Canada Disability Benefit Delay Stirs Mounting Frustration Among Disabled Community


The Disability community in Canada continues its patient vigil for the highly anticipated Canada Disability Benefit, a federal programme that has been promised for years. The newly assigned minister in charge, Kamal Khera, reassures that her primary focus is to execute the programme effectively.

In her conversation with CTV News, Minister Khera acknowledged the eagerness of Canadians with disabilities to see the benefit realized. She reiterated her commitment to careful and considerate execution of what she described as a “generational national program,” striking a balance between speed and due diligence, with active engagement from the disability community.

Bill C-22, informally known as the Canada Disability Benefit, received unanimous approval in Parliament on June 20 and went through a series of amendments in the Senate. The initially proposed bill expired in the House alongside the recent federal election duration. Former Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister, Carla Qualtrough, had advanced the bill. The federal Liberals have felt tremendous pressure to deliver on their commitment since its fall.

Upon realization, the legislation proposes an income supplement to hundreds of thousands of low-income, working-age Canadians with disabilities. The program will mirror the Guaranteed Income Supplement in its implementation. Federal statistics state that over 900,000 working-age Canadians with disabilities live in poverty and merely 55% of Canadians with disabilities aged between 25 to 64 possess employment.

Although Bill C-22’s passage was lauded as a monumental milestone by the disability advocacy community, questions regarding the benefit’s scope and size prompted focus shift to the regulatory procedures that will establish its parameters. In her interview, Minister Khera did not provide specific details on the benefit but emphasized its intent as a practical co-creation with the disability community.

When passed, it was estimated that it could take over a year to establish the benefit before any funds are disbursed. In the federal budget allocation, $21.5 million was allotted to be used in the fiscal year 2023-24 towards the benefit’s future delivery. However, no federal money has been reserved to finance what could be a multibillion-dollar-a-year programme when initiated.

In July, the federal government delineated the timeline and particulars for regulations. It is anticipated that the final benefit framework will not be in motion until well into 2024. A two-phase engagement process, commencing with a regulatory design phase involving roundtables and meetings, is expected, culminating in an online survey and open submission process, followed by a rigorous review of proposed regulations.

Khera emphasized that the Canada Disability Benefit should function as an income supplement, not a replacement. As frustration among the disabled community mounts, an e-petition demanding an interim aid dubbed “disability emergency relief” has gathered momentum, backed by over 5,200 Canadians at the time of publishing.

The new minister made it clear that while no interim financial relief is presently considered, her focus is on implementing a “long-term solution” as swiftly as possible. In an interview with CTV News, petitioner Jeffrey Salisbury voiced his disenchantment at the continued delay in establishing this federal support. He criticized the Liberals for their lackadaisical approach to the program’s prioritization.

The e-petition remains open for signatures until September 10. Thereafter, Green Party MP Mike Morrice, its sponsor, may present it to the House of Commons. While the government is not compelled to act on any e-petitions, they are obliged to respond within 45 days.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here