Tim Louis: Why the Canada Disability Benefit should be a priority for everyone this election

According to Statistics Canada, approximately 6.2 million Canadians over the age of 15 report having at least one disability

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      The time is now for a Canada Disability Benefit.

      My good friend Al Etmanski has been hard at work for many years to reduce/eliminate the poverty experienced by 1.4 million Canadians with disabilities.

      We should never count our chickens before they hatch, but victory may be just around the corner. Most parties in the current federal election have included some form of increased financial commitment to people with disabilities in their platforms. The exceptions are the People’s Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois, which have made no specific commitment to the Canada Disability Benefit or any other increase in financial support for people living with disabilities.

      The campaign to create a basic income type of program for disabled people began in 2016 here in B.C. That’s when Inclusion BCDisability Alliance BC, the BC Aboriginal Network on Disability, the Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), the Burnaby Association for Community InclusionMichael Prince from the University of Victoria, RDSP Action group chair Norah Flaherty, and Al Etmanski came together, developing the concept with help from former Senator Hugh Segal.

      The movement to institute a Canada Disability Benefit is now being led by people with disabilities promoting Disability Without Poverty.

      According to Statistics Canada, approximately 6.2 million Canadians over the age of 15 report having at least one disability. More importantly, 41 percent of all Canadians living below the poverty level are disabled, approximately 1.4 million individuals.

      A recent study by the nonprofit Angus Reid Institute working with PLAN found that 89 percent of Canadians are in favour of a Canada Disability Benefit. Nearly two-thirds believe that the proposed benefit should raise incomes above the poverty line because of the additional costs associated with having a disability. Eighty-eight percent of Canadians agree with the statement, “It’s time the country came together to end disability poverty.”

      On June 22, 2021, the federal government responded by introducing legislation to create the new Canada Disability Benefit. The federal government has crunched the numbers. A Canada Disability Benefit would reduce the government’s general poverty-reduction targets by 50 percent.

      Less than two months later the election was called, which means new legislation to establish a Canada Disability Benefit will need to be introduced by the next elected government.

      If you believe it is time for a Canada Disability Benefit, I urge you to contact all of the candidates in your riding and let them know. Candidate and other election information is available through Elections Canada.

      Daily atmospheric CO2 [Courtesy of CO2.Earth]

      Latest daily total (Sept. 8, 2021): 413.45 ppm

      One year ago (Sept. 8, 2020): 411.98 ppm

      Tim Louis is a Vancouver lawyer and former city councillor and park commissioner. This article first appeared on his blog, which lists the daily carbon dioxide count in parts per million in the atmosphere at the end of every post. The Georgia Straight publishes opinions like this from the community to encourage constructive debate on important issues.