The House of Commons and the Senate passed the Canada Disability Benefit Act earlier in June, and was given the Royal Assent on June 22, 2023.  

The benefit was created to provide financial assistance to low-income, working-age people with disabilities. The passing of this benefit comes at a crucial time for people with disabilities.  

Rabia Khedr is the national director of Disability without Poverty, a grassroots-based advocacy organization led by people with disabilities and their allies.  

“We know before the pandemic that people with disabilities lived in deep poverty. During the pandemic, this poverty worsened and people felt more left behind and excluded. With the pandemic ending and inflation rising, people with disabilities are even further marginalized in deep, deep poverty,” Khedr said.  

It is estimated that approximately 22.5 percent of Canadians with disabilities live in poverty.  

“The existing benefits [disabled people] receive through provinces, other federal programs, or the earnings they are able to have are insufficient to even get [disabled people] to the poverty line. Most benefits are 40 per cent or lower beneath the poverty line and people are struggling,” Khedr said.  

Now that the law has been passed, a twelve-month period has started where the government is required to outline the regulations of the benefit, such as how much money will be provided and who will be eligible.  

It was estimated that the money from the benefit may be reaching participants by December 2024, but, due to the importance of providing low-income disabled Canadians with assistance, Disability Without Poverty is pushing for funds to be in people’s hands by summer 2024.  

Although the benefit has been passed, Disability Without Poverty is still working to advocate that people with disabilities be involved in the decision -making process for the benefit.  

With the passing of the benefit, concerns have been raised that the law does not include an amendment preventing insurance providers from clawing back support. Disability Without Poverty is working with provincial governments to ensure continued financial support.  

“It is life changing and life-saving for the people that will at the end receive the supplemental benefit,” Khedr said. “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It will be a painful process, but, at the end of the process, there is hope. There is something good coming to help people with disability be lifted out of poverty.”  

Those looking to support the efforts of Disability Without Poverty can find more information on their website.