OTTAWA – Almost 18,000 Canadians have signed a parliamentary petition – sponsored by Green Party MP Mike Morrice (Kitchener Centre) – calling on the federal government to fast-track the development and implementation of a new Canada Disability Benefit.
Mr. Morrice rose in the House of Commons today to present the petition, which was drafted by Michelle Hewitt, co-chair of Disability Without Poverty. Forty-three senators have co-signed a letter of support. The petition calls on the federal government to not only fast-track the development and implementation of this lifeline, but to ensure that people living with disabilities are involved every step of the way.
Ms. Hewitt said she hopes the government will move quickly to address this longstanding gap in Canada’s social safety net while honouring its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“Disabled people have lived in poverty for far too long,” she said. “They lived in poverty before the pandemic, and this has only been exacerbated during the pandemic. We expect the Canada Disability Benefit to make major strides to eradicating this poverty.
“We now call on the government to fast-track its implementation, co-creating its design and implementation with an independent panel of disabled people. We are grateful to MP Mike Morrice for joining us on this journey to ensure that all people in Canada, including disabled people, have a decent standard of living.”
After Mr. Morrice presented the petition in the House of Commons today, the government has 45 days to provide an official response. The benefit would make Canada the first country to provide a livable income supplement for people with disabilities, as was done for seniors and children. Some estimates place the number of unhoused Canadians living with a disability or mental illness as high as 45 per cent of the overall unsheltered population.
The federal government promised to introduce a new Canada Disability Benefit in 2020, with the potential to lift 1.5 million Canadians out of poverty. The Liberals repeated this commitment in their 2021 election platform, but there was no mention of it in the 2021 Speech to the Throne, or the fall fiscal update.
“Last June, an Angus Reid poll found that 89 per cent of Canadians are in favour of a Canada Disability Benefit,” said Mr. Morrice. “It’s far past time to make this happen, and our neighbours can’t wait three more years for a study when we already know what needs to be done.
“We are prepared to work with governments, with civil society, with everyone involved, regardless of their politics, regardless of the party to bring forward the bill that truly benefits every person with a disability living in poverty,” said Rabia Khedr, National Director of Disability Without Poverty.
“This means ensuring that people with disabilities are involved in the design, negotiation, and implementation of the disability benefit.”
The government has said the benefit, a guaranteed minimum income supplement, would be modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for seniors, which is stacked on top of Old Age Security (OAS).
For more information or to arrange an interview:
1-613-562-4916 ext. 215
Senior Communications Advisor
MP Mike Morrice, Kitchener Centre