Liberals leave disability benefits bill in limbo as Parliament rises for summer – Vancouver Island Free Daily


Shelley Petit said the financial situations currently facing Canadians with disabilities are “horrible”.

“I know people who eat a piece of bread a day, that’s what they can afford,” said Petit, chair of the New Brunswick Disability Coalition and who also indicated that she lives with a disability.

“It’s horrible because every month you have to make decisions: ‘Can I eat this month? Can I pay a basic bill? Can I go see my mother? “, did she say. “My mother is old and sick, it is important to go see her. She lives 45 minutes away.

The federal Liberal government has not called for a debate on its disability benefits legislation before the House of Commons summer break, despite measures promised since 2020 and recent calls from organizations across the country.

The bill to create a monthly benefit check for working-age Canadians with disabilities would be a game-changer, Petit said, by supplementing benefits received from the New Brunswick government with about $500 more in its pocket. each month.

“It’s food, it’s medicine, it’s being able to get socks that aren’t full of holes or buy new underwear,” she said, adding that the influx of The money could also help people pay for treatments that might offer relief but are not covered by government health care plans.

“I live in Canada and have a master’s degree in education. But I can no longer work because of my disability. My life should be better than this,” Petit said.

“I’m angry. Because no one should have to live like this because they have a disability.

Jobs Minister Carla Qualtrough reintroduced the bill in early June, but without any new details on who will be eligible, how much they would receive or when the money will start flowing.

More than 75 groups representing Canadians with disabilities called on the government in a letter last week to hold a second reading before the House adjourns for the summer break.

Petit said the bill should have already passed.

“It should have been a done deal.”

On Wednesday, Green Party MP Mike Morrice denounced the government’s slow work to bring the benefit to the House.

“It’s been 20 days and we haven’t debated a single time yet. Nine other bills have been prioritized since then,” Morrice said.

“Canadians with disabilities continue to live disproportionately in poverty across the country. They want to see emergency aid. They want to see action.

The Canada Disability Benefit is to be modeled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement, in line with a promise first made by the Liberals in September 2020.

A bill introduced nearly a year ago died without passage when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called an election last summer.

The new bill is identical to the original, creating the benefit in principle but leaving almost all of the details of how the benefit will work to regulations that are not yet complete.

When the bill was reintroduced, Qualtrough did not commit to a timeline for completing the settlement, saying consultations were underway even though it took the government months to reintroduce the same bill on the table for debate.

The settlement will specify who would be eligible, the amount of the benefit, how often it will be paid and how, and an appeal process if claims are denied.

There is also concern that the benefit may interact negatively with provincial programs, resulting in clawbacks on other programs, which is not the intention.

Now that debate on the bill and progress on its process will be pushed back until parliament resumes in September, Petit said his biggest fear was that “we could be looking at a year and a half before he not become law again”.

Jane Deeks, spokesperson for Qualtrough, said in a statement on Friday that alongside the legislative process to create the Canada Disability Benefit, the government must work closely with the disability community to inform the design of the benefit. , work that is “on track”.

The federal government must continue to work with the provinces and territories to ensure that the benefit complements existing provincial and territorial supports and benefits, “and everyone who receives it does better,” Deeks said.

“We will continue to work hard, both in the House of Commons and with the disability community across Canada, to make this a reality.

New Democrat MP Bonita Zarrillo, the party’s Disability Inclusion Critic, said Friday: ‘It is deeply disappointing that people with disabilities in Canada are left without support as the cost of living soars. arrow, without the Canadian disability benefit that was promised to them by this government. .”

Zarrillo said that for the second year in a row, the Liberals waited until the last minute to introduce legislation on the benefit, giving MPs no opportunity to debate or improve the assistance offered to Canadians.

“People with disabilities have been given false hope and are now grappling with rising costs of basic necessities,” she said, adding that by failing to act, the Liberals are reminding people with disabilities that they are not a government priority.

— Erika Ibrahim, The Canadian Press


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