National AccessAbility Week: Income Security Critical to Accessibility

May 29, 2024

Canada’s unions mark National AccessAbility Week by calling on the federal government to support people with disabilities amid Canada’s cost of living crisis. Poverty remains a significant barrier to economic and social inclusion for persons with disabilities.   

National AccessAbility Week celebrates the valuable contributions of people with disabilities in Canada and highlights the actions needed to create an accessible Canada.

In 2020, the government announced its intention to implement the first of its kind, federal-level guaranteed monthly income supplement aimed at working-age people living with disabilities. But as rent and groceries continue to rise, the government recently announced that the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB) will only be $200.00 per month (or just $6.66 per day). 

“After years of anticipation, we were profoundly disappointed at the announcement of the benefit. Along with our allies in the disability rights community, we were disheartened to learn that the amount would work out to a mere $6.66 per day, and that eligibility would be based on the inaccessible Disability Tax Credit,” said Lily Chang, Secretary-Treasurer of the CLC. “Accessibility isn’t possible without income security.”

The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) program currently excludes many individuals who face significant barriers to qualifying, meaning many people with disabilities who are currently in poverty would not get the benefit. 

22% of people in Canada identify as having a disability. Yet, they make up 41% of the population living in poverty. There are many contributors to high rates of poverty among people with disabilities, including inaccessible workplaces, high medical costs and meagre provincial supports. 

The purpose of the CDB is to “reduce poverty and to support the financial security of working-age persons with disabilities”. The Canada Disability Benefit Act acknowledges the additional costs associated with living with a disability, the challenges that people with disabilities face in employment, intersecting systems of oppression faced by people with disabilities and Canada’s international human rights obligations. The amount and eligibility fail to reflect the goals and realities underlying this legislation.

“We echo the demands of our disability justice allies: the government must invest more in the CDB by the Fall 2024 Economic Statement, broaden eligibility through the regulations, and fully review and reform the DTC program. The provincial and territorial governments must commit to not clawing back the CDB. As modest as it is, it will be worse if it’s deducted from any provincial benefits people receive,” said Chang. “People with disabilities cannot wait any longer; they need economic security now.” 

You can learn more about National AccessAbility Week here.

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