June 22, 2023
Today, after tireless advocacy from Canadians living with disabilities Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, received Royal Assent. The Canada Disability Benefit Act creates a new supplemental income for people living with a disability, which seeks to support financial security for a community that is twice as likely to live in poverty.
On behalf of the undersigned organizations, and the thousands of people with disabilities who provided their stories, perspectives, and lived experiences during the legislative process, we acknowledge this milestone that has been accomplished. Today we celebrate, but tomorrow we continue to keep the federal government’s feet to the fire to deliver on the promise of the Canada Disability Benefit Act.
Today’s achievement could not have happened without the leadership and commitment from Canada’s national politicians. Led by the vision championed by the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion, Members of Parliament and Senators unanimously supported and agreed that people with disabilities must be freed from poverty. This is a direct testament to the decades of advocacy, activism, and relentless action from our community and allies. The voices of the disability community made the Canada Disability Benefit Act a reality, and it is these voices that will shape the program to come.
While today’s news is an important step, it does not implement the new Canada Disability Benefit. Cabinet must agree on a date when this legislation “comes into force” and then the regulatory process will begin. It is this process that will determine important elements of the Canada Disability Benefit, such as eligibility, the application process, appeals process, and the amount of the benefit. Importantly, the federal government has committed to co-designing this program with the disability community and has pledged to do so in the legislation.
We know that the expectations of the Canada Disability Benefit Act are high. For far too long, people with disabilities have relied on inadequate social assistance programs that trap them into poverty – these programs provide the bare minimum to survive and penalize those who are married or looking for employment. Support for people with disabilities is not universal across jurisdictions, placing individuals at significant disadvantage. People with disabilities need the Canada Disability Benefit up and running, now.
Today’s passage of Bill C-22 is historic. Let us celebrate this milestone with focus to a future where people with disabilities are lifted from poverty. Such a dream is within our reach.
Autism Alliance of Canada
BCANDS/Indigenous Disability Canada
Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work
Deafblind Community Services
Disability Without Poverty
Maple Leaf Centre for Food Insecurity
March of Dimes Canada
National Mental Health Inclusion Network
Rick Hansen Foundation
Spinal Cord Injury Canada
Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada
Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility