In the September 2020 Throne Speech, the federal government in Ottawa promised to establish a monthly Canada Disability Benefit. They reinforced their promise in Minister Carla Qualtrough’s mandate letter and in the May 2021 federal Budget.
The government’s promise did not have many details. They said it would be modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for seniors, which is stacked on top of Old Age Security (OAS).
That means that the Canada Disability Benefit would be stacked on top of the existing benefits people with disabilities currently receive. For example, it would be in addition to provincial and territorial income assistance, CPP – Disability, Veteran’s Disability Benefits, Worker’s Compensation, EI-Sickness, private insurance and other disability support programs.
There are many questions to be answered before the Canada Disability Benefit becomes a reality.
Three important ones are:
- What will be the amount of the monthly benefit?
- Who will be eligible?
- How can we prevent clawback of existing benefits that disabled people currently receive?
In order to answer these questions and to get a better understanding of how the Canada Disability Benefit might work,we consulted with economists and inclusive design experts.
We worked out some basic principles to guide our work:
- Include people with disabilities in the design of the Canada Disability Benefit.
- Create a disability income support system based on the principles of equity and autonomy.
- Acknowledge the extra costs associated with disability.
- Raise the income of Canadians with disabilities above the poverty line.
- Make sure everyone currently receiving disability benefits (at the federal, provincial and territorial level and from private insurers) is automatically eligible for the Canada Disability Benefit.
- Create a separate application for those not currently receiving any type of disability benefit.
- Make eligibility simpler and consistent across the country.
- Include a generous earnings exemption.
- Index the Canada Disability Benefit to the disability cost of living.
- The Canada Disability Benefit administration and application process must not be managed by CRA.
- No clawback. Maintaining existing health benefits, transportation allowances, adaptive equipment, employment supports and other in-kind benefits available from provincial and territorial governments.
- Establish CDB as an individual income-based benefit – not family based benefit. This would prevent people from being disqualified from the CDB or having their benefits clawed back if they are in a relationship.
poverty & disability
2021 | Canada Disability Benefit Design Recommendations
Our friends at Inclusion Canada have developed an overview of the Canada Disability Benefit along with Design Recommendations. We appreciate their advocacy to secure a Canada Disability Benefit and the important points they raise.