One in four working-age persons with disabilities lives below the poverty line in Canada. For an aging, underpiviledged Park-extension this is a problem that rears its head all too often. Working-age persons with disabilities in Canada are twice as likely to live in poverty as those without. The Government of Canada is now taking action to reduce poverty and improve the financial security of working-age persons with disabilities.
On September 20th, Bill C-22 – the Canada Disability Benefit Act, began second reading in the House of Commons. This legislation was reintroduced on June 2, 2022, by the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough. If passed by Parliament, Bill C-22 will create a new Canada Disability Benefit (CDB).
The CDB would be a federal income supplement for working-age persons with disabilities. It would become an important part of Canada’s social safety net, alongside Old Age Security, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and the Canada Child Benefit. In the spirit and principle of “Nothing Without Us,” the Government is engaging with the disability community, as well as other stakeholders, including Indigenous organizations and disability researchers and experts, to inform the design of the proposed benefit. In the summer of 2021, the Minister launched a first round of engagement with the disability community through ministerial roundtables and an online public survey that received more than 8,500 responses. Engagement is ongoing with community-led and Indigenous-led activities, and will continue into 2023.
The provinces and territories also play a central role in providing supports and services to persons with disabilities, and, as such, they are being engaged on the CDB as well. In July 2021, Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Social Services met for an initial discussion on the proposed new benefit and that engagement continues.
“With the second reading of Bill C-22, we are one step closer to creating a Canada Disability Benefit. With this Benefit, we have a chance to help hundreds of thousands of people, and seriously reduce poverty in Canada. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do better by persons with disabilities, and to be better as a country. Let’s not miss it.” said Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.