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.
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.
Since last fall, many individuals, groups, coalitions and organizations from across Canada have been hard at work learning, sharing, discussing, and working together to help shape the creation of this Benefit. If you would like to be part of this movement and support the efforts of the many organizations and individuals trying to end disability poverty, we encourage you to join us. Sign up here.
Canada Disability Benefit Resources and Information
Canada Disability Benefit Webinar Series – A two-part webinar series as preparation for the job ahead
- Part 1 – At long last, a Canada Disability Benefit is coming – What should it look like?
- Part 2 – Building momentum for the Canadian Disability Benefit