STANDING COMMITTEE ON HUMAN
RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT AND THE STATUS OF PERSONS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DU
DÉVELOPPEMENT DES RESSOURCES
HUMAINES ET DE LA CONDITION DES PERSONNES HANDICAPÉES
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Thursday, December 2, 1999
The Chair (Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.)):
Okay, colleagues, we'll begin.
I'd like to welcome you all to this meeting of the
Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and
the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
We went to some trouble to get this meeting on
television in order to give some profile to the issues
we're dealing with.
I want to point out to you that although by that
entrance this room is not accessible, it is in fact
accessible by the door behind me, and security at the
main door and various other points have been advised of
that. So we are in fact in an accessible room. That's
very important, but as I think we all agreed, it was
also important that we should be on television, and
we're in this room because this is where we're able to
be on TV with these issues. That's one.
Secondly, I would like to say something to our
members, and I would ask the forgiveness of our
witnesses for a moment. At the present time we don't
have a meeting next Tuesday. It's my view that we
should not. A week today we will be meeting with the
minister. I would suggest that our Subcommittee on
Children and Youth at Risk be able to take our time
spot on Tuesday. I think there will be a good deal
of interest in their meeting. I would certainly
suggest that as many of our members as possible attend
Because they likely will meet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.,
the clerk advises me, in a round-table format, they
have asked that they be able to provide lunch. As you
all know, but as our viewers may not know, we need a
motion to that effect. So I would like somebody to
move that the committee authorize the chair of the
Subcommittee on Children and Youth at Risk to take the
appropriate measures to provide lunch for working
purposes—this suggests, I think, that he will go and
prepare it—for its round table scheduled for December
7, 1999, and that the cost of this lunch be charged to
the budget of the main committee.
So moved by Carolyn Bennett.
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: I would repeat, although it's not a
meeting of the regular committee, this is an important
round table of one of our two subcommittees, and I
would urge members to consider attending that
I've mentioned already that a week today we'll be
meeting with the minister. People know of that.
I'd also mention that, as I think you know, one of our
colleagues, Bonnie Brown, who is the parliamentary
secretary to the Minister of Human Resources
Development, her husband died recently. I know
colleagues have written and corresponded with her
individually, but I would like to suggest that the
committee send a token, perhaps some flowers, to
Bonnie. Again, procedurally I need a motion to that
So moved by Larry McCormick.
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: On your behalf, I would express our
regrets to Bonnie. As we all know, she's had a very,
very difficult time for the last year or so.
Our principal item of business today is, pursuant to
Standing Order 108(2), a status report on the report
Reflecting Interdependence: Disability, Parliament,
Government and the Community. This is one of the
important reports produced by a subcommittee of this
committee. We've received the official response. I
think we all have a copy of it.
We are pleased to have, representing the department,
Susan Scotti, associate assistant deputy minister,
human resources and investment branch; Victor
Rabinovitch, assistant deputy minister, income
securities program; Phil Jensen, director general,
social policy; and Mary Glen, director general, social
We welcome you all here. We are in your hands for the
time being. I would assume you have a presentation of
some sort. Would you please proceed?
Ms. Susan Scotti (Associate Assistant Deputy
Minister, Human Resources Investment Branch, Department
of Human Resources Development): Good morning, and
thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. We very much
appreciate the opportunity to meet with the Standing
Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status
of Persons with Disabilities.
You've named the colleagues who are with me at the
table. I'd just like to mention a few of our other
officials who are in the room, and we can provide the
exact titles to the recorder afterwards. We have Eva
Berringer, Lula Fairfield, David Cogliati,
Nancy Lawand, and Doug Taylor along with us this
morning to help provide some additional technical
information if it's necessary.
The Chair: Susan, we welcome all your colleagues
Ms. Susan Scotti: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you for coming.
Ms. Susan Scotti: The Minister of Human Resources Development,
the Honourable Jane Stewart, will appear before you on December 9
to discuss the response to your sixth report entitled: Reflecting
Independence: Disability, Parliament, Government and the Community.
She will talk to you about the general approach and direction of
the government with respect to persons with disabilities.
Today Victor and I have agreed to provide a technical
briefing to you about where we've come from and where
we're going on some key disability issues. I will
therefore focus my opening statement on some of the
developments around the government's disability agenda
since the former minister met with the committee last
March and since the report of the committee was
released in June. Victor will also provide a few
opening remarks on the Canada Pension Plan.
As you highlighted in your report, there have been
numerous studies and recommendations on disability over
the past two decades. These have helped shape the way
we view disability and our approach to providing
programs and services.
The 1996 Scott report of the federal task force on
disability looked at the federal role and at the
actions necessary to ensure full citizenship for
persons with disabilities. This led to a series of
concrete initiatives. To name a few, these include the
opportunities fund, the agreements with the provinces
under the employability assistance for people with
disabilities initiative, tax measures in the 1997 and
1998 budgets that better recognize the costs of
disability, and changes to the Canadian Human Rights
Act and other legislation to add a duty of
Perhaps more important, the Scott report set
the stage for the work with provinces and territories,
which led to In Unison, the vision and
framework for government action on disability. In
Unison is very much based on a vision of full
citizenship. It recognizes that achieving this vision
is a shared responsibility between government and
all sectors of society.
Building on In Unison, Human Resources
Development has been leading work with other federal
departments and agencies—about thirty of them all
together—to look at key areas where the federal
government needs to take action to move forward on this
The Subcommittee on the Status of Persons with
Disabilities played an important role in this exercise
by focusing attention on issues faced by Canadians with
disabilities. It highlighted some of the challenges
facing public policy developers. It helped to coalesce
the government's agenda around some strategic
directions shared by provinces and territories, the
committee, and the disability community. This agenda
was reflected in the document Future Directions to
Address Disability Issues for the Government of
Canada, which was released by the former Minister of
Human Resources Development last July.
So the foundation has been laid. There are strong
legal protections. There is a program framework and
there are investments to build on. There's a
commitment to act by governments. There's agreement on
a pan-Canadian vision and policy framework to shape
those actions as they are reflected in In Unison.
The objectives of the government's agenda are very
much inclusion and participation. The initiatives are
designed to overcome attitudinal and systemic barriers,
to develop a coherent approach to programs and
services, and to plan and develop future action on key
issues such as disability and income supports and
labour market approaches.
The elements of the agenda include increased public
accountability and improved policy and program
coherence; the development of an up-to-date and
comprehensive base of data and knowledge to inform
public policy; stronger capacity in the community to
meet the needs of people with disability; addressing
the needs of aboriginal people, where the incidence of
disability is twice the national average; improved
employability; improved access to income and disability
supports; and reduced injury and disease that can cause
The government's intent had been to move forward as
resources become available, but to avoid any loss of
time, the minister asked in the spring that resources
be reallocated within the department to allow work to
proceed on research and data gathering, on
accountability, and on disability supports. That work
has continued, and, for example, preparatory work for
the Health and Activities Limitation Survey that will
be done by Statistics Canada in 2001 has been launched.
Consultations were held with provinces, territories,
disability organizations, and the private sector
throughout the summer and early fall. Similar
discussions were pursued with other government
departments and agencies as well. There's very broad
support for this survey.
Similarly, resources were made available so other
longitudinal surveys could be strengthened to include
disability—for example, the survey of labour and
income dynamics, the national population health
survey, the national longitudinal survey of
children, and the aboriginal peoples survey.
Together, these will give us a much clearer picture of
persons with disabilities in Canada.
We are also continuing work with the provinces and the
territories on an accountability framework linked to the In Unison
report and on an Internet site which is named "Links—Persons with
Disabilities—Handicapped Persons". In September, there was a round
of discussions in Toronto with experts and representatives of the
national and provincial associations of persons with disabilities,
and with the federal, provincial and territorial governments.
It was indeed very helpful that a member of your
research staff, Bill Young, who's with
us this morning, was able to attend and to share the
results of your round table on outcomes. The purpose
was to discuss and further develop elements of an
accountability framework, including regular reporting
to the public on disability issues, access and
inclusion lenses, and public engagement processes. All
participants considered this a good session and a good
Ministers of social services approved these elements
of an accountability framework when they met last
October. They announced that disability links will be
launched in the spring of 2000. Deputy ministers have
tasked officials with the development of options for
future work to achieve the In Unison vision.
Complementary work is being pursued with other federal
departments and agencies to develop a framework for
reporting on federal programs and services for persons
On the question of disability supports, the government
has issued an invitation to provinces and territories
to conduct joint work to improve access to
and portability of disability supports. We would also
like to develop a labour market strategy with provinces
I'd just like to highlight very briefly some other
specific program initiatives. Agreements for employability
assistance for people with disabilities exist
with all provinces. Under these agreements, $192
million is transferred each year to provinces to
support their programs that are designed to help people
with disabilities to secure employment. These are
being implemented and a multilateral accountability
framework is being developed to measure the outcomes
and to highlight successes and best practices in
Work with provincial and territorial colleagues and
national aboriginal organizations continues on a
national children's agenda that is broad and inclusive
and that is designed to improve the well-being and
development of all children. The government wants to
identify opportunities to include children with
disabilities. Representatives from national disability
organizations working with children have been active in
the consultations that have taken place to date.
Funding to the disability community for both
organizations and projects is ongoing and represents
about $12 million a year. This includes funding for
the community inclusion initiative for intellectually
disabled people. The Opportunities Fund was
launched in 1997 and has been successful in helpful
persons with disabilities prepare for, secure, and keep
jobs. About 24,900 people have participated in the
program. It concludes March 31, 2000, but we remain
very hopeful the OF will be renewed. It is a key
element in the development of a broader, longer-term,
labour market strategy for persons with disabilities.
