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QUESTION PERIOD — Employment and Social Development

Progress of Legislation

June 1, 2023

Senator Gold, my question is for you. Bill C-22, the Canada disability benefit act, arrived in the Senate. Even before the bill arrived, we were receiving calls, emails and messages urging us to pass the bill swiftly regardless of its shortcomings. The message was clear: The issue of poverty for people living with disabilities was urgent and pressing. Minister Qualtrough herself said that:

With Bill C-22, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a new benefit that will lift many working-age Canadians with disabilities out of poverty. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to keep the momentum up. In Canada, no person with a disability should live in poverty.

We gave the bill careful scrutiny and amended it to make it stronger.

Despite assertions that Bill C-22 is a priority for the government and given the opportunity to pass this stronger iteration of Bill C-22 with haste, why is it not yet on the projected order of business for the other place?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for your question and for underlining the importance of Bill C-22 and of getting it to Royal Assent so that those who stand to benefit and who need the benefits will receive them and the framework — once in place — can then give rise to the programming that follows.

It remains a government priority. This is a minority Parliament. There are days that are not devoted to government business. This chamber should rest assured that the government has taken the time to consider the Senate amendments, is giving them due consideration and is working with the other parties in the house such that this bill can go through the final phases and receive Royal Assent.

Thank you for that, Senator Gold.

Do you have any information or can you shed any light on when exactly we are likely to see Bill C-22 coming back to us so that people with disabilities can be pulled out of poverty?

Senator Gold [ + ]

I do not have information at this juncture. When I do find out, I will be sharing it with the leaders and, as is my practice, with any interested senators so that we will know when and if we will receive it, by the way, because the amendments are still being studied. I will resist the opportunity to say that it would have received Royal Assent had we not amended it, but the Senate did its work and now we have to see how the House of Commons, the government and the other opposition parties respond to our amendments. As soon as I know more, I will certainly share it with the chamber.

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