The Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced support to help Canadians with disabilities deal with extra expenses during the pandemic.
This support includes a special one-time, tax-free payment to individuals who are certifcateholders of the Disability Tax Credit as of June 1, 2020, as follows: – $600 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate. – $300 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension. – $100 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the OAS pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
There are also supports to do with employment as those with disabilities are also at higher risk of job loss during economic downturns. – Creation of a National workplace Accessibility Stream through the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities. – Invest $1.18 million in five new projects across the country through the Accessible Technology Program.
May 6, 2020 – Ottawa, ON – Louise
Gillis, National President of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), today
released the findings of the CCB’s recent Survey on the Impact of the COVID-19
Pandemic on Canadians Who Are Blind, Deaf-Blind, and Partially-Sighted, which
was conducted from April 7th to 14th.
The report’s objective was to provide
recommendations to our federal, provincial, and municipal governments in order
to assist them in creating policies to support those living with vision loss
during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey received a robust sample of 572 responses,
with respondents representing all provinces. The results paint a
disturbing picture of the experience of Canada’s vision loss community during
from her home in Nova Scotia, Gillis spoke of the need for government to
recognize the circumstances presently impacting all Canadians with
disabilities, but specifically the over 1,560,000 Canadians living with vision
loss. “The vision loss community was too often marginalized and already socially
and economically depressed prior to the arrival of the pandemic,” said Gillis,
noting that, “the present situation has only served to magnify those barriers
Key results of the study
showed high levels of stress in the vision loss community. Respondents are very
concerned about social distancing – they’re unable to see how far they are from
others and are concerned that others don’t realize that they have vision loss
and tend to come too close. Respondents feel unsafe when going out.
Those living with vision
loss are particularly concerned that the effect of the added stress from the
pandemic on their mental health may cause them to become overwhelmed.
Survey respondents are
stressed about their inability to access a doctor or health care practitioner and
to meet their financial obligations, and about their ability to maintain their
present standard of living. They’re further stressed due to their
already-fragile economic status.
Respondents also expressed
concern about having transportation and finding someone to accompany them
should they have to go to the doctor or hospital.
Shopping is a concern as
plexiglass shields make it difficult to negotiate payment and those with seeing
disabilities are uncomfortable interacting with staff. About half of the
respondents indicated that they had a personal care worker entering their home,
about half of whom weren’t wearing proper personal protective equipment.
Respondents are concerned
that when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, they’ll discover that their job no
longer exists. Many who were asked to work from home have discovered that they
don’t have the proper accessible devices and technology necessary to do their
jobs from home, and that their employers have refused to provide or fund them.
The survey succeeded at
identifying the challenges confronting those living with vision loss during the
COVID-19 crisis. As Respondent 211 commented, “What’s affecting my mental
health is this prolonged and extreme isolation. As a blind person, I
already live a fairly limited life when referring to freedom of movement and
independence and now even that small wedge of my active life has been
completely eradicated.” It’s
clear that the vision loss community is being heavily impacted by the pandemic.
It’s further evident that there’s a need for immediate action from
all levels of government to provide support and solutions to help those living with vision loss get through
these stressful times. The CCB’s resulting report includes detailed
recommendations for all levels of government to consider.
“We must ensure
that those with disabilities aren’t left behind and that they have the urgent
support they need,” said Gillis. “Leadership must come from
the top down, and therefore we’re counting on the federal government to take
the lead role in providing the guidance and financial support to provinces to
make sure that all Canadians with disabilities, and especially those with
vision loss, have access to the needed programs and solutions.”
Michael Baillargeon, CCB Senior Advisor, Government Relations and
Special Projects, [email protected],
ABOUT THE CCB
The CCB is the Voice of the Blind™ in Canada.
Founded 75 years ago in 1944 by returning blind veterans and schools of the
blind, the CCB is a membership-based registered charity that brings together
Canadians who are blind, living with vision loss, or deaf-blind through
chapters within their own local communities that provide the opportunity to
share common interests and social activities.
The CCB works tirelessly to
improve the quality of life of people with vision loss through advocacy and its
dedication to building public awareness, improving the well-being of people
with seeing disabilities, and promoting and providing a better understanding
of, and solutions for, the barriers faced by those living with vision loss, all
while promoting the fact that a lack of sight is not a lack of vision.
