Majority believe existing disability benefits are inadequate, eliminating disability poverty is ‘the right thing to do’
(Vancouver, BC) — A national poll reveals that a substantial majority of Canadians support fast action by the federal government to end disability poverty.
In an Angus Reid poll released today, 89 per cent of Canadians said they were in favour of a Canadian Disability Benefit as proposed by the federal government. The majority support the benefit because it’s “the right thing to do” (57 per cent) and because the current levels of support for disabled people are inadequate (59 per cent). Eighty-eight per cent agreed with the statement: “It’s time the country came together to end disability poverty.”
The online survey includes viewpoints of a randomized sample of 2,103 Canadians from the general population and 858 Canadians living with disability. It was commissioned by Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), a non-profit based in Vancouver, on behalf of the newly launched national disability-led movement, Disability without Poverty.
The survey found people living with disability earn significantly less than people with no disabilities and that this gap increases with the severity of the disability. Two in five Canadians living with disability report that they are stressed about money often or all the time.
The survey also found Canadians with and without disability are well aware that living with a disability is costly. Eighty-five per cent of survey respondents living with disability confirmed this reporting they have higher costs of living and extra expenses as a result of their disability, including medical costs and equipment.
“We’re delighted Canadians support what we’ve known all along,” says Rebecca Pauls, Executive Director of PLAN, “that living with a disability comes with higher costs of living.”
“Disability and poverty go hand in hand unfortunately,” says Guillaume Parent, Disability without Poverty’s National Director for French Canada. “According to Statistics Canada, people with disabilities account for 41 per cent of the low-income population,” he adds.
Unfortunately, awareness of current disability benefits is poor. Both people with disabilities (67 per cent) and people without (59 per cent) say they are either not very familiar with supports available or do not know anything about it.
“The Canada Disability Benefit will be on top of existing benefits that disabled people get from provinces and territories,” says Rabia Khedr, Disability without Poverty’s National Director for English Canada. “I’m particularly pleased that the majority of survey respondents said that the Canada Disability Benefit should be set above the poverty level,” she adds.
The survey also reveals that Canadians have little confidence in provincial and federal governments to manage current benefits and that the three-year consultation timeline for the Canadian Disability Benefit is too slow (74 per cent).
“That’s the main reason we organized ourselves into a movement,” says Michelle Hewitt co-chair of Disability Without Poverty. “This job is too big for government to do on its own. We need a united disability movement and the support of all Canadians. It’s an historic occasion. No other government in the world has ever made such a commitment.”
“If done well, The Canadian Disability Benefit will significantly reduce poverty for two million disabled people the way the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) did for seniors and the way the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) lifted 400,000 children out of poverty,” says Luca Patuelli, the other co-chair of Disability Without Poverty.