Confirmation of renewal will have to await the budget.
Victor will elaborate in a few minutes on the
measures that are being put in place under the Canada
Pension Plan to help Canadians with disability return
to work and improve the appeals process.
I'm just going to conclude by giving you a picture of
some of the work that is going on across the government
to launch the government agenda as resources become
Treasury Board and the National Research Council
have set up a task force at the level of assistant
deputy ministers to look at how we can better use new
technologies to support employees with disabilities in
the public service. Health Canada is pursuing injury
and disease prevention, particularly in those areas
where the incidence is so high among aboriginal
people. Fetal alcohol syndrome and diabetes are particular
issues that are challenging us.
Initiatives are being explored and developed with the
private sector to identify ingredients for successful
integration into the workplace and to surface and
promote the best practices across the private sector.
Similarly, we are working with Industry Canada,
regional and business development agencies, and
entrepreneurs with disabilities to identify ways to
improve opportunities and to reduce the risks for other
potential entrepreneurs. Efforts are under way as well
to better manage disability issues across government,
as the committee has recommended and as reflected in
the government's response to the committee's report.
We will be focusing on the development of access and
inclusion lenses and better public reporting, focusing
first on improving existing mechanisms before turning
to new ones.
I know there have been concerns around the scope and
pace of the government's agenda. Significant strides,
however, have been made and continue to be made. There
has been very consistent ministerial support, and the
role of this committee has been very helpful in
sustaining the profile on the social agenda and could
continue to do so as we focus on accountability and
As you know, real systemic changes can occur only in
collaboration with provinces and territories,
especially around disability supports, income and
employment. So while the groundwork has been laid and
will continue, the pace of implementing the disability
agenda will continue also to be influenced by the
availability of additional resources.
Now I'd like to give the floor to my colleague Victor
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch (Assistant Deputy Minister, Income
Security Programs, Department of Human Resources Development):
Thank you, Susan.
Mr. Chairman, I appeared with my colleagues before the Sub-
committee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities last May to
discuss with the members the CPP disability plan process and to
explain how we were dealing with the high volume of appeals. I also
provided, last May, information on the new methods that we were
about to implement.
Today I hope to answer your questions regarding our efforts to
improve service to CPP disability clients. I'd also like to share
with you the plan for a more client-centred approach to the
administration of the programs that we have developed. I think that
this approach will improve the climate of trust among our clientele
Allow me to give you an overview of the situation. I would
like to draw your attention to the chart that we distributed before
the meeting. This chart depicts how 100 applicants typically move
through the various levels of the CPPD program. While the focus of
my remarks today is not on numbers, but on quality, I know that for
some of you this overview may be useful.
In terms of the scope of the CPPD program, it is now the
largest disability benefit program in Canada. It serves 280,000
clients and makes payments of almost $2.5 billion per year. This
year we will receive about 65,000 applications.
Some of you are aware that HRDC is responsible for the two
initial steps: the application and the reconsideration stages. The
reconsideration stage is the first level of appeal.
The chart that we have distributed shows that over 90% of the
applications are finalized within these two stages, which are
managed by the department. Two arm's length bodies deal with
appeals that go further. The review tribunal is responsible for the
second level of appeal. The third level appeal is to the Pension
Appeals Board, a quasi-judicial body made up of judges and former
That describes the basic overview of the CPP
disability process. Let me spend a few moments just
describing the current situation.
There's no doubt, Mr. Chairman, that the CPP
disability program was facing some real challenges only
a few years ago. In 1996 the Auditor General raised
a number of concerns. Since that time we have made
some major improvements to the operation of the
program. You may have noticed that on Tuesday, when
the Auditor General tabled his current report, he made
some very positive comments on the progress we've
achieved. The Auditor General's report says we have
moved on all of the 1996 recommendations. While all of
them are not yet fully implemented, we have made
significant progress on all. Several—in fact the
majority—are virtually fully implemented.
Let me mention some of the measures we've taken,
not since 1996, but rather in the last six months,
since my colleagues and I had the opportunity to be at
the subcommittee meeting.
We have accelerated client service in this period, and
we are making more contact with clients. We have done
so by increasing the regional adjudication staff. We've
been doing that over several years. In the last six
months we have reassigned more experienced staff at
the national level to be available to assist with the
adjudication of claims. This results in faster
Since April and May of this year, we have also begun
testing a new approach that emphasizes early personal
contact with applicants, and also with appellants.
Previously we had relied totally on written appeals.
We are now dealing, through the pilot approach, with
oral contact and verbal contact.
As a second significant change during this current
year, the review tribunal is hearing far more cases.
Additional panel members have been appointed to the
review tribunals, and the average waiting time for a
review tribunal case has now decreased from eight
months to six and a half months.
I really want to compliment someone who isn't here
today. Peter Smith, the commissioner of the review
tribunals, and his staff have really done an excellent
job on the administration side of the tribunal.
A third change and improvement during the current year
is at the Pension Appeals Board. More judges have
been added, with 10 additional judges announced just
last week. The total number of judges now is 64, which
is an all-time high. The judges at the Pension
Appeals Board have begun a blitz process to deal with
leave to appeal. Last year and during the current
year they processed over 2,000 requests for leave
to appeal. There, too, I think a compliment is owed to
Judge Poulin, the chair, and Judge Rutherford,
the assistant chair, as well as the executive director,
Barbara Naegele. They have done a terrific job at
the PAB in this recent time.
A fourth thing I would mention is that we have
begun exploring and are developing plans now on the
simplification of the appeals process. I would be glad
to talk a bit more about that through the period of
A fifth thing I'd like to mention is that we are
taking further steps now to decentralize further the
appeal process, particularly the process that deals
with reassessment of individuals who are now on CPP
disability. We pilot-tested that last year in New
Brunswick and Ontario. The pilots were successful, and
we're proceeding now with further
decentralization of reassessment.
A sixth point I'd like to mention is our work
with partners and the sharing of information with
partners, and particularly workers' compensation boards
in five provinces: Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick,
P.E.I., and Manitoba. We have also offered to the
compensation boards in all the other provinces that we
would be prepared to get into information sharing with
them. We also do information sharing on return-to-work
Lastly, a seventh initiative during the current year
is one that deals with quality assurance. We are
taking new administrative steps to ensure the quality
across the country for the disability program and
Let me conclude, Mr. Chairman, by just saying a
few words about where we want to go. I think we
have succeeded in laying the groundwork for changes in
the way we do service delivery and for improvements in
that service delivery. We recently briefed our
minister, the Honourable Jane Stewart, about these
proposed changes. She is very supportive, and she
specifically asked that we share information with the
members of this committee. We'd like to do that. And
if you wish, we'd also be prepared to come back to the
subcommittee on disability if they wish to get into
much further detail about these things.
Basically, we want to talk about ideas before they are
implemented and we want to get feedback before we
proceed with the administrative changes. Our general
approach is one of developing a client-centred,
case-management system. We want to be able to deal
with people early, in a personalized manner, as they
first apply for the disability program, and we want to
maintain contact with them throughout the process of
that disability program even if they are not admitted
into the program. Through personal contact, we then
may be able to refer them to where they may be able to
get assistance elsewhere.
Let me just say in conclusion, Mr. Chairman, that
through questions here and perhaps questions at the
disability subcommittee, we would be very glad not only
to share information but to seek ideas.
Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you both for that.
As you know,
we have re-established the subcommittee, and we look
forward to further work producing material of the
quality that the previous subcommittee did.
To my colleagues, I have a list here that already has
ten people, excluding the chair, assuming that you can
exclude the chair. I mentioned that I am quite willing
to stay here until question period if we have to, but
you realize that ten times five minutes is fifty minutes, so
I'm going to try to keep the flow going.
Just so you know the order in which I have you down, I
have Carolyn Bennett, Maurice Vellacott, Karen Redman,
Wendy Lill, Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral, Rey Pagtakhan,
Jean Dubé, Bryon Wilfert, Judy Sgro, and Larry
McCormick, in that order.
We now have the chair of the subcommittee, Carolyn
Mrs. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.): Thank you,
I'm sure my colleagues will have lots of questions on
the Opportunities Fund and CPP, so I will try to
stay in the big picture.
As you know, we're worried in terms of these
horizontal issues. All of the things that are
multi-jurisdictional seem to have meant to Canadians
that nothing happens. If it's all in your area, you do
it; if you have to get consensus, it's much tougher.
Just describe the Office of Disability Issues to
me. What kind of staffing do you have, what kind of
funding do you have, and are you actually able to bash
together the heads of all the other ministries to make
sure something happens?
The second part is that it says in the Speech from the
Throne that the issue of Canadians with disabilities
will be put through the social union organization. How
far ahead are we on that, and is that really going to
happen? That would be my first little tiny question.
The Chair: Carolyn, there are two routes. One is
that you could ask everything now. That, by the way,
was a minute and ten seconds.
Mrs. Carolyn Bennett: That was pretty good.
From the committee's point of view, we obviously want
to know more on the commitment of outcomes and Treasury
Board, and that we're going to report to Canadians on
how we're doing on these things. How are we going to
set the outcomes or the performance indicators?
As you know, we had some discomfort with some of the
performance indicators that looked at how often people
get a busy signal instead of whether they're
income-secure. I think we want to know how you are
going to be able to use the committee and use the
disability community, which is extremely knowledgeable
on this, to actually make sure that when we go to the
business of setting outcomes and commitments and
performance indicators, something happens.
The one other big-picture thing that I'm worried is
percolating along is Judge La Forest's review of the
Canadian Human Rights Act. What have you done to make
sure that the disability community is included and that
a really proactive result will come from that review?
