MPs and Senators Sign Open Letter to Fast-Track Bill C-35

The act to reduce poverty and to support the financial security of persons with disabilities by establishing the Canada disability benefit, C-35, was introduced to the House of Commons in June 2021. This act would be an amendment to the Income Tax Act and would provide a livable income supplement to Canadians with disabilities. 

The urgency of this legislation has been further emphasized by an open letter signed by over 70 Members of Parliament across party lines and co-signed by 43 senators in support of fast-tracking the Canada Disability Benefit. 

The letter was signed by Morrice; Tim Louis, MP Kitchener Conestoga; Bardish Chagger, MP Waterloo; and Bryan May, MP of Cambridge, have all signed the open letter in support of the Canada Disability Benefit.

“We all belong to political parties. But we can work together, and we should work together…I certainly was proud to sign [the letter] along with my colleagues of different political stripes, because we want to see this moving forward as fast as possible,” Louis said. 

Organizations like Disability without Poverty have advocated for the Canada Disability Benefit for many years, however, the bill has often been overlooked. Morrice said signatories of the petition are joining the organizations in their call for action. 

In February, Mike Morrice, MP for Kitchener Centre, introduced  a petition signed by almost 18,000 Canadians to the House of Commons urging the government to fast-track considering the bill. This petition was led by Disability Without Poverty, an organization that is working towards ending disability poverty in Canada. 

“We are optimistic that it will be tabled, we’re confident that it will be tabled; the issue is when,” Rabia Khedr, National Director of Disability without Poverty, said. “Time is ticking away. There’s no time to delay, there’s no time to politick around it. We need it tabled. We need all parties to support it and fast-track it. Because people with disabilities are making life-and-death choices. This is the reality.”

There are approximately six million Canadians with a disability, about 22 per cent of the country’s population. However, people with disabilities make up approximately 40 per cent of Canada’s low-income population. Disability Without Poverty has been pushing the importance of a disability benefit as Canada’s disability poverty problem can be deadly for Canadians with Disabilities. 

“People are resorting to crowdsourcing platforms to raise money to pay their bills, to buy food. People are sending out crisis messages on Whatsapp asking for money to buy essential supplies to manage their disability on a daily basis—to be able to breathe, to be able to function,” Khedr said. 

Disability Without Poverty is asking people to contact their representatives in support of the Canada Disability Benefit and to tweet using the hashtag #WheresTheBill. Supporters are also encouraged to follow Disability Without Poverty and Rabia Khedr on Twitter. 

“Write to your local elected officials at all different levels and contact them. My office and myself, we’re constantly checking our emails and phones and having conversations, and you do take notice when things hit what I call critical mass,” Louis said. “When you’re getting enough letters from people and phone calls and conversations that you know that your community is standing up.”

“Poverty does not wait. It’s a daily lived reality of people and people’s lives and quality of life. And we have people today who are making life-and-death choices because of their financial circumstances,” Khedr said. 


Rachael is a Staff Writer for the Community Edition