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Canada Disability Benefit Act passes Parliament

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Yesterday, Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, received royal assent from Canada’s Governor General and CNIB Patron, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon. This important step concludes the legislative process and allows Cabinet to build the new Canada Disability Benefit. CNIB has signed onto a joint release with other disability organizations to celebrate this accomplishment and prepare for the regulatory process.  

“For far too long, many people who are blind, low vision, or Deafblind, have lived below the poverty line, struggling to get by,” said Robert Fenton, Chair of CNIB’s National Board of Directors. “It is my hope that the Canada Disability Benefit will help to lift people with sight loss and other disabilities out of poverty rather than trapping people into another inadequate social assistance program.”

“To do this, the Canada Disability Benefit must work in tandem with education and employment programs, and provincial and territorial supports,” said Fenton.

As the government begins to transition from the legislative process to the regulatory building process, CNIB is launching a call for interested individuals to join the CNIB Canada Disability Benefit Consultation Panel. Individuals who are interested in joining the CNIB Canada Disability Benefit Consultation Panel can send a letter of intent to advocacy@cnib.ca. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis.

“The development of the regulations for the Canada Disability benefit must be a top priority for the government,” said John M. Rafferty, President and CEO of CNIB. “Through the Canada Disability Benefit Consultation Panel that CNIB will create, we will ensure that the voices of people who are blind, low vision, or Deafblind are being heard as the regulations are built.”

“This real time feedback that we are providing to the government will form a necessary part of the regulatory process and will ensure that those impacted by the Canada Disability Benefit are consulted every step of the way,” said Rafferty.

Today’s royal assent of this historic legislation can have a positive impact on the millions of Canadians with a disability. The Canada Disability Benefit must be built with sight loss community alongside.

Joint Statement from Disability Organizations on Royal Assent of Bill C-22, signed by CNIB:

People with disabilities in Canada one step closer to financial independence  

Today, after tireless advocacy from Canadians living with disabilities Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, received Royal Assent. The Canada Disability Benefit Act creates a new supplemental income for people living with a disability, which seeks to support financial security for a community that is twice as likely to live in poverty.

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, and the thousands of people with disabilities who provided their stories, perspectives, and lived experiences during the legislative process, we acknowledge this milestone that has been accomplished. Today we celebrate, but tomorrow we continue to keep the federal government’s feet to the fire to deliver on the promise of the Canada Disability Benefit Act.

Today’s achievement could not have happened without the leadership and commitment from Canada’s national politicians. Led by the vision championed by the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion, Members of Parliament and Senators unanimously supported and agreed that people with disabilities must be freed from poverty. This is a direct testament to the decades of advocacy, activism, and relentless action from our community and allies. The voices of the disability community made the Canada Disability Benefit Act a reality, and it is these voices that will shape the program to come.

While today’s news is an important step, it does not implement the new Canada Disability Benefit. Cabinet must agree on a date when this legislation “comes into force” and then the regulatory process will begin. It is this process that will determine important elements of the Canada Disability Benefit, such as eligibility, the application process, appeals process, and the amount of the benefit. Importantly, the federal government has committed to co-designing this program with the disability community and has pledged to do so in the legislation.

We know that the expectations of the Canada Disability Benefit Act are high. For far too long, people with disabilities have relied on inadequate social assistance programs that trap them into poverty – these programs provide the bare minimum to survive and penalize those who are married or looking for employment. Support for people with disabilities is not universal across jurisdictions, placing individuals at significant disadvantage. People with disabilities need the Canada Disability Benefit up and running, now.

Today’s passage of Bill C-22 is historic. Let us celebrate this milestone with focus to a future where people with disabilities are lifted from poverty. Such a dream is within our reach.

  • Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work
  • CNIB
  • Deafblind Community Services
  • Disability Without Poverty
  • Eviance
  • Inclusion Canada
  • L’Arche Canada
  • March of Dimes Canada
  • National Mental Health Inclusion Network 
  • Rick Hansen Foundation
  • Spinal Cord Injury Canada
  • Vison Loss Rehabilitation Canada
  • Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility


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