November 10, 2015
To the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,
On behalf of Independent Living Canada, its members, and on behalf of every person living with a disability, I would like to extend our sincere congratulations for your election as Prime Minister. I also wanted to congratulate you for appointing two ministers living with a disability.
Independent Living Canada is an organization helping and encouraging people living with disabilities to take control of their own lives. Our vision for Canada is that we become an inclusive and accessible society where people with disabilities are valued equally and participate fully.
By appointing Carla Qualtrough, a former Paralympics athlete born with a visual deficiency, and Kent Hehr, who was paralysed at 19 years old after being hit by a drive-by shooter, you are leading by example showing Canadians the importance of focusing on a person’s abilities, instead of his or her disability.
We trust that you chose Mr Hehr for his capacities to lead the veteran affairs and for being an associate minister of national defence, and that you selected Ms Qualtrough for her abilities to lead the ministries of sport and of persons with disabilities.
Mr Hehr and Ms Qualtrough should serve as an inspiration to all Canadians. Their conditions never stopped them from dreaming big and making great accomplishments. By appointing them, you proved that their abilities were not overshadowed by their disabilities.
People with disabilities represent approximately 14% of the Canadian population and they are twice as likely to live in poverty as their non-disabled counterparts. Unfortunately, this topic has not been much discussed during the election campaign, but we look forward to engage with you and your government on the barriers for people with disabilities.
We certainly hope you will deliver on the promise you made to invest $750M in training programs, which will include, as you stated it, an increased participation of underrepresented groups, such as people living with disabilities.
We would also like to invite you to make the Disability Tax credit refundable for every person living with a disability. As it stands, this tax credit is of no assistance for 2/3 of the demographic about 750,000 because they are not earning enough money. This reform would extend a modest annual amount of financial support to many of the lowest income earners in Canada and create new opportunities for inclusion and participation.
Mr Trudeau, you and your team can count on our expertise and collaboration to work with you in advancing and fixing these issues affecting many of Canada’s most vulnerable people.
I look forward to meeting and working with your team soon, on behalf of the Board of directors