Canada’s unions are marking National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) by calling on the federal government to address systemic inequities and help end disability poverty by immediately tabling the long-promised Canada Disability Benefit.
“It is past time that the Canada Disability Benefit be re-introduced in Parliament and fast-tracked into legislation,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “With COVID-19 still disrupting our lives and the cost of living sharply increasing, this legislation is critical to improving economic security and quality of life for persons with disabilities.”
First promised in the 2020 Speech from the Throne, Bill C-35, aimed to establish the Canada Disability Benefit. It was tabled in June 2021, but died on the Order Paper when the 2021 federal election was called.
Earlier this month, the federal NDP introduced a motion calling on the federal government to re-offer its proposed disability benefit. The motion passed unanimously in the House of Commons, putting pressure on the Liberal government to reintroduce Bill C-35.
While consultations are underway regarding the specifics of the benefit’s design, disability groups have been advocating for a fast-tracking of the legislation and drafting of the benefit to help address the critical and immediate needs of the disability community.
“The theme for this year’s NAAW is ‘Inclusive from the start’. Yet so many people with disabilities face tremendous barriers to inclusion – barriers to employment, to affordable, accessible and supportive housing, to access the care they need to live dignified lives. Many fall through the cracks of existing income support systems and as a result experience significant poverty and marginalization” said Lily Chang, CLC Secretary‑Treasurer. “A well-designed Canada Disability Benefit would help lift people out of poverty. Without it, meaningful inclusion is not possible.”
NAAW runs from May 29 to June 4. The week is an important opportunity to celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities, highlight the critical work being undertaken to eliminate barriers and strengthen calls for improved accessibility and greater disability inclusion.
Email your MP to urge them to support and help fast-track the Canada Disability Benefit using Disability Without Poverty’s “Write Your MP” tool.
Check out Doing Things Differently: A Disability Rights At Work Handbook. The CLC resource includes a comprehensive guide on the duty to accommodate, a checklist for organizing accessible events and many more practical resources for supporting disability rights in our workplaces, in our unions and in our communities.