The Chair: Susan Scotti.
Ms. Susan Scotti: Thank you, Ms. Bennett, for all
those very good questions. Let me start with the first
one, with regard to horizontality.
Government's a big machine, and it's difficult and
challenging to pull all of the pieces together, but I
think there is a very strong recognition amongst all of
us, as public officials, that there are no longer
single-bullet solutions. We have to work together
collectively, in partnership, to really effect the most
appropriate solutions to some very complex problems.
So there is this mindset that we can achieve more if we
work together and that is very supportive of the work
we need to do on disability.
The disability issues office is one part of the
department that really is responsible for coordination
and policy support, but we draw on many other parts of
the Department of Human Resources Development. The
disability issues office is getting strengthened. We're
adding staff, and we're adding staff who will have a
particular focus on the outreach activities and the
interdepartmental work that is going to be necessary in
pulling the agenda together.
At the same time, we have a very active policy branch
that works in partnership with us and the insurance
program. The department itself is very conscious that
it needs to take a very integrated approach to
responding to disability issues from all perspectives,
whether it's policy development or program development.
I'm going to let Phil Jensen continue—
The Chair: We'd like to keep the pace up, please.
Just keep it moving.
Ms. Susan Scotti: I guess I'll have to talk a
little faster, Mr. Chairman.
The Chair: I'm just warning people, because I know
what happens at the end: there are colleagues waiting
and they lose their turn. That's really what happens,
Susan. Just keep the pace going.
Ms. Susan Scotti: I'm going to ask Phil Jensen to
address the question of the social union framework and
the development of outcome measures. We already are
engaged in some discussions with our provincial
colleagues on some of that work.
Before I turn it over to him, I just want to say that
we recognize that we cannot do this without your help
and without the support of the disability community.
The work we are going to be doing is very much a
partnership and collaborative exercise that will engage
the community, the committee, and our colleagues in the
federal-provincial arena in developing the most
appropriate responses to the issues faced by the
Mr. Phil Jensen (Director General, Social Policy,
Department of Human Resources Development): Thank you,
Bearing in mind the chairman's comments, I'll try to
be as quick as I can.
With regard to the background on the
federal-provincial side, which is your question about
social union, this was identified as a priority in
1996-97 by the first ministers. We then developed
In Unison, the overall policy framework document.
It's very important to note that, because before there
was no policy document at all bringing the provinces
and the federal government together. Now there is, and
we can go forward from that.
In October, ministers approved two or three
initiatives. The first was an accountability framework
at the federal-provincial level. We're working on that
right now. The second was Disability Links, a
web-site-based process for information distribution of
With regard to the accountability framework, which is
your outcomes question, we've had a couple of very good
meetings. We had a meeting with the community and the
provinces in Toronto in September. We then had a
follow-up meeting with the federal-provincial working
group last week in Toronto, where we had presentations
on specifically how we might look at developing
Since then, it's become quite clear to us that at the
federal level, building on what Susan says, we clearly
need the advice of the committee on outcomes and how to
particularly engage citizens in this regard.
We are hopeful that we can come to you in the next
while to talk to you a bit about that, about how we
could develop an ongoing relationship. We don't see
this as a one-off type of thing. It's more coming to
you at the start, telling you where we are, and then
working together through the whole process.
I think the minister may talk a bit more about that
when she talks to your committee in the next week or so.
The Chair: Witnesses, you'll find you can often
return to some of these answers later. In all
fairness, colleagues, the same thing. Bear in mind that the
witnesses have to reply. As I've mentioned to you,
we're now at seven minutes and twenty seconds.
Mr. Phil Jensen: Mr. Chairman—
The Chair: Times ten, that's seventy minutes.
I'm going to go to Maurice Vellacott.
Mr. Phil Jensen: Just on the Canadian Human Rights
Act, if I could have ten seconds—
The Chair: Why don't you come back to it, Phil, when
you're answering Maurice's question. That's what they
do in question period.
Voices: Oh, oh.
Mr. Phil Jensen: All right. Fair enough.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Wanuskewin, Ref.): With
the blessing or in fact the promotion of the chair,
I want to ask questions and then get quick answers
as I move through about four questions
Mr. Rabinovitch, you might be the one on the seat for
this one. Could you give us number, 1998 being the
last full year, of those who applied for CPP disability
and those who were denied? Do you have some numbers
you could give me quickly, just numbers?
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Yes, I can you provide you
with that. In fiscal year 1998-99, there
were 64,834 applicants. Of this number, at the initial
level, 23,340 were granted and 42,220 were denied.
At the initial level, then, 36% were granted. Those
numbers of course then go into the appeal process.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott: Right. I have that chart
I'm wondering, Mr. Rabinovitch, how that would compare
with the prior years, 1997-98, for instance. What I'm
getting at in particular is whether more people are
applying and more people are being denied, going back
ten years ago, say, if you could pull out of the hat
the numbers from ten years ago.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: I can give you the
numbers for the last three years. We could talk more
generally about previous years, but I can give you
specific numbers for the last three years. I'll give
it to you in percentage terms, to save time.
The percent granted for last year was 36%. The
previous year, 1997-98, the percentage granted was 30%,
and in 1996-97 the percentage granted was 33%. In other
words, you're talking about a range between 30% and
36%, or roughly one-third.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott: Would you be able to recall
whether more were applying ten years ago in terms of
raw numbers? Were less people denied at that point? I
don't know whether you were in the department at that
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Ten years ago the
percentage of grants was higher, but ten years ago
somewhat different administrative criteria were being
used at the time. This is one of the applications of
the program that was quite seriously criticized by the
Auditor General at the time. In particular, certain
socio-economic criteria were really not justified by
the legislation. The Auditor General drew attention to
that and asked us to become much more rigorous in
applying the legislative standards.
In terms of actual numbers applying, there is no
easy predictability. A lot will depend on the
For example, Parliament two years ago tightened the
legislative requirements. You must now have been a
contributor to the CPP for four years out of six in
order to be admitted for consideration. So it's not
easy to discern a trend on that.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott: I guess what I'm
getting at here—and you're probably somewhat aware of it
and maybe justify it to some degree by changes,
legislative and otherwise, or maybe just within the
department.... It seems to me that the way we frame
it to people when making queries these days on CPP
disability, in a broad brush stroke, is that
if you're near death's door, you might have a hope of
getting CPP disability.
That sounds pretty harsh, but as an MP, I've had
people brought into my office, or walking in under
their own steam with maybe not a lot of strength and it
does seem that way. We just need to be frank and tell
them, well, short of that, there doesn't seem to be a
lot of hope. If there are flippant claims, that would
be justified, but for a lot of these people who come in
or are carried in or whatever it happens to be, they
are very weakened people.
I find the numbers a little interesting. I just
wonder how many of these people who do not appeal just
do not have the persistence in perhaps even very valid
situations. Sometimes we get involved. If they're not
aggressive or assertive enough, weakened in life as
they are, they won't go through the normal appeal
processes when it comes to such systems as EI. Because
it's not for the faint of heart.
No doubt you
must be aware of that, and you work within your
constraints. Has that been reported to you by other
people—that it's “short of death's door”?
The Chair: Can I comment?
I was surprised at the 36% who did not appeal,
which I think is part of the same question.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott: Yes.
persistent. And it almost seems that the
department.... In a legal sense, it would be like trying
to wear them out. We don't want to impugn motive or
whatever here; it's simply that a lot of these people
do not have the heart to persist. I don't know what
your response is to that.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: I certainly hope nobody is
impugning motives, because we're public servants who
apply the act as adopted by Parliament.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott: Right.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: The terms in the
legislation are very clear: an individual must be
suffering in a severe manner and for a prolonged period
of time. The parallel, if we talked about it
philosophically, would be that because of a disability,
a person is forced to retire from the labour force and
therefore is entitled to a pension before a normal
age-based retirement age. That's the concept behind
the legislation. You are out of the labour force.
There's no question that most people who look for a CPP
disability pension are not physically well. They are
undoubtedly, in most cases, suffering from some form of
illness or disability.
The CPP program is not designed to provide for partial
disability. Parliament, of course, could design such a
program. But as it is currently designed, and as it
has been tightened up, first through the Auditor
General, who of course is an officer of Parliament—the
Auditor General's critiques of several years ago, and
the legislation changes of only a year and a half
ago—the program is very specific in its application.
Now, what we found very interesting when we looked, if
I could finish—
The Chair: Maurice, if you....
Mr. Maurice Vellacott: I have one last question.
I know I'm running out of time. I don't mean to cut into
The Chair: You'll get the same time.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott: Okay. Go ahead, Victor.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: What we found very
interesting when we started pulling together statistics
to display them in this manner was that the allegation
that's sometimes made that everyone is refused first
time around when they apply just isn't so. Roughly
one-third of the applicants are admitted into the
program on first application. The timing has been
speeded up very significantly in the last two years.
We're talking about people getting responses 61, 62
working days after they first apply, which is an
amazing acceleration in speed compared to the past.
That then leads to the first level of appeal. Very
often at that first level of appeal, new medical
information is brought in, and you get that many more
people then being approved because of that appeal. Let
me say it's a very difficult decision. The medical
people, the nurses, and everyone involved in
adjudication take the cases really seriously. When I
have to sign letters to people, believe me, every
day.... Before I came in here this morning, I signed
another ten letters, and in some cases, in fact to some
MPs, they're saying yes, this person is now going to be
Mr. Maurice Vellacott: Okay. Let me just go to my
last question before my time expires.
