Last updated on June 9th, 2022
In the recent Throne Speech was the acknowledgement 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. The government’s response to what the community has long known is a commitment to establish a Canadian Disability Benefit.
On June 2nd, the federal government tabled Bill C-22 for a second time. This is an important step in the benefit becoming reality.
What will it look like?
The details have not yet been released but 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 provide a regular long-term supplement to other (provincial) supports and act like a Universal Basic Income.
Anti-poverty advocates around the world have long promoted a Basic Income as an effective, efficient, transparent and non-paternalistic form of direct income support. Many countries have already implemented Basic Income strategies in various forms. There’s Canadian-made research demonstrating its effectiveness and Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer has said we can afford it. The federal Minister of Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough is also on record as supporting a Basic Income.
In other words, a Basic Income is a good thing – and long overdue. And it may be just what will bring so many Canadians with disabilities out of endless cycles of poverty.
What needs to happen now?
In order to ensure that the Government of Canada implements an effective and inclusive Canada Disability Benefit, it is going to take widespread engagement by disabled people from every corner of the country. Including leadership from Quebec and those from racial minorities, the indigenous community, and those discriminated against because of age, race, colour, gender, and sexuality. It will also take widespread popular support from regular Canadians. Finally, it will take bold political decision-making.
Join the Disability Without Poverty Movement!
Disability Without Poverty is a nationwide movement led by people with disabilities and supported by families, friends, service providers, allies and organizations. We need the support and involvement of all Canadians. Sign up to stay informed about Disability Without Poverty and the Canada Disability Benefit.