Proposed federal legislation will increase eligibility for people with disabilities affected by COVID-19

On Friday the Federal Government announced that they will propose legislation that would make benefits available to more people with disabilities in Canada and expand a one-time payment that they announced last month.

The announcement was part of a series of measures along with the one-time, tax-free, non-refundable payment of $600 to assist with additional expenses incurred during the pandemic. The announcement was made by Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.

“We recognize that Canadians with disabilities are disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. This includes the increased cost of food, transportation, medication, personal protective equipment, personal support workers, and other disability supports. We have worked closely with the disability community during this time of crisis, including our COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group.We will continue to work hard to increase accessibility and remove barriers, and remain committed to a pandemic response and recovery that is disability inclusive,” Qualtrough said.

The proposal will expand the one-time payment to include approximately 1.7 million Canadians with disabilities, who are recipients of any of the following programs or benefits: a Disability Tax Credit certificate provided by the Canada Revenue Agency, Canada Pension Plan disability benefit or Quebec Pension Plan disability benefit and Disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.

The Government has shared draft legislative proposals that would facilitate these payments. If enacted, eligible Canadians would receive the payment automatically.
Additionally residents with disabilities who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit but have not yet applied would have a 60-day window of opportunity to do so after Royal Assent of the bill.
Seniors who are eligible for the one-time payment to persons with disabilities would receive a total of $600 in special payments.

The one-time payment to persons with disabilities would also be adjusted to provide a top-up for eligible seniors, including: $300 for Canadians who are eligible for the Old Age Security pension and who received the one-time seniors payment of $300; or $100 for Canadians who are eligible for the Old Age Security pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement or Allowances and who received the one-time senior’s payment of $500.

According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, 22 percent of Canadians 15 years of age and over identify as having a disability. That rate goes up with age with 37.8 percent of Canadians over 65 and 47.4 percent over 75.

Among working-age Canadians with disabilities, more than 1.5 million, or 41 percent, are unemployed or out of the labour market entirely among those with severe disabilities this rate increases to over 60 percent.