A coalition of anti-poverty and disability organizations urges the federal government to fully fund a new federal disability benefits program that will bring the incomes of all state disability program recipients above the poverty line. We ask that you keep your promise.
Many supporters of Bill C-22 now fear this benefit will still not receive the funding it needs in the 2024 federal budget to make a real difference in the lives of people with disabilities. are doing.
One of them is Bobby Giles, who is unable to work due to schizophrenia and a foot condition.
The Toronto man currently relies on $1,382 from the Ontario Disability Support Program, an additional $113 on special meals due to his diabetes, a supportive church community and a food bank to cover his basic needs. They have little economic freedom left to satisfy their needs and desires.
“The system is broken,” Giles said Friday at the Daily Bread food bank in Toronto’s west end. “Stable funding for people with disabilities will help curb food bank utilization, which is at an all-time high… You have to make a choice.”
Bill C-22, passed unanimously in June, aimed to lift people like Giles out of poverty by replenishing state support funding. However, this program has not yet been allocated funding, is not fully designed, and many believe that the program will not receive the funding it needs in this budget, which is expected to be announced in March or April. I am concerned that this may be the case.
Giles says funding federal benefit estates so everyone has enough money would give people the simple financial freedom they don’t have right now. When asked what he would do if he had more money each month to improve his life, he said he dreams small.
“For me, it’s lactose-free milk. It’s about $7.”
Benefits should be about $1,000 per person per month: advocate
Neil Hetherington, CEO of the group spearheading the initiative, the Daily Bread Food Bank, said bringing disability program recipients’ incomes above the poverty line would cost between $10 billion and $120 billion in the federal budget. He says this means allocating $1 billion.
Approximately 1 million people nationwide rely on inadequate state disability benefit programs.
Hetherington said the poverty line in Toronto is about $2,300 a month, so if a person with a disability receives less than $1,400 a month in provincial benefits, the federal government top-up would have to be closer to $1,000 a month. said.
A meeting between the Treasury and aid groups in December left Hetherington and others unconvinced.
Hetherington said Daily Bread and others told Treasury staff that $10 billion to $12 billion was the number needed.
“They met our expectations. ‘Listen, we’re talking about the federal deficit. We need to think about it when interest rates go up and it costs more to service that debt. ‘They said, ‘That’s typical of the commentary we get on austerity. ”
He said people with disabilities should not expect the amount requested, and that despite excitement about the program, supporters were left with the impression that not all of the money would be covered in the budget.
The federal government is tight-lipped about the numbers.
CBC Toronto asked the Treasury Department about this number and these concerns.
“We cannot speculate on what will or will not be included in the upcoming federal budget,” Treasury spokeswoman Katherine Kuplinskas said in an email.
It is common for governments to not answer questions about specific funding before the budget is submitted.
Laurent de Casanove, spokesperson for Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Kamal Khera, said in a statement: “Strengthening the economic security of Canadians living with a disability and supporting Canadians’ full inclusion in their communities. “Removing barriers is a key pillar.” We created Canada’s first Disability Inclusive Action Plan and the Accessible Canada Act. ”
Mr de Casanove said the government was working to talk to many members of the disability community to ensure their perspectives shaped benefits.
“We are focused on delivering benefits to eligible Canadians as quickly as possible,” De Casanove said.
Lack of funding could be costly, advocates say
Disabled people’s organizations and anti-poverty organizations are gaining support from the public. As of February 9, nearly 60,000 letters have been sent to politicians by Canadians supporting the call to fully fund federal disability benefits, according to the Daily Bread Food Bank.
Rabia Khedr, national director of advocacy group Disability Without Poverty, said the minimum requirement is to bring people with disabilities above the poverty line. In fact, many people face higher costs for assistive devices and other needs that are not fully covered.
She is choosing to remain hopeful, but is “concerned” that the government has not advertised that the program will be fully funded in the next budget.
“There will be a lot of disappointment and damage,” she said. “All the trust that has been built will be undermined by insufficient doses, and it will actually worsen the health and well-being of those who are currently struggling.”
He said the government needed to carefully consider the costs of not fully funding the program in this budget.
“People are suffering. We find ourselves falling deeper and deeper into poverty,” she said. “People with disabilities may end up requiring more support and services through health and social services than if their basic needs were met.”