The federal government today reintroduced legislation to create a monthly benefit payment for working-age Canadians with disabilities.
“The purpose of this law and this benefit … is to reduce poverty and create financial security for working-age Canadians,” said the Minister of Employment, Labor Development and Employment Inclusion. Disability, Carla Qualtrough.
“We have a very good social security network in Canada, but that gap was identified years ago.”
Qualtrough said that children with disabilities can get support through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and that older people with disabilities can access Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. GIS), but working-age Canadians have been left to fend for themselves. for themselves.
“We’re changing that,” he said.
The Liberal government introduced Bill C-35 in June 2021, during the last Parliament. The bill received its first reading, but it died in the order paper when the 2021 federal election was called.
Earlier this month, the New Democrats filed a motion asking the federal government to re-offer disability benefits. The NDP’s non-binding motion was passed unanimously in the House of Commons. The party said it had tabled a motion to urge the government to act.
“I have to respect the will of the House, but we recently had a unanimous consent motion where all parties in the House supported the creation of Canada’s disability benefit,” Qualtrough said. “It seems to me that all parties understand that this should, and potentially, be able to overcome partisanship.”
A overdue bill
When asked why it took so long to reintroduce the bill, Qualtrough said he wanted to take the time to make sure the legislation was studied in detail.
Qualtrough said the benefit was inspired by GIS, but because the disability benefit is for people of working age, there are many ways in which Canada’s disability benefit could affect other payments that Canadians receive. at the provincial level.
“It’s really important to understand the interaction with provincial and territorial benefits,” he said. “I don’t want to create a benefit that disqualifies someone from their province’s pharmaceutical care, or from accessible traffic or disability supports.”
LOOK: Liberals Introduce New Disability Benefits Bill:
The Liberals introduce a new Disability Benefits Act
Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough introduced a new bill aimed at creating financial security for working-age Canadians with disabilities.
During the 2021 federal election campaign, the Liberals said there were more than a million Canadians with disabilities living in poverty and promised to address the issue.
The Liberals ’2021 platform pledged to introduce the benefit to help with the cost of transportation, medical procedures and other expenses. The platform said that once the benefit was implemented, it would offer “a direct monthly payment … for low-income Canadians with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64”.
The post-election letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Qualtrough led her to re-introduce the bill.
Complement of provincial benefits
When the C-35 was first introduced, it was not clear how much funding people would get or how. However, it did allow the government to establish most of the design elements of the benefit, including the conditions that must be met to receive it, the monetary value of the benefit, and how it would be indexed to inflation.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Thursday, Qualtrough did not disclose the monetary value of the profit. He said Bill C-22 was designed to raise beneficiaries to a level of income similar to that offered by the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which ensures that someone who receives the benefit earns about $ 19,000 a year in benefits. .
He also said that the benefit is being developed to supplement the existing provincial benefits, not to replace them.
“We will take into account the provincial-territorial contribution,” he said. “Unlike the Guaranteed Income Supplement, we are not committed to filling that 100% completely, but to working with the provinces to make sure people get there.”
Extensive support for movement
On Wednesday, a multi-party group of senators and members of parliament called for the government to re-introduce the bill, saying that while 22% of the population is made up of people with disabilities, 41% of Canadians they live in poverty have a disability.
“We have to live up to our promise to create a new benefit for people with disabilities. It’s as simple as that,” said Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith.
Senator Chantal Petitclerc, a Paralympic athlete appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Trudeau in 2016, is part of the Independent Senators Group. He said now is the time to take action.
“As one of the 22 per cent of Canadians with disabilities, I am aware of the barriers and inequalities that still exist and persist,” he said.
“As a senator, I am committed to ensuring that, in our country, everyone has the same opportunities and the tools to reach their full potential and actively contribute to society.”