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Federal benefit ‘life-changing’ for Canadians with disabilities: advocate

By Brad Perry Jun 26, 2023 | 7:01 AM

Disability advocates are applauding a new federal bill which received royal assent last week.

Bill C-22 will create a federal income supplement for working-age people with disabilities.

Shelley Petit, chair of the New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, said this has been a long time coming.

“Is it perfect? No. But it is life-altering and life-changing for so many people in Canada and we are just ecstatic,” Petit said in an interview.

According to federal figures, there are 6.2 million Canadians with disabilities and 23 per cent live in poverty — twice the rate of those without disabilities.

Petit said the Canada Disability Benefit will help lift so many working-age people out of poverty.

“It means eating nutritious foods, it means getting the medications that aren’t currently covered under the provincial plan or getting treatments that they don’t cover,” said Petit.

“The lack of nutrition is not good for anyone, but when your body is trying to fight you daily, it is even more harmful and this situation always ends up costing the medical community more in both the immediate and long term.”

While Bill C-22 has received royal assent and is now law, it could be another year or so before funds start flowing.

That is because specific regulations still need to be developed to design and deliver the benefit to Canadians.

“Most of the meat and potatoes of the bill have not been worked out yet,” said Petit.

Consultations will take place over the coming months, considering things like how Canadians will qualify and whether there should be different amounts depending on where an individual lives.

Petit said they also want to ensure the benefit does not claw back any current provincial services that people receive.

The federal government said it will work closely with the provinces and territories to harmonize the benefit with existing supports administered by all levels of government.


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