Liberal Party of Canada Candidate for Don Valley West, Rob Oliphant

Mr. John Matheson

Chair, CNIB National Board of Directors

1929 Bayview Avenue

Toronto, ON M4C 3E8

Dear Mr. Matheson,

Thank you for your letter regarding the Liberal Party of Canada’s position on the funding of alternate format materials for print disabled Canadians. As you have been recently informed by Liberal Party President, Anna Gainey, a Liberal government will be committed to ensuring that organizations such as the CNIB have access to predictable, stable funding in order to achieve your important mandate of assisting Canadians with vision loss.

As the Member of Parliament for Don Valley West, in 2008-2011, I met and worked with staff and clients of CNIB on a number of issues and, if elected to the House of Commons again, I plan to champion the issues that matter to CNIB and the people it serves.

As I have said to your team personally, Canadians should not be expected to rely on charitable funding for the basic human right of being able to read our country’s literature. This is simply unacceptable. 

I have a proven record of service as an advocate for human rights. When I was Commissioner and Chair of the Human Rights Commission in Yukon, I saw first-hand what happens to communities when denied a basic human right.  And although CNIB has championed this issue for many years, it is not fair to expect a charitable organization to continue to be the sole funder of this vital service.

As President and CEO of the Asthma Society, I know just how hard it is to raise each and every dollar and have experienced the decline in charitable giving. With the majority of CNIB’s charitable dollars being allocated to critical rehabilitation therapy for people who are blind or partially sighted, finding approximately $3M every year to fund the production of alternate

format material is an unfair challenge and one that you should not face alone.

Canada’s economic growth is dependent on literacy, as it greatly impacts the education and employment opportunities citizens can access.  With equal access to a broad spectrum of accessible literature, Canadians with print disabilities can be contributing members of our society and economy.

While I appreciate the Harper government’s previous funding support to CNIB for the production of alternate format material, this funding was sporadic, not sustainable and often not enough. As your Member of Parliament, I will work directly with CNIB, the Liberal Party and my caucus colleagues to ensure any and all measures are taken so that the production of alternate format materials is funded in a sustainable and adequate manner.

Thank you for all you do to ensure Canadians with vision loss are able to fully participate in every aspect of life and society.  Should you have any questions or require anything further from me, I welcome the opportunity to speak with you and your board.

Sincerely,

Rob Oliphant

Federal Liberal Candidate

Don Valley West

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