Overview of Federal Disability Supports

Canadians with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty than those without disabilities, a situation that has been made even worse by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is due in part to barriers that people with disabilities face to entering the workforce and the many medical and non-medical expenses they incur because of their disability.

Canadians living with a disability can access a variety of different benefits through the federal government depending on their stage of life. These include:

  • Those over 65 can access a monthly disability benefit through the Canada Pension Plan.
  • The former Conservative government introduced the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), which helps Canadians with disabilities and their families save for the future. The government provides matching grants to contributions of up to $3,500 per year through the Canada Disability Savings Grant.
  • The child disability benefit (CDB) is a tax-free monthly payment made to families who care for a child under age 18 with a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions.
  • The disability tax credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities, or their supporting persons, reducing the amount of income tax they may have to pay.
  • If a Canadian is eligible for the DTC, they may also receive a disability supplement through the Canada Workers Benefit.

On the last day of the parliamentary session this summer, the Liberal government announced new legislation to create a framework to begin consultations with Canadians on a new Canada Disability Benefit. While the Liberal’s waited until the last day possible to begin the work of improving the lives of Canadians with disabilities, Canada’s Conservatives have a clear and ambitious plan to support the disability community. 

Doubling Disability Support in the Canada Workers Benefit

One in five Canadians lives with a disability. They need support – to live full lives and participate fully in society, including in the workforce. However, a disproportionate number of disabled Canadians are working part-time or for low wages.

Canada’s Conservatives will double the Disability Supplement in the Canada Workers Benefit from $713 to $1,500, providing a major boost to lower-income disabled Canadians on top of our increase in the Canada Workers Benefit. The most help will go to families where one member has a disability. This extra support will help them achieve the security and financial independence they deserve.

Examples

Sarah is a disabled Canadian earning $14,000 per year at a retail store. She will receive $2,800 of the basic Canada Workers Benefit per year, up from $1,441 under the previous program. She will also receive a $1,500 disability supplement instead of $713. In total, she will receive $4,300 under the Conservative plan, more than double what she received under the previous program. 

David and Sue have a family income of $23,000 and David has a disability. They will receive $5,000 of the basic Canada Workers Benefit, well above the $1,900 they received under the previous program. On top of that, the family will receive the $1,500 disability supplement. That’s a boost of $6,500 for this family. 

Trish and Mike have a family income of $35,000 and Trish has a disability. They receive $3,700 of the basic Canada Workers Benefit, far more than the $458 they received under the previous program. On top of that, the family will receive the $1,500 disability supplement. That’s a boost of $5,200 for this family. 

Making Work Pay

Canada’s Conservatives will ensure that going to work never costs a disabled person money – as is too often the case today. The complex web of programs in place today means that someone can lose more than a dollar – in benefit cