Canada’s unions are marking the International Day for Persons with Disabilities by renewing the call for a fast-tracked Canada Disability Benefit. People with disabilities continue to face significantly higher costs of living than people without disabilities and struggle to cover the cost of basic necessities including specialised equipment, prescriptions not covered by health insurance plans and accessible housing retrofits. These extra costs are a major contributing factor keeping people with disabilities living in poverty.
“These fundamental supports shouldn’t be available only to those who can afford them. These are necessities to living in dignity and the government of Canada must act urgently to adopt the Canada Disability Benefit,” said Lily Chang, Secretary Treasurer for the CLC. “This bill was introduced over two years ago and just passed second reading recently. The benefit would have a tremendous impact in lifting people with disabilities out of the disproportionately high levels of poverty they experience today. It’s time to act.”
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
Once adopted, the Canada Disability Benefit bill – or Bill C-22 – will provide a floor for adequate income support for people with disabilities in Canada, who represent close to 40% of working age people in our country. It would be the first federal guaranteed monthly income supplement aimed at people living with disabilities of its kind in Canada.
Working aged people with severe disabilities face the highest rates of poverty in Canada. And while inflation has skyrocketed across the country, provincial disability benefits are not index-linked. This means people with disabilities who are already struggling to make ends meet and who face existing barriers to accessing the unique and often expensive supports they need, have been hit the hardest by Canada’s ongoing affordability crisis.
“We continue to urge parties to work together to ensure a swift passage of Bill C-22 before this session of parliament closes, so the benefit can come into effect as soon as possible,” said Chang. “We look forward to collaborating with governments and our allies in the disability rights and anti-poverty movements to ensure the implementation of the benefit is equitable and meets the diverse needs of the people with disabilities in Canada. Canada must be a place to live a life of respect and dignity for people of all abilities.”
Follow the continued advocacy efforts of organisations led by people with disabilities, like Disability Without Poverty and Inclusion Canada, for more updates on the progress of the benefit.
Take action with the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada to support the new disability benefit by urging your member of parliament to fast track Bill C-22 here.
Learn more about what you can do to support workers with disabilities and advocate for a more accessible union and workplace here.