The Chair: A very short one, Maurice.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott: It's simply the fact
that—and you made the point that at this juncture
there's no partial disability—some of these people
really cannot hold a full-time job; they're just not in
a position to do that at all. But for their mental
health and well-being, if they were allowed to do some
volunteer work or some very basic bit of work, it would seem
to me that we would do good by that person. Is there
any talk within the department of making some allowance
that way? It's desperate when somebody can't even
work a few hours for their mental health and
well-being, and they're cut off totally. It just seems
a very unfair thing and not dealing with people
rightly. That's my question.
The Chair: I know it's difficult, Victor, but make
it very short. It's a very important question, but we
do have to....
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Mr. Chairman, we couldn't
agree more, and in fact we are now designing
initiatives on the issue of return to work, which
include permitting disability clients to participate in
volunteer work, take educational courses, or begin
three-month work trials. And if the individual
decides, either at the end of the three months or
before, that they must come back onto disability, we
have instituted a rapid reinstatement process. We
couldn't agree more. We'd like to do more along those
The Chair: Karen Redman, Wendy Lill, and then
Mrs. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.): Thank
you, Mr. Chairperson.
I want to touch on two issues,
and I'll ask both my questions acknowledging right up
front that you have responded to the Auditor General's
report, and that's a good thing. I realize that as a
member of Parliament, I probably see 100% of the people
who are turned down, so that first 36% don't darken my
door. I have huge problems with the cases that are
turned down in my constituency.
My first question is about the Opportunity Fund. The
Independent Living Resource Centre was in partnership
with businesses. They had a coordinator hired with
that money. They've had to let that coordinator go.
They had a 90% success rate at getting disabled people
into the workforce or volunteering. I'd like to know
when that decision is going to be made and when that
announcement will be made. That's a huge support
that's been taken away because of that instability of
funding in my community.
My second question specifically is that we've heard at
another committee meeting the terms “denial by
process” as well as “denial by legal fiction”. That
was how they profiled the fact that so many people do
get turned down who are applying for disability.
Specifically again, in my riding I have MS sufferers
and fibromyalgia cases who don't fit the criteria of
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Severe.
Mrs. Karen Redman: —severe. Thank you. I
wonder how that is being looked at and when we can
look forward to having some criteria brought
into this mix that meet the needs of those people, who
in my estimation are very disabled.
Ms. Susan Scotti: Regarding your first question, on
the Opportunities Fund, are you referring to CAILC, the
Canadian Association of Independent Living? Is
that the organization you were referring to?
Mrs. Karen Redman: They're a member of that, but
Ms. Susan Scotti: It's a subgroup?
Mrs. Karen Redman: Yes.
Ms. Susan Scotti: Okay. I'm not—unless you are,
Mary—familiar with this particular instance.
Mrs. Karen Redman: Specifically, I would like to
know when the Opportunities Fund decision announcement
will be made. That's the nub of the question.
Ms. Susan Scotti: Okay. We very much hope it will
be made in the context of the February budget. As I
said in my opening remarks, we're very optimistic that
it will be renewed. It's done some really good things
and it's an important component of our disability
agenda. We won't know until February.
In the interim, we have been able to assist some
organizations with some supplementary funding as
resources have become available. I can take some
details from you about this particular case and ask the
staff to look—
The Chair: If you could get them to us, Karen, is
Mrs. Karen Redman: Yes, that's fine.
The Chair: Okay.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: If I can reply to the
second question, firstly, with regard to fibromyalgia
or chronic fatigue syndrome, there are specific
guidelines that exist in writing to help the medical
adjudicators judge between different applicants. I'd
be pleased to provide you with a copy of the guidelines
so you can see what it is they are using to judge
between cases. There are quite a number of people who
are suffering from those symptoms and that disease or
set of diseases, and they are, in many cases, admitted
to CPP disability as beneficiaries. But not all cases
If you'd like those guidelines, I can get them to
Mrs. Karen Redman: With regard specifically to MS
and cystic fibrosis, what about people who are living
with those disabilities?
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: They would be evaluated in
the normal manner, which is the ability to do work. The
disease may well be prolonged, but it may not be so
severe in specific individuals that they are so
incapacitated as to be removed from the labour
force. This is ultimately a work pension, not, if you
will, a sickness or illness pension.
So yes, there are individuals who are admitted, and
there are individuals who are not.
I would stress that the three levels of appeal
that are provided in the system are set out, of
course, by legislation. And Parliament, in its wisdom,
set it out—as we understand it—to provide individuals
sufficient time to either have their symptoms get
better or have their symptoms become worse, because it
really is over a period of time that the disease can
develop further, in one direction or the other.
We have accelerated our
handling, and the independent tribunals have also
accelerated their handling. It's very much intended
not to be refusal or denial by process—to the
contrary. What we'd really like to do, and where our
developmental thinking is now, is to create far more
personal handling of individuals so that even those who
do not meet the strict criteria of the CPP plan could
be, for example, referred to other
agencies—provincial, municipal, life assistance,
community assistance agencies—so that they are getting
attention as people and not simply being handled as
The Chair: Is that okay? Thank you very much.
Next is Wendy Lill, Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral, and
then Jean Dubé.
Ms. Wendy Lill (Dartmouth, NDP): Thank you for
coming here today.
I'd like to continue on the issue around the
Opportunities Fund. The Opportunities Fund is at a
critical stage right now, and there are all sorts of
groups that in fact are winding down, closing their
doors, literally not able to continue their
activities. It just isn't good enough to say that
we're going to be making a decision in the next couple
of months, because if we are not given any decisions
for a couple of months, the efforts of these groups
over the last three years will in fact be wasted.
That is irresponsible, and that really builds failure
into programs and into the lives of people who already
deal with that a lot of the time. So I have to say it's
not good enough.
Many disability groups have asked for a permanent fund
of $50 million. They don't want dribs and drabs of
money; they don't want it for one year or two years. The
question is, is the government going to undertake a
longer-term commitment to disability programs?
In response to the
subcommittee's report, I have some concerns about where
it's all landing now. We were being told that the
associate assistant deputy minister of the human resource
investment branch will
oversee disability issues. People have told our
subcommittee over and over again that they don't want a
pigeon-hole thing. It's not just an employment issue.
That is only one of the many pieces in the lives of
people with disabilities.
So I worry that it's now landing in a pretty
employment-based spot. And I wonder about tax issues,
mobility issues, income support, health, and education
concerns. Is that really going to be the place where
those kinds of issues will be able to be viewed
carefully? Also, what will be the disability
community's involvement in it?
Ms. Susan Scotti: To start with your first
question, on the Opportunities Fund, I couldn't agree
with you more that it is a shame that some really good
things have happened but people are on the verge of
having to notify employees that there will possibly not
be a continuation. We're very sensitive to that, and
we have asked our regional offices, who are working
with the organizations and groups, to have a look at
what the impact is at the moment of a decision not
being taken until February. We're doing an assessment
of what that impact is and what the potential needs
We've been able to flow a little bit of additional
money into the Opportunities Fund in order to help with
some bridging for some organizations. With the benefit
of the bigger picture, hopefully we will be able to
enable groups to continue the good work that has been
started. It is a very important element, but it's one
element, we hope, of a broader labour market strategy
that will be established with OF as one of several
tools we can use to achieve employment objectives.
On your second question, I guess it goes back to the
whole issue of horizontality and how we're going to
achieve the objective of inclusion across government
and with our many partners and communities of interest
in this area.
I'm only one ADM, and I'm the lead in my
department, but what we have in mind and what I know
our minister is very supportive of is that the
responsibility of ensuring that there is an inclusive
approach to disability issues is really a governmental
responsibility. It doesn't just rest with one
department; it has to be a collective responsibility of
all ministries and all officials.
What we need to achieve that objective are some of the
tools that will enable people and officials to think
about disability questions when they're developing
their public policies and their programs. The
committee's recommendation of a disability or access
and inclusion lens is one such tool that needs to be
The other is the whole accountability framework and
the focus on outcomes and results, because that will
enable us to measure what we're doing and where we're
going in a broader kind of way at both the federal
level and the federal-provincial level.
All of that needs to move in concert with where the
community is at and with the priorities that have been
identified with the community in a very tight
collaborative and engaged way, with community,
parliamentarians, private sector interests, and
federal and provincial governments.
Ms. Wendy Lill: I'm still afraid of it all
getting lost and buried deep down somewhere in the
internal organs of the department. It just doesn't
have that sense of light that I think we're all waiting
for that says this is going to be a group that will
steer a really inclusive ship
through the government waters. So I'm disappointed, and
I'm still not sure how this group, this location
and this person and this place, is going to do it.
The Chair: We'll go to Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral,
Jean Dubé, and then Bryon Wilfert.
Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): I have three
questions to ask.
For my first question, I'd like to refer to what my colleague
was saying about the Opportunities Fund. Very clearly, having a job
is very important for one's socialization and welfare. And I'm sure
that you already know that the money invested in this vein to help
the largest number of people possible is insufficient.
A few weeks ago, the Minister was informed in the House of a
shortfall of $3 million, in Quebec alone, to allow the people who
benefit from this program to make it until the end of March. A
short time afterwards, the Minister announced a figure of $900,000.
This was one dollar out of every three, and in the end this allowed
100 people to keep their jobs until the end of January.
On the other hand, we're told that there is an action plan and
that this action plan will be implemented, but according to the
available resources. Are you able to specify a reasonable amount of
money that should be allocated in the next federal budget to make
this a reality? I presume that you can tell me that there will be
several millions of dollars. That's the answer that I'd like to
have from you.
My second question is with respect to the funding of these
associations. Throughout Canada and Quebec, there are a number of
associations which provide services to persons with disabilities,
and the funding of these organizations is always very
problematical. In your presentation, Ms. Scotti, you spoke of
around $12 million, which seems to be the rule.
