Canada’s unions are celebrating the passage of Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, after it received royal assent on June 22.
“We have stood in solidarity with disability activists and organizations who have lobbied for this benefit for years. Today is a historic moment to celebrate these efforts and reaffirm labour’s support to lift the floor on disability poverty from coast to coast.” said Bea Bruske, President of the CLC. “This win belongs to all the disability rights and justice activists who fought so hard to get us here.”
Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, was first promised in the September 2020 throne speech and proposed a new benefit program specifically targeting persons with disabilities in Canada. This benefit is to be distributed in addition to existing programs at the provincial and federal level that offer financial supports for persons with disabilities in Canada.
Once implemented, the new benefit would be the first federal-level guaranteed monthly income supplement aimed at people living with disabilities of its kind in Canada.
According to Statistics Canada, people with disabilities make up 41% of the low-income population in Canada, compared with 18% of the non-low-income population. 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 look forward to continued solidarity and collaboration with the activists and organizations who have led these efforts to pass C-22, and to work with the government to ensure that the implementation of the new Canada Disability Benefit is well-resourced in the next budget,” said Lily Chang, Secretary-Treasurer of the CLC.