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Bill C-399: A “safety net” that projects compassion and strength for Canadians with disabilities

This proposed legislation has the power to bring parliament together, bettering the lives of thousands of Canadians.

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be accurate.

Wyatt Claypool Montreal, QC

The Fairness For Persons with Disabilities Act (Bill C-399) pushed by Conservative MPs David Yurdiga, and Tom Kmiec seeks to accommodate Canadians living with mental and physical ailments better, including those with Phenylketonuria (PKU) and Diabetes.

Kmiec, like Yurdiga, who has been pushing for regulatory changes to disability assistance since submitting his private members’ motion (PMM 192) last year in parliament, sees the need for a better “safety net.”

Both propose better financial supplements as well as reducing eligibility requirements for at-risk and vulnerable Canadians.

Notably, Bill C-399 would reduce the required hours of therapy for a patient to be eligible for a tax credit. In changing the parameters from 14 hours to ten hours per week, those who suffer from episodic disabilities like multiple sclerosis, or face limitations in accessing the Disability Tax Credits due to the time they must take off work, would face less of a pinch financially.

According to estimates by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PMO), the proposed changes would make 35,000 additional claimants eligible for the tax credits each year, with 22,000 expected to make assistance claims each tax year.

During a parliamentary session in March 2018, Kmiec spoke for those writing to him in support of Bill C-399, saying that, “[My constituents] want to protect diabetics and patients with rare diseases so they can apply for the disability tax credit. They want to ensure that they receive the benefits they deserve and are entitled to.”

The Fairness For Persons with Disabilities Act would also allow for the time taken to measure and balance nutrition content for dietary disorders as part of the time in therapy.

In an interview with The Post Millennial, Yurdiga explained that people who suffer from disorders like PKU, have to “weigh [their] food very carefully, which takes a lot of time to do if you are mixing different foods to get to the right dosage. All of those things were not allowed to be included in the [therapy] calculation,” clearly showing the gaps in the current disability legislation Tom and himself are trying to fill.

The PMO stated that Bill C-399 would only cost Candian taxpayers $39 million annually, of which $25 million would be incurred from lost tax revenue by those newly qualified for assistance.

When speaking about the cost of Bill C-399, Yurdiga emphasized the meagre cost of his proposed legislation regarding what he called the Liberal government’s “corporate welfare.”

“We’re trying to make sure that Canadians are getting ahead while liberals are making sure that their corporate friends get ahead…We’re trying to leave money in the pockets of people with disabilities who are trying to make ends meet,” Yurdiga explained.

Their continued advocacy of episodic disabilities and other ailments facilitates much-needed discussions on the difficulties patients face. Given the symptoms are not always visible, it can be hard to portray the needs of vulnerable populations.

First-hand experiences inspired Yurdiga’s private member’s motion with episodic disabilities. His wife, Kathy, has multiple sclerosis, and their daughter is diagnosed with epilepsy.

As for Kmiec’s inspiration, he states, “My three little kids have a rare kidney condition called Alport syndrome, so I’ve always been paying attention to the different costs associated with living with a rare disease. My oldest son has hearing aids, my youngest son is probably going to get hearing aids, and my youngest daughter passed away. She had lots of other medical conditions while she was alive. So I have always been involved in trying to figure out how to make life more affordable for people with disabilities.”

Kmiec has worked closely with the MS Society, and other like groups, where they hold an advisory role in helping shape his legislation on disabilities.

The Fairness for Persons with Disabilities Act seems like a common-sense move, and the motives and financials behind it are nothing but responsible and researched.

But beyond its logistics, the continued advocacy projects compassion and strength.

This proposed legislation has the power to bring parliament together, bettering the lives of thousands of Canadians.

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Wyatt Claypool
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