April 24, 2024

On April 16, the federal government presented its budget. Expectations were high, especially regarding the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB) and housing issues. Unfortunately, the federal government was unable to meet expectations with regard to the CDB.

The Canada Disability Benefit

Background

The Canada Disability Benefit is a monetary benefit created by the adoption of Bill C-22 in June 2023. The bill specified that the CDB was to be used to lift hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of poverty by providing them with income support, in complement to provincial and territorial programs (e.g., Quebec’s Social Solidarity and Basic Income programs). However, the bill did not specify amounts, eligibility criteria or other details on how the CDB would work.

Although details were lacking when Bill C-22 was passed, the creation of the CDB was hailed as a historic step forward by disability groups and social policy experts in Canada.

Measures announced in the federal budget

The 2024-2025 federal budget clarified a number of important parameters relating to the CDB.

Amount of the CDB

The first thing, and probably the most important, is the amount of the benefit. The maximum annual amount announced is $2400, or $200 per month. Not everyone will be entitled to the maximum, but for the moment there is no indication of how much people will be entitled to, as the details of the regulations have not yet been published.

By comparison, advocacy organizations in Canada have been asking for up to $2400 a month. This is a major disappointment for both the organizations and the individuals themselves, for whom the CDB will certainly not be enough to lift them out of poverty.

Access to the CDB

The other important aspect of the budget is the method of access to the CDB. The federal government has decided that only people receiving the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) will have access to the CDB.

Disabled people’s organizations have criticized this decision heavily, as it is quite difficult to qualify for the DTC. This is particularly the case for Francophones, who use the DTC less than the rest of the population in Canada. The organizations were asking that all people who are recipients of provincial or territorial financial assistance programs for people with disabilities should have access to the DTC. So this is another disappointment.

CDB in a nutshell and our reaction to the announcements

To learn more about the measures announced and our reaction, you can watch the following video (in French).

Other budget measures

Despite disappointments over the amount and eligibility criteria of the CDB, the government did announce at least one measure that seems to satisfy advocacy organizations. In the future, the cost of filling out medical forms to assess eligibility for the Disability Tax Credit are set to be reimbursed. There are no details on this measure, however we will monitor progress.

Other measures to support people with disabilities have also been announced, but very few details are available.

The future of the Canada Disability Benefit

The Quebec Intellectual Disability Society had the opportunity to meet with the federal minister’s office and express dissatisfaction with the amount of and access criteria for the CDB.

We have asked the federal government to improve the CDB in the fall economic update. The government must respect the legislation passed unanimously by the House of Commons and the Senate, and act to truly lift hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of poverty. This is the message we will continue to repeat in all forums. We will also participate in the actions of our Canadian federation, Inclusion Canada. Our members will be encouraged to take action over the next few months to call on federal elected officials to do more in relation to the CDB.

In addition, we will continue to call on the Quebec government to let the federal government manage the benefit without the province withdrawing with compensation. We believe that given the current landscape of last-resort financial assistance programs, it is more advantageous for persons with disabilities to receive the CDB directly from the federal government, rather than through provincial programs.

If you have any questions about CDB, please contact Samuel Ragot at [email protected].