The CCB is proud of these efforts
to change what it means to be blind, and of its success in partnering and
building relationships with other national and international organizations of
and for the blind. Most importantly, the CCB is proud of its leadership role
through initiatives that call for access to accessible, assistive technology,
the provision of the very best in available medical treatments, and the
fostering of patients’ rights, all while recognizing that blindness and vision
loss are avoidable.
As you may be aware, the Canadian Council of the Blind
(CCB) conducted a survey over the period April 7 to April 14 to determine the
impact that the COVID-19 pandemic was having on Canadians who are blind,
deaf-blind or partially sighted. The objective of the survey was to provide
recommendations to the federal, provincial and municipal governments in order
to assist them in creating policies to support those living with disabilities
during this time of COVID–19.
In the short time the survey was open responses were
received from 572 members of the vision loss community and yes we have heard
your voices. We were delighted and a little overwhelmed with the thorough, thoughtful
and heart felt emotion projected in your responses. The robustness of this sample
means that our survey will be considered to be truly reflective of the concerns
of our community at this time.
On behalf of the CCB, I would like to thank those who
participated in the survey, for providing us with your concerns and insights
and for enabling us to assemble a number of substantial recommendations for
government. Without your quick response, this report would not have happened
within the short timeframe essential to make our recommendations meaningful.
These recommendations are included in the full report available at the link
below. The report is fully accessible, and after reviewing it you may comment
on its results, by emailing; [email protected]
Once again, on behalf of CCB, I would like to thank you for participating. Please stay safe and healthy. Do your best to follow local COVID-19 guidelines and shelter in place to the extent possible.
Louise Gillis National President, Canadian Council of the Blind
On Thursday April 23rd 2020, the World Blind Union joins UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the rest of the world to observe World Book and Copyright Day, also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Day. The focus this year is “Books: A Window into the World during Covid-19”.
According to the United Nations, “Now more than ever, at a time when globally most schools are closed and people are having to limit time spent out of their homes, the power of books can be leveraged to combat isolation, to reinforce ties between people, and to expand our horizons, while stimulating our minds and creativity”.
The World Blind Union takes this opportunity to commend all persons and organizations who have made reading materials freely available electronically and would like to encourage more of this globally. This is of great benefit to persons with disabilities, especially blind and partially sighted persons and otherwise print disabled. If properly done, it will provide them access to variety and more current reading material. Also, this can greatly reduce the likelihood of them halting their studies because of limited or no access to information and will create avenues to keep them meaningfully occupied in order to decrease the possible psychological impact of Covid-19.
However, we are calling on governments, educational institutions, service providers and other stakeholders, to ensure that the material made available electronically such as books, Covid-19 related and other information, and online schooling are fully accessible to all. Parents, guardians and teachers who are blind or partially sighted need to have fully accessible information and material so that they can provide adequate support to their children and students. As well, students who are blind, partially sighted or otherwise print disabled must have fully accessible information and material to allow them an equal opportunity for learning alongside sighted peers at their level.
As the world develops strategies to cope with the effects of this pandemic and to eventually eradicate it, WBU will continue to advocate on behalf of our members for inclusive response. Our aim is to ensure that persons with disabilities, especially those who are blind, partially sighted and otherwise print disabled are not deprived of their rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Marrakesh Treaty; and that they remain on governments’ agenda as they continue to strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at www.worldblindunion.org
Barrier free Canada – Canada
sans barrières congratulates the government on the formation of an advisory
group to take action on issues relating to Canadians with disabilities
We are very pleased to congratulate Minister Qualtrough on the initiative to establish this very important advisory group as there are many Canadians with disabilities who are quite concerned over how their needs and requirements are going to be met. From concerns over health issues, to financial issues, to scoial distancing, and more.
We believe that
each time that the government rolls out any type of initiative to help combat
COVID-19, the voices, needs, and concerns of Canadians with disabilities must
also be included.
While the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group (CDAG) includes strong repesentation from a cross-section of the disability community, it is important that the individuals appointed to the CDAG actually be representatives on behalf of their constituents, and not merely of the organizations with which they are affiliated.
all those sitting as representatives on the CDAG to engage in broad and
inclusive consultation with their respective communities, to ensure that a
broad spectrum of views and experiences are considered.