Is this $12 million used to fund national organizations that
play an important planning and organizational role and whose
services are provided from the Atlantic to the Pacific? Do you
foresee that the funding of these associations could go beyond
these national associations? If so, I'd like you to tell me how you
Mr. Rabinovictch, you spoke of legislative measures that would
likely be needed to improve the disability program. What types of
measures were you thinking of?
Ms. Susan Scotti: I'm not really sure if I'm able to answer
with respect to numbers that we might find in the budget in
February. We are hoping that the Opportunities Fund will be
increased and that we will receive funding for the measures
outlined in the program that we have established. We also hope that
national and regional organizations will benefit from an increase
in their funding.
I will ask Ms. Glen to respond to your second question.
Ms. Mary Glen (Director General, Social Development Directorate,
Department of Human Resources Development): The Partnerships for
Social Development Fund is aimed at national organizations that
have the ability to act in the interest of all, throughout Canada.
The figure of $12 million is divided in two: funding for the
organizations themselves, and funding for the projects.
We don't necessarily foresee an increase in the total amount,
but we hope to better focus the funds on the priorities of the
program for persons with disabilities. It is primarily funding for
The Chair: Madeleine?
Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: No, that's fine.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Mr. Chairman, in a process to improve
service delivery, we can take administrative measures. We're in the
process of testing some of these changes through pilot projects:
personal telephone contact, personal interviews, changes in the
procedures in order to have a personal contact rather than a
contact that is based solely on their file. These are the
However, if we want to make changes that go further, for
example to provide more flexibility so that people who participate
in the program have the opportunity to work for a longer period and
then to be re-admitted to the CPP program, there needs to be
legislative change. This gives you an idea of the situation. First
we want to experiment with some of our ideas, and then identify the
legislative shortcomings that need to be addressed so that we can
implement these changes.
I would also like to emphasize the importance of the
consultations and the exchanges that we have had with our
colleagues from the Quebec plan. We are constantly sharing
information and ideas with them in order to identify changes that
could be useful to the clientele.
Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: Mr. Rabinovitch, you have just
mentioned the relationship that you have with Quebec, which,
obviously, manages funds for persons with disabilities. With
respect to the definition of persons with disabilities, are your
definitions similar or is there a gap between the two? I looked at
the chart. I must admit that, when I saw that 35 applications were
granted and that 35 were denied, it struck me as a lot. There could
be all kinds of reasons to refuse an application, but it could also
be that the criteria result in a high number of denials. I would
like you to do some comparisons. I imagine that in Quebec as well,
some applicants are refused.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Of course. The legislative definitions
are almost identical.
Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: Okay.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: The administration of the law is
somewhat different in each of the jurisdictions; that depends
mostly on the age of the appellant. But in general, the programs
are very similar. As I said, we often share our experience with our
colleagues to see if there have been any improvements to either of
the programs. The programs are virtually identical.
The Chair: Jean Dubé, Bryon Wilfert, and then
Mr. Jean Dubé (Madawaska—Restigouche, PC): Thank
you, Mr. Chairman.
I would ask a question on the disability Opportunities
Fund, but by your comments I see that you're optimistic
about the fund. As we know, it's running out on March
31. If it's not renewed, I'll be knocking at your
door, that's for sure.
I'm sure you know, Mr. Rabinovitch, that I'm coming at
the CPP disability. A while ago, you didn't have the
numbers from previous years. I have here the numbers
from 1993 to today.
In your opening remarks you said that you hired more
staff, more experienced staff, to deal with these
issues. I have a lot of files for a lot of clients
coming to see me at the office, and I had the chance to
review these very files and look at the reports by
physicians and specialists in these fields. Often when
these files reached Ottawa, they were denied. We're
talking about physicians, experts, and specialists as
well. I would like to know who you've hired—not their
names—and what qualifications they have to overturn
Second, from 1993, the number of people applying for
CPP disability was 109,000 in 1993-94, with 44,869
accepted and 40,146 refused. When we look now at the
people who are waiting for these claims to go through,
we've seen a rise since 1993 that's absolutely
unbelievable. You said that you've been dealing with
that as well since my last intervention here, as you
probably remember, with the minister. I applaud you
for that and I applaud the department for working as
far as that part is concerned. But it's still very
high compared to numbers from before, from 1993, when
we were processing a lot more claims than we are today.
Here's what I'm getting at. Do you think, with the
work that has been done, that we'll be able to get to
the level where we were in 1993 with the process? If I
look at the waiting period and the amount of
applications, the waiting period has jumped by 7,000 to
10,000, I believe, and we've declined in applications.
I'm very concerned about that, and I want to know what
you're doing to deal with that specific area. I know
you're dealing with it, but I'm looking back to 1993,
I have another question, all right? I'm going to put
them all at once.
What I've also noticed recently...and I'm turning the
clock back maybe six months. As you know, I was
elected here in 1997, so I was learning as well. What
I've noticed as well, Mr. Chairman, is that a lot of
the time, the people who are being refused have
doctors' reports and specialists' reports as well,
which claim that these people are disabled, long-term,
fully, and are never to go back to work. I don't
understand why they're being refused when a specialist
says that. I want to know how many specialist doctors
you have employed by HRDC to review these files.
There's a pattern here. When a person runs through a
process, has the same diseases, the same disabilities,
often the department will say to reapply. After you've
extinguished all your options, you have to reapply. But
what happens when they have to reapply is that they
don't qualify on another basis: they don't have enough
years to qualify because it takes so long to go through
this process that the six years that you need falls
under the context...this is where it's totally
unacceptable as far as we are concerned, and as far as
these disabled Canadians are concerned as well. Is
there a mechanism you're looking for at the
departmental level to balance this injustice for these
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Mr. Chairman, I'll try to
give very brief replies given your time constraint.
Firstly, what has been done in the last three to four
years—and quite accelerated in the last three
years—has been the regionalization of the
administration of the program. This means that the
overwhelming number of decisions are being made in the
region where the applicant lives.
There has been extensive hiring of qualified medical
practitioners. We place a lot of emphasis on
registered nurses who, in addition to their nurse
training, receive specialized training on the law and
also specifically on disability and disability
adjudication. They have a group of specialized medical
doctors, “specialized” in the administrative sense of
applying the law, and there are also doctors who are
specialists in various diseases, various disabilities,
and who act as referral specialists and provide overall
There is also a quality assurance program right across
the country to ensure that decisions made in one part
of the country are similar to decisions made elsewhere
in the country.
So it is very much a medically adjudicated and
medically driven model whose purpose is to look at the
client, the person, as a whole.
In terms of timing, in fact the production time, the
amount of time it takes to deal with a case, has
accelerated significantly in the last two years and
especially in the last year. There was a period of
time when the problem of backlogs existed. It was
real. I'm very pleased to say that backlogs don't
exist in the processing system, either at the initial
stage or the first level of appeal. Our colleagues at
the review tribunal are in the midst of wiping out
their backlogs. There is, of course, scheduling times,
but that's not backlogs; sometimes it just takes time
to get the tribunal together. At the PAB they're
working very hard now at removing those backlogs.
All of these are aimed not just at doing it faster but
particularly at dealing with the issue of the
individual as a whole and how long you want to stretch
out the process. We don't want to stretch out the
process, so it's 60 to 65 days at the initial level and
65 to 70 days at the reconsideration level. That's
We deal with the person as an individual. We deal
with the person's medical histories. We deal with the
person's doctors' reports and other specialists'
reports. That's the objective. It's not just simply a
matter of applying a template and trying to get a
single answer based on the template.
If I may say, as a civil servant, Parliament adopted
some very important changes to the funding of the CPP a
year and a half ago, almost two years ago.
This has made the CPP system stable as far as any of
the actuaries can predict for the next 100 years. So
it's a tremendous achievement and one we're very
proud to talk about now to our clients who ask us about
whether the CPP will be there.
There was one aspect, though, that is important on
disability where one of the requirements for disability set
out by Parliament is that one must have been a contributor for
four years out of the last six years. This clearly
means that some individuals will not be able to meet
the contributory period. We are going to be looking at
this. Now that we have roughly a full year's
experience, it will take a bit of time.
We will be looking into seeing what impact this has on
applicants and how many applicants may be ruled
ineligible because of that four out of six. We don't have
that information yet. Give us a bit of time and we
will gather it, though.
So those are the answers, sir.
The Chair: Thank you.
You can put a very short
question as long as it's very short answer. We're now
experiencing a new world record.
Mr. Jean Dubé: Is it mine?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. Larry McCormick (Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox
and Addington, Lib.): Mr. Chair, is the meeting
Mr. Jean Dubé: Just coming back on your applauding
the government for tigthening up—
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Sir, it's not my role to
applaud the government. Whatever the government of the
day, they're elected and we're not.
Mr. Larry McCormick: The government makes a
Mr. Jean Dubé: I'm just working at this. But if I
look at the people who are applying for CPP disability,
they're not applauding right now. They're waiting for
cash. They're waiting for money to live. So from the
records I can see here, we're still very high for
people who are waiting to qualify. Decisions that are
This is where my qualm is, really. When I have a
physician, an expert, and a specialist who
states that this person is disabled, and it
reaches Ottawa and they're not disabled any more, it's
totally unacceptable. It really truly is.
The Chair: Do you wish to reply, Mr. Rabinovitch?
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Very quickly.
The decisions are being made almost overwhelmingly in
numbers in the region, not in Ottawa. It's not that there's
anything wrong with Ottawa; it's a city now of almost a
million people, and there are lots of good people who
live here, my wife and my children among others. So
we're not mean ogres.
Mr. Jean Dubé: I'm talking about the government.
