Canadians Concerned About Disability Poverty, On-Board with Proposed New National Benefit

Survey of Canadians living with disability underlines relative poverty, other social barriers June 22, 2021

Recognizing the challenges faced by Canadians with disabilities –
problems that have only been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic – the federal Liberal government laid out plans to help in its September 2020 Speech from the Throne. The government promised a new Canadian Disability Benefit, modelled after the seniors’ guaranteed income supplement.

Details since the fall have been scarce, but in the spring budget the federal government set aside almost $12 million over three years to consult and reform existing programs and benefits with an eye towards the new unified benefit.

Support for the benefit is evident, according to a new study by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute in partnership with the Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN). Nearly nine-in-10 (89%) Canadians are in favour of a Canadian Disability Benefit. That overwhelming support comes perhaps because most (59%) believe the current supports and benefits available to people living with disabilities are inadequate.

It is also desperately needed, according to Canadians living with disabilities. Many of the more than 800 Canadians living with disability surveyed report experiencing financial stress, express less satisfaction with their personal life and have less hope for the future than those without disabilities. Respondents with disabilities also say they face barriers to employment, education, and activities they would enjoy. These barriers are even more pronounced for those with lower household incomes.

More Key Findings:

Canadians understand living with a disability comes with a higher cost of living, and two-in-five Canadians living with a disability report that they are stressed about money often or all the time.

People with disabilities are dissatisfied with their personal happiness (28%) and their outlook for the future (36%) at nearly the double rate of those without (15% and 19%, respectively).

Awareness of current benefits is low. Both people with disabilities (67%) and people without (59%) say they are either not very familiar with the supports available or do not know anything about it.

There is very little confidence in the provincial or federal government in managing current supports or benefits. Three-in-five (62%) say they have no or little confidence in the federal government to manage it while two-thirds (67%) say the same of their provincial government.

The majority of people (57%) believe the Canadian Disability Benefit is the right thing to do, and 88 per cent agree with the statement “A CDB is an essential commitment for the government to make. It’s time the country came together to end disability poverty.”

And nearly two-thirds (63%) believe the CDB should be set above the poverty level.

Most people surveyed (74%) believe the three-year consultation timeline for the CDB is too slow.

Link to the poll here: