After three years of consultations, legislative crafting, committee reviews and political pushing and pulling in the House of Commons and in the senate in Ottawa, the Canada Disability Benefit Act finally received royal assent on June 21, 2023. It’s intended to raise those living with disabilities in Canada out of poverty. But can it? Will it?
Join us for Season 3 of The 2030 Project podcast, a special mini-series dedicated to the new Canada Disability Benefit. Close to half of food bank clients in Toronto are living with a disability. Will the Canada Disability Benefit be enough to reduce or even eliminate poverty among people with disabilities? Tune in to find out.
Learn more about the new season of The 2030 Project, by checking out our episode highlights:
Episode 1: A new dawn
In this season premiere, we start the series off with a brief chat with Neil Hetherington, CEO and Talia Bronstein, Vice President of Research & Advocacy from the Daily Bread Food Bank, as they discuss what they’re looking to see in this new income program.
Episode 2: Nothing about us without us
With the passage of Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, advocates and activists across the country are at the frontlines pushing the federal government to make good on its promise of co-design regarding the development of regulations. In this episode, we are joined by Rabia Khedr, National Director of Disability Without Poverty (DWP) and CEO of DEEN Support Services; Neil Belanger, CEO, Indigenous Disability Canada (IDC) and the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS); and Amanda MacKenzie, National Director of Public Affairs, March of Dimes Canada. People with disabilities are experts on their own lives, and the disability community continues to push for inclusion in co-design beyond mere consultations. They explore best practices for engaging with people with disabilities and how to engage with Indigenous communities, who have been failed by government many times.
Episode 3: Who gets it?
As the federal government begins to develop the Canada Disability Benefit, the question of who’s eligible, and how will they qualify for this program come to the forefront. Who determines the eligibility of this program? How will the federal government work alongside provincial and territorial governments and private insurance companies to ensure those who need it actually, receive it? How does it account for the diversity in language and cultures across the country? How is disability defined and will it include those with episodic and/or invisible disabilities? In this episode, we are joined by Trevor Manson, Secretary Co-Chair, ODSP Action Coalition and Michelle Hewitt, Chair of the Board, Disability Without Poverty (DWP), who take us on a trip from Ontario to BC and back, as advocates continue to push for inclusion for all people with disabilities.
Episode 4: How do you get it?
We now turn to accessibility, and explore how the government can ensure that application and appeals processes are accessible to all people with disabilities. Should it be automatic qualification by proxy if someone is already receiving other disability benefits? What are the downsides to using the tax system to roll out the benefit? What should the appeals process look like if someone is denied the benefit? In this episode, we talk to Ron Anicich, Member, ODSP Action Coalition and an ODSP Recipient, Sarah Kennell, National Director of Public Policy, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA); and Jonathan Lai, Executive Director, Autism Alliance. Together we discuss how to define equal and meaningful accessibility of the Canada Disability Benefit from coast to coast.
Episode 5: Is it enough?
A key objective of the Canada Disability Benefit is to reduce, and potentially, eliminate poverty among people with disabilities while ensuring that people are not left worse off than they were before. This means that the amount of the benefit needs to be adequate to lift people with disabilities out of poverty, which raises the billion-dollar question: how much money is needed to eliminate poverty among people with disabilities? Should everyone get the same benefit, or should it reflect living expenses and specific disability related needs? How can we ensure that private insurers and provinces don’t claw back the benefits? In this episode, we are joined by Andrea Hatala, Recipient Co-Chair, ODSP Action Coalition; Bill Adair, Executive Director, Spinal Cord Injury Canada; and Adrian Merdzan, Staff Lawyer, Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC).
Episode 6: In conversation with Senator Petitclerc
In this episode, we are joined by one of the key policymakers behind the Canada Disability Benefit, The Honourable Chantal Petitclerc, a gold medal Paralympian and a sitting Senator from Quebec. Senator Petitclerc shares her perspectives and experiences as a policymaker living with a disability and discusses her efforts in the Senate to ensure that the Canada Disability Benefit takes into account the additional cost of living with a disability and the importance of co-design. Senator Petitclerc remains a strong advocate as the development of regulations continue to take place and offers insights to listeners looking to get involved.
Episode 7: The finale: A chat with Minister Khera
In the final episode of this special season of the 2030 Project Podcast focused on the Canada Disability Benefit, we are joined by the Honourable Kamal Khera, who was recently appointed Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities on July 26, 2023. Minister Khera discusses how the Canada Disability Benefit will help break barriers down by fostering accessibility, inclusiveness and supporting employment efforts for persons with disabilities. She underlines that the Canada Disability Benefit is a supplement to, not a replacement for, other benefits received by persons with disabilities; and stresses the importance of increasing the financial stability of the most vulnerable by reducing the barriers they face. As a committed advocate, Minister Khera emphasizes the use of intersectionality in her approach, and leaves listeners with a parting message urging them to continue to engage and collaborate with their communities and the government to realize a future where persons with disabilities do not have to live in poverty.