The first-ever commitment to create a national Disability Benefit program was announced in the September 2020 Speech from the Throne, and reinforced in Minister Carla Qualtrough’s January 2021 supplementary mandate letter. This commitment was an acknowledgment by the federal government that COVID-19 has not only disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities, but laid bare long-standing challenges for persons with disabilities to access adequate programs and benefits.
While details have not yet been released, the government has stated the Disability Benefit will be modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for Seniors. That’s good news. This means the Disability Benefit will not be a simple one-time payout or top up, but will provide a regular long-term supplement to other supports and act like a Universal Basic Income.
To ensure the Disability Benefit lives up to its potential and ends poverty for Canadians living with disabilities will require unity, agency, leadership and widespread engagement by disabled people, their families, friends, organizations and allies. In other words, Nothing About Us, Without Us to maintain momentum and to direct and shape the process.
This collective effort has already begun. Collaboration between individuals, groups, coalitions and organizations from across Canada is already occurring in order to ensure the creation of the Disability Benefit. Plan Institute is proud to be a part of the collective efforts. If you missed it, please check out the webinar series hosted by the collaborative on the proposed Disability Benefit.
The Canadian Disability Benefit initiative will bring the many strong voices of the disability movement together and create the space for dialogue and exchange that must be the necessary foundation for creating a successful and enduring Canadian Disability Benefit. Soon, a dedicated site to this initiative will be up and running via Include Me, which is a social movement that engages the disability community to work together to change Canadian society.
We hope that you will join all those already a part of this grassroots, cross-disability led and independently financed initiative. Connect with us and stay up to date, find out ways to get involved, and learn more about how we can all work together to end disability poverty.