has heard from many constituents about the need to provide better supports for people living with disabilities.

“It would be a national benefit to help people with disabilities afford the cost of living,” he told Coast Mountain News Friday, Oct. 21.

The NDP party has been advocating for the act for a long time and the COVID-19 pandemic really highlighted the challenges that people living with disabilities face, he added.

“Over the past months our team, in particular Bonita Zarrillo, the MP for Port Moody Coquitlam, has been working extremely hard to ensure this bill moves forward.”

C-22 is a step forward and creates a framework for a Canada Disability Benefit but it leaves a lot of the most important questions unanswered, Bachrach said.

“We still don’t know who will qualify for the benefit, how much they will receive, or when cheques will be in people’s bank accounts.”

Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion has stated publicly it could take up to three years, which Bachrach said “is not acceptable.”

“People living with disabilities are struggling with the current limited programs offered by provinces and territories which are not indexed to inflation and given the rapid rise of the cost of living folks with disabilities are struggling more than ever.”

When asked if an emergency benefit could be implemented for the interim if it is going to take three years for people to see any additional supports, Bachrach said the NDP’s plan is to finalize the disability benefit as soon as possible while at the same time ensuring that it’s adequate to lift people out of poverty.

“The NDP’s goal is to ensure no one living with a disability also faces the conditions of poverty. In a country like Canada that is simply not acceptable.”

Bachrach said people living with disabilities face extra costs related to specialized equipment, medical expenses and more.

“This is an urgent issue and ultimately an issue of justice for people whose needs have been overlooked for too long. It’s about ensuring dignity and equality for all Canadians.”

Zarrillo sits on the committee that will work on strengthening Bill C-22 and Bachrach is hoping the bill makes its way through parliament and the senate as quickly as possible.

“It’s a pretty uncertain process and a lot of things can happen along the way, but it does seem like there is momentum and the disability community is strongly engaged on this initiative. We are hopeful it will become a reality before too long.”

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