I'm talking about the head office of HRDC. I'm not
talking about Ottawa as a city. I'm talking about your
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: The nature of the
decision-making, sir, has to based on medical evidence.
The Chair: We're up to 11 minutes and 13 seconds.
Mr. Jean Dubé: All right.
The Chair: Jean.
Mr. Jean Dubé: No, just to make sure here, this
is a low blow.
The Chair: It's on the record.
Mr. Jean Dubé: This is a low blow—
The Chair: No, no.
Mr. Jean Dubé: —and I do not accept that.
The Chair: No, the public service—and you can
say whatever you like....
Mr. Jean Dubé: I do not accept that. That was a
Mr. Larry McCormick: Things are a lot better than
they used to be.
Mr. Jean Dubé: That's a low blow. I did not refer
to the city of Ottawa; I was speaking about the
The Chair: Your point is well taken.
I have Bryon
Wilfert, then Larry McCormick.
Mr. Bryon Wilfert (Oak Ridges, Lib.): Thank you. I wasn't
actually going to follow up on my colleague, but I
First, I thank you all for coming.
I'd be curious to know when the decision-making
process was last reviewed in terms of CPP disability.
One of the frustrations I have as a member is that it's
very difficult to get an answer, if you get one at all,
when you phone.
I don't know whether the system is too bureaucratic.
I have a feeling that it is in terms of the decision,
the review panel, the Pension Appeals Board. You've
indicated the review tribunal is now from eight to six
and a half
months. It's going in the right direction. It's still
long, particularly for those who are individual cases
who come into your office. It's very difficult.
I certainly concur with my colleague that you look at
materials that come in and they're from physicians and
experts who say that this person is X, Y, and Z, and
then it's sent in and they say no, no, no. But it's
often very difficult trying to get someone at the other
end of the line and to really get the answers.
So I'd certainly ask for your comments there.
What I found interesting is I don't know what kind
of horizontal approach.... You're talking about
horizontality, but what about in the department itself?
I noted in the response that the Sixth International
Congress on Serving Children with Disabilities in the
Community.... My background was that I was president
of two national organizations; one was the Federation
of Canadian Municipalities and one was the Canadian
Parks/Recreation Association, neither of which do
I think you have really drawn on, either presently or in
For an example, in the early nineties the CPRA
put out disability access to recreational
facilities—grassroots organizations, with national
memberships that deal with everything from buildings to
sidewalks to designs, etc. I would presume, if there's
a Canadian delegation at this congress, that
organizations like that should be involved. They have
tremendous expertise, and are often tapped by the
federal government. The FCM then got hold of this
information and they wanted, obviously, to distribute
it. Of course there's obviously an issue of funding,
particularly because they don't get enough dollars.
I'm curious to know, what are the objectives and the
goals of this international meeting that's going to be
held in October 2000 in Edmonton? What are some of
the outcomes you hope to see from that? How will they
impact on government policy? I very much believe in a
collaborative approach. You talk about all orders of
government in your response, but municipal governments
are sadly left out. As one who spoke to a joint
federal-provincial ministerial meeting in November
1996 on the environment, I can say that inviting them
to those types of meetings to provide that type of
information from the grassroots isn't a bad idea.
It's already been done, so I don't have to hear about
any constitutionality activity, because that's already
been there. So those are my concerns.
If I could throw out another one,
it's the whole issue of HRDC is really dealing with
employment issues, and of course injuries and
prevention my colleague has mentioned. But
you also deal with other areas, whether
it's community capacity building or information
sharing, etc., and I'm just not sure how well you are
equipped. You don't have to
necessarily answer today, but maybe there's information
you could send the committee.
I would certainly
appreciate that in the interest of time, Mr. Chairman,
and I hope I was under your limit.
The Chair: You're doing very well.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch again.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: If I could begin, Mr.
Chair, then Ms. Scotti will continue.
Auditor General's report of 1996, there was a
significant effort made to review and improve clarity
for the medical guidelines and the decision-making
guidelines. So the most significant administrative
review I would describe as being in the 1996 period.
In 1997 and 1998 tremendous efforts were made at the
regionalization and increased funding and the hiring of
more medical experts in order to accelerate the
So essentially, then, in the last three years we have
made the CPP disability system really work well,
according to the way it has been designed under the
legislation—work well for the legislation. At this
stage, in 1999, what I've tried to bring out is that we
share a lot of the same misgivings that Mr. Dubé and
others have expressed here. We want very much to see
if there are other design elements that can be worked
into it in order to make the decision-making—how shall
I say it—less paper-driven and more
client-centred-driven. So the short answer is
that during the last three years the process has been
accelerated, and now we're hopefully moving into another
stage of process design.
For inquiries by clients, we have a tremendous 1-800
telephone number system that works very well. I
can share with you that we get on average 70,000 to
80,000 a week, and 100% are answered on their first
call and 95% are answered within 180 seconds, which is
a standard that is set. I can provide you with
specific details on that.
For members of Parliament, there is a specific inquiry
unit that is available in each region. If there are
any difficulties you have encountered, I'd like to
hear about them, perhaps after the meeting, to just
ensure that you're getting the service you
require. I'd like to stress that this service is for
all members of Parliament. I'd also like to offer to
have staff sit down with any person who was here—particularly
Monsieur Dubé, who has asked some very
important questions on statistics—and to go over the
numbers and ensure that we have provided the fullest
possible information to
the questions that were asked
and the fullest interpretation of the statistics so
that everything is as clear as can be.
The Chair: Thank you.
Ms. Susan Scotti: I think there are two other
elements of Mr. Wilfert's question.
On the question about the Sixth International
Congress, we're working with the Canadian Association
for Community Living, the Province of Alberta, to
achieve three key objectives out of this
congress. There is a particularly unique Canadian
model that has been used with the disability community
that is trying to achieve the goal of looking at, in a
holistic way, the needs of the child with disabilities
so that it brings in the family and community to
achieve the most appropriate responses to deal with the
issues facing the child with disabilities. So we want
to showcase that Canadian model and use it as a way of
informing others of our best practices in that area.
Secondly, it raises the profile of the whole issue of
disability among children.
Thirdly, it helps to link the question of disability
and children and families.
Those are the three key broad objectives.
We'd be happy to send you a little bit more
information on the congress as the planning develops.
Mr. Bryon Wilfert: I'd appreciate that.
Ms. Susan Scotti: I'm not in a position today to
give you any information whatsoever on who will be a
part of the Canadian delegation, because I don't think
those decisions have been made as yet.
Mr. Bryon Wilfert: How does one
express interest, if someone were interested?
Ms. Susan Scotti: That would be through the
Canadian Association for Community Living. Diane
Richler is the executive director.
Mary, do you want to add something?
Ms. Mary Glen: No.
Ms. Susan Scotti: Okay.
On your question about how HRDC is structured, we'd be
more than happy to provide committee members with a
description of the various aspects of the work
HRDC is involved in and who does what in the
Mr. Bryon Wilfert: On your linkage with the
organizations such as I stated, in terms of materials
they have that they distribute at the grassroots level,
what's the connection?
Ms. Susan Scotti: Your two organizations were
Mr. Bryon Wilfert: They were the Federation of
Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian Parks and
Ms. Susan Scotti: Okay.
Let me do a little bit of research on those two
particular organizations. I know we have been
involved in discussions with the FCM on the issue of
homelessness, in particular.
I don't know about the other
Mr. Bryon Wilfert: Okay. Thank you.
The Chair: Larry McCormick, and then Paul Crête.
Mr. Larry McCormick: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and
thanks to the witnesses for being here.
should pull out some bats and bouquets, but I've only
been around for six years here in Ottawa, and I've been
on HRD for six years, so I must have failed somewhere
along the line. I make more mistakes than anybody, but
among some of the most shameful departments of the
government, probably the most shameful performance I've
seen was HRD with the CPP disability a few years ago.
But more and more I have noticed better performance,
even in my own local office, in the last couple of
years. That's true, and I have to mention that.
Victor, there was one thing you mentioned, and I hope
it's not a pilot project. You mentioned the early
prison contact and the oral verbal exchange and that
there's such a need for that. So I'm hoping you'll
make a comment on that.
Also, before I forget, I should pay tribute to the
Scott report, which was a great work.
Being on the committee, along with Paul, since 1993, I
do believe Mr. Scott was one of the great
contributors of the committee. I'm sure that work
will be carried on by Dr. Bennett, along with Ms.
Scotti and Ms. Glen, and so on.
Anything we can do to encourage you to
communicate, on this CPP disability.... I don't want
to sound like the opposition. I shouldn't talk about
people when they're not here. Next week I won't be
here to hear the minister because our agriculture
committee will be sacrificed in the west as we go
through Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.
In 1994 or 1995 we were the committee from hell, when
we did 26 cities in 35 days, in ten provinces, two
territories, and the eastern Arctic. The riot was only
bad in one city. It could have been worse.
You see, in Ottawa here and in your departments—and I
know you people are great workers, and I respect
bureaucrats greatly—when these cases come into our
offices on the CPP disability, it seems to me that you
or whoever works for you could differentiate with some
of the cases on what you get on paper.
We've all seen the people personally come into our
office, and by the time they get through that process
they're not there to come into the office. I apologize
for saying that, but it's true. It has happened, and
always will happen. Not everything is within our
But as I say, we've seen great progress, and I applaud
the regional effort. Being government rural caucus
chair, I know it's very important, because
transportation and communications in the rural part of
Canada, let alone the remote part of Canada, is a
With the agriculture committee, next week we're going
into some of these areas where Canadians have been
hardest hit. These are not statistics; these are
people. So I want to leave that on the record.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: I couldn't agree more, and
I couldn't sympathize more. My own personal contact
with clients comes primarily through the
correspondence. As my staff know very well, I spend
hours on correspondence, reading through the case files
as much as I can. I simply can't agree more with you
about how tough the cases are and how individuals who
are adjudicated medically, and who may not meet the
CPP criteria, nevertheless are not people who are
well. I want to be sure of that.
In some of the steps we're working on now, either through
the pilots or that we are planning on bringing in, we
hope the year 2000-2001 will be the period in which
we're really able to accelerate these innovations. We
want to be able to talk with each applicant at the time
of the application. We want to be able to explain to
applicants what the CPP program provides and what it
does not provide, because it was very strictly defined
by Parliament. We want to be able to explain the type
of information that is needed, so that an individual
doesn't just submit an application and then find out a
month later that it wasn't a complete application.
Also, we want to go over decision-making in detail so
that we explain the decision and why an individual was
rejected or why an individual was admitted.
I mentioned that there are three pilot projects going
on right now. One is in Manitoba, one is in St.
John's, Newfoundland, and one is in Chatham, which is
one of the three offices in Ontario. We're evaluating
the pilot tests. We're looking at the additional
amount of time that is required, application by
application, and therefore we will be able to judge how
much more resource will be required if we go with this
We will then have to figure out where to get the
resources from. Canada has suddenly discovered that
there aren't as many nurses around as we thought we had
at one time, so we are out there competing now for
qualified nurses to help on the adjudication program.
That's all part of the pilot testing and the
design of a better program.
We want to be able to deal with clients who are
admitted to the program and be able to provide them
with more information and follow up with them,
particularly early on in the program, so that if
there is any possibility for return to work or for
rehab that could be linked to return to work, we can
move on that quite quickly. Rather than waiting
for the individual to come to us, perhaps we could go
to the individual. We're exploring this.
One other area I'll mention—and it's obviously a very
sad one, but it's just part of life—is that clearly a
significant number of the people who are clients, who
have been admitted to the program, do die each year.
Approximately 8,000 out of the 280,000 die each year.
We want to be able to start making contacts with
individuals and their families earlier in the life
cycle of being on disability so that we can tell them
about other CPP benefits to which they may be
entitled—in other words, not just simply put a person
into pay, they have their
number, and that's the end of them.
These are all ideas. Some of the ideas are being
tested very actively. They're being costed. That's
the general approach we want to go to. Mr.
Chairman, I'd say, once again, that as soon as we have
the ideas more fully fleshed out, it would be great to
be able to discuss this with colleagues of yours on the
Mr. Larry McCormick: Mr. Chair, I'm not able to
judge, but if there's one thing that we could perhaps
bring forward—again, I'm going to go back to the
commodity prices across this country, and it's not just
in the west, the pig farmers...these people are
suffering, and it comes right into family and health
and one type of disability or another. The press say
the perception is that we don't care.
I believe, again, that this initial contact and the
oral touch...if you
could touch these people so that they realize people do
care.... I would ask that you consider that to be at
the top of our list.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
The Chair: Thanks, Larry.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Just an anecdotal comment,
Mr. Chairman. Our staff, who are participating in the
pilots, are really excited by them. They prefer to deal
with people as people. Most of them are trained as
medical people, as you know, and therefore in the
training...the ability to deal with individuals really
The Chair: Paul Crête.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les
Basques, BQ): I have three questions to ask.
First of all, you inferred earlier that your relationship with
the provinces was very good. That is not at all what I have heard.
I was told that in October, there had been a meeting at which all
of the provincial representatives complained about their
relationship with the federal government with respect to the
division of responsibilities. I'd like you to tell me about that.
Secondly, I was at an important meeting of the Canadian
Association of Independent Living Centres in Montreal, a few weeks
ago. There were a lot of complaints about the high turnover of
staff at the department. From one month to the next, they are not
able to deal with the same person for any follow-up. Could you name
the people who were there 12 months ago and those who are there
currently in order to see if they are different, and also to tell
us if the situation has been corrected?
Thirdly, you spoke of millions of dollars for projects and for
the national associations. Would it not be possible to ensure that
the IAS Committee, the Industrial Adjustment Service Committee for
Persons with Disabilities, which manages the budget for Quebec, has
enough money to take them to March 31. The $900,000 that were added
only allow them to operate until the 30th of January.
Could these projects allow groups such as the Femmes sans
barrière committee, which is funded by the Independent Living
Centre in Trois-Pistoles through the federal program, to have
funding to implement the recommendations that were made at their
conference which took place in Rimouski about three weeks ago, and
which was a great success? The Femmes sans barrière committee
included around 50 women with disabilities and likely some 100
people in all.
The Chair: Mr. Rabinovitch.
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Mr. Chairman, we'd like to share the
answers. First of all, I spoke of the friendship between us and our
colleagues at the Régie des rentes du Québec, and the work that we
do together. I must say that we work very, very well together. We
share information and ideas.
Mr. Paul Crête: I wasn't referring to the Régie des rentes du
Québec, but rather to the federal-provincial group on programs for
persons with disabilities. I was told that in October, there had
been a meeting at which the provincial representatives complained
Mr. Phil Jensen: There are a number of meetings with the
provinces. Are you referring to the deputy ministers' meeting on
Mr. Paul Crête: The meetings on issues regarding persons with
Mr. Phil Jensen: There were a number of subjects on the
agenda. Quebec was there, in an observer capacity, and shared its
experience. It was not my impression that there was a conflict.
Mr. Paul Crête: I'm not saying that it was Quebec that wasn't
happy, but that all of the provinces weren't happy.
Mr. Phil Jensen: That was not my impression.
Mr. Paul Crête: Were you present?
Mr. Phil Jensen: Yes, I was there, in Edmonton. They discussed
issues relating to persons with disabilities, for example the
agreement between the provinces and the federal government entitled
In Unison, which is the comprehensive policy project.
Mr. Paul Crête: Precisely, with respect to the In Unison
project, you say in your report that all of the provinces agree.
However, Quebec never signed this agreement.
Mr. Phil Jensen: There is a paragraph indicating that Quebec
is not participating in this project. In any case, I was there and
it was my impression that the meeting went very well.
Ms. Susan Scotti: As for the other questions, I will give you
more information later on the three projects: the Femmes sans
barrière committee, in Trois-Pistoles, additional funding for the
IAS Committee and the Canadian Association of Independent Living
Centres. I don't have the information that you're asking for with
me right now, but I will send it to you later.
Mr. Paul Crête: It's important that we have the information on
the IAS Committee before the House adjourns. Otherwise, there will
be no more money at the end of January and we will not be here at
Ms. Susan Scotti: I think that we should assign additional
Mr. Paul Crête: Nine hundred thousand dollars.
Ms. Susan Scotti: —to the IAS Committee.
As for the list of employees, there have been a lot of
staffing changes. I hope that the situation will stabilize. We
would be happy to provide you with a list of the staff that was
there two months ago.
Mr. Paul Crête: With respect to the IAS Committee, it is
important to understand that the $900,000 that were allocated
allowed the organization to pay their arrears and to continue
operating until January 30. However, from January 30 to April 1,
there will no longer be any money to guarantee that they can
continue operating. We believe that that is where the money needs
to be put, as it was a few weeks ago.
The Chair: You mustn't forget that the chair is still here.
Mr. Paul Crête: Yes, Mr. Chairman. I will figure it out in the
end. Pardon me. I'm not too quick. It's because I'm so interested,
it's my enthusiasm.
The Chair: Yes, I understand.
Mrs. Carolyn Bennett: You just—
The Chair: No, no.
Mrs. Carolyn Bennett: When he's finished.
The Chair: Okay?
Mr. Paul Crête: Yes, thank you.
The Chair: Colleagues, I'm going to go to Jean
Dubé, very briefly—
Mrs. Carolyn Bennett: You still need a little
answer on the Human Rights Act.
The Chair: We'll come back to it.
Mr. Jean Dubé: When I spoke earlier, you saw the frustration
that I feel when my constituents come to my office. You had a
little example of what we see in our offices. But I will be sure to
mention Hull next time, because I also have relatives here, in
Hull, and I am very fond of them.
Allow me to come back to the CPPD program. When a person
applies to the program for the first time, they do it at the
regional level. If a person from my province, New Brunswick,
applies for the disability benefit, they would do it at the
regional office, which is in Fredericton, I believe. If this
application is refused at the regional level, do they have recourse
to some sort of mechanism before going to the review tribunal? Can
the Hull office intervene in the decision or must it automatically
go to the review tribunal?
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Mr. Chairman, the first level of
appeal is at the administrative level. This is called the
reconsideration and this is at the administrative level. This
appeal normally occurs within the department, in the region where
the first decision was made. The people who make the second
decision must not be the same who were involved in the first
decision. They must be different people, who are still from the
regional office. Thus, the reconsideration is made with new eyes.
This is how we avoid using the arm's length system, the
administrative tribunals. That is the answer.
We have a system of quality assurance, which will be improved.
Next year, when we answer your questions, we may be in a better
position to provide you more specific information concerning
quality assurance in each of the regions and at each of the
decision-making levels. Generally, we are satisfied, and the
Auditor General is satisfied as well, but we are demanding more and
more standards, standards for all decisions in all regions.
I hope I've answered your question properly.
Mr. Jean Dubé: Yes, thank you.
Last year I put a question to the department on the matter of
delays. In some provinces, you had to wait longer than in others.
In BC, at that time, after you'd put in a request, you had to wait
109 days before getting any answer. In Ontario, it was 107 days. In
Newfoundland it was only 48 days. The average was 62 working days.
Was something done in the case of these two provinces or was the
wait very long? Is it still 107 and 109 days in BC and Ontario?
Mr. Victor Rabinovitch: Mr. Chairman, I don't know if my
colleagues have the most recent statistics. We don't have them with
us, but we'll be sending them to all members of this committee.
This was a very good question and it showed us we had to add staff
in BC and review certain administrative measures. At this point, BC
is exactly within the time frames. If memory serves, the wait is
now 55 to 60 days, which is exactly within the standards, but I'll
check this out and give you more specific information.
One of the great improvements we brought to the system over
the last 12 or 14 months was this acceleration of the process
everywhere in the system. The information is now more specific
concerning those decisions made in each of the three regional
offices. Also, the administration of each of these regions
My colleague has just given me the information and I'll quote
it. In BC, it's extraordinary: up to the end of October, the
average wait for the first decision was 28 days and 67 days for the
second decision-making level, in other words the first appeal.
That's exactly in line with the standards we have. On average, in
all regions of Canada, the wait was 61 days for the first decision
and 67 for the second level of decision. That's the average for a
three-month period. It's quite acceptable.
The Chair: Carolyn Bennett.
Mrs. Carolyn Bennett: I just have a question on our input
to the HRA review, and then there was another
question on research and how research in
disabilities takes place in this country.
I guess my concern is that even PCO's PRI
doesn't seem to be very interested in it. Although
they're mandated to do horizontal issues, there was
certainly nothing on it at their conference last week.
Who does this, seeing that it's again over many
ministries? How do you make sure it happens?
Mr. Phil Jensen: Mr. Chairman, I
think I'm probably best positioned to respond to both
questions—and I'm sorry it took so long to get back to
the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The issue there is that Minister McLellan launched a
review of it going back to last April. My impression
is that the issues the community has in regard to the
legislation are at two levels. First off, is there
sufficient protection overall within Canadian
legislation for the needs that minority groups like
persons with disabilities have? That was raised when
we talked to them on many occasions, and they have in
fact raised the issue of the Canadian disabilities act.
As I think I mentioned when we talked to your
committee, from a legislative perspective we looked at
this fairly systematically. It seems there is adequate
protection from a legislative perspective within
current legislation. That gets to the second issue
they're concerned about, though, which is that no
matter how much you have things in legislation,
operationalizing and then having an effect on the
ground with the people who need it and who count is
entirely a different matter. Many countries have faced
this. The Americans have changed their legislation
several times to try to get at this.
Mrs. Carolyn Bennett: Have you met with—
Mr. Phil Jensen: Yes, I'm going to get to that in
The chair right now is taking interventions or
presentations from various departments. One of my
directors responsible for this area met with him last
week to raise the concerns with him and to point out
that a role for the Human Rights Commission could
possibly be looked at to establish guidelines, and
perhaps even regulations in some ways, that would help
inclusion in terms of accommodation and so on. It's
early days, though. They're still meeting, they're
talking, and then they will submit a report to the
minister. But yes, we've raised the issues with him.
Mrs. Carolyn Bennett: The only issue we talked
about was whether or not the commission would have an
ability to have a secretary and an office in order to
go out to do audits on things so that these things
don't have to come through one case at a time. Is
there a proactive way of going about this, and would
you be recommending that?
Mr. Phil Jensen: I think we wanted to start first
with setting guidelines and regulations. We would see
the issue of auditing as a second stage, because they
have to have something to audit against. Right now,
all we have is the legislation. We don't really have
very good guidelines or regulations or whatever is
needed, so that's certainly an issue that can be raised
On the issue of disability research, as we've told
your committee before, the bottom line is that the
statistics on disability in the country are very poor.
They're very dated and they're not particularly
comprehensive. In the last six to eight months, we've
taken steps to really try to beef things up, if you
will. First off, we funded some initial steps for
HALS, the health and activity limitation survey,
for the next census. The minister has reallocated
funds within the department to do some developmental
work for that.
Secondly, we've started looking at putting additional
questions in our longitudinal surveys. With persons
with disabilities, they go in and out of disability, so
you need both point-in-time and longitudinal surveys.
The Chair: If I could interrupt, I think a part of
the question here is that the research is one example
of an across-silo approach. I know it's been discussed
before, but I think that's part of the question here.
We understand it's difficult. We understand the point
about the nature of the federal system. But on the
research side—and you're just getting into it—in
getting some understanding of what's going on, you have
to go across the silos within the department and
Mrs. Carolyn Bennett: But as this sort of office or
the place where disabilities happens within government,
what do you see in terms of a new CIHR? Do you
see that there will be injury prevention, prevention of
birth defects or fetal alcohol? All of those are huge
disabilities. How do we make sure there's a thorough
ability to look after these
issues as the new CIHR is being set up?
Mr. Phil Jensen: I'll get to the
CHRA in a second, but I would just finish on the
disability research, because I think it's very
important. The third component of that is not only to
have the data, but to have a capacity to do research
and to ask what the data means, how we can interpret
it, and how we can best make public policy in Canada.
In that, we're trying to strengthen the organization's
ability to do it. We try to strengthen it internally,
and we also try to strengthen the ability of groups
like the PRI to bring it together.
Every year the PRI sets priorities, and those
priorities go out for four or five years. They've
set the priorities like aging and some of the
employment issues over the last couple of years. Even
if they had persons with disabilities as a priority
right now, we do not have sufficient and good data to
gather the type of research on persons with
disabilities that we do on employment or children.
We're trying to remedy that.
To come back to your last question, about the CHRA,
this is a review by a group of eminent persons, if you
will, for the Minister of Justice. Following that,
they will make specific recommendations and conclusions
that departments would comment on. It would be decided
whether there would be legislative changes or
regulatory changes, or whether there may be general
policy changes. There's a fairly lengthy and
extensive process here, so I think community
involvement can occur at several stages, and obviously
your committee can input at several stages. We can get
more specific information on how that might occur from
the justice department,
and we can communicate it to you if you'd like,
if that would be helpful.
The Chair: I'm going to wind this up. I have a
line of inquiries of my own, so I'll mention it to you
with the hope that you can provide me with the
I'd like to say, though, that you can see there's a
huge amount of interest. I would venture to say that
regardless of whichever eighteen members of Parliament
we substituted into this committee, you'd get a lot of
similar questions. I think you all know that. This is
a matter that we see every day.
This business of the CPP in particular, but also all
aspects of disabilities, is an extraordinary thing in
our constituency offices and when we go to groups in
our ridings. It's something of great importance to us.
As the new chair, I noticed the huge emphasis on the
CPP disability. Victor Rabinovitch is here, and
he's been doing a very good job. It makes me realize
why we have re-established the subcommittee that
Carolyn Bennett chairs to deal with disabilities in
general. It also makes me realize, colleagues who are
here, that when we have a meeting like this, we should
perhaps think of the design of it in order that CPP,
for example—which we might well revisit—could be
dealt with on its own, so that we can handle some of
the other very important disability questions that are
I still have to get to my remark, but I would comment
on this diagram—and I suspect the camera can pick it
up. I would say that if I had seen this in the
performance report of the department, it would have
been very useful. And I mean this quite sincerely.
That is a very useful diagram to me as a member of
Parliament, in terms of being able to see the
flow-through of 64,000 entrants and what happens to
them. It's the sort of thing that should be in the
The other thing that I heard—I think it was Susan
who said it—was the point about your efforts to
humanize. I know there would have to be levels of
generalization, but we must do everything we can to
humanize the system. By the way, we know that because
it's part of our job. Our job out there is to humanize
the system, and I'm all for anything we can do.
So you know we have the subcommittee. We know the
minister will be here a week today, dealing with the
same area. I would suggest to you that you'll find
that in addition to the subcommittee, the main
committee will follow up on this area.
Can I ask you if you would provide us.... I think you
know we also had a report on post-secondary education.
There was a disabilities aspect to that, having to do
with the needs assessment process for the Canada
student loans program. Our standing committee
recommended a comprehensive review of that, and in the
response the government said there was going to be a
comprehensive review—and this is still HRDC. When the
officials appeared before us—that was very
recently—they did not discuss how the needs assessment
review would incorporate disability-related matters,
but they promised to table relevant documents. We
certainly hope we can see those.
How has HRDC incorporated the requirements of students
with disabilities into the needs assessment review for
the Canada student loans program and related
things? How does the needs assessment process take
into account the additional needs for students whose
children have disabilities? How does it demonstrate
flexibility in course load requirements? How does it
incorporate that for students with disabilities and
demonstrated special needs? How does it extend the
time for completion for students with special
requirements, and so on?
You may have to deal with your colleagues who appeared
before us before. However, I'm very conscious of the
fact that in this meeting we did not cover all the
aspects of the report or of the response—and by the
way, that's not your fault; it's the way the thing is
designed. I'd be grateful if you could table that sort
Ms. Susan Scotti: It would be helpful if we could
have that list of questions so that we could respond to
those things, Mr. Chairman.
The Chair: Yes, by all means. I'll see that you
Ms. Susan Scotti: Thank you.
The Chair: I'd like to thank Susan Scotti,
Victor Rabinovitch, Phil Jensen,
Mary Glen, and their other colleagues
who have been here in the room and who have, I've
noticed, been helping with the responses. Thank you
very much for appearing before us today on what I hope
you know is a very important issue. You have said you
would like to work with our committee and the
subcommittee, and we would certainly like to work with
Ms. Susan Scotti: We thank you very much.
The Chair: The next meeting of this committee is a
week from today, when the minister will appear. Our
regular time slot next Tuesday is taken up by the
Subcommittee on Children and Youth at Risk, and I
encourage all members to attend that subcommittee
Thank you very much. We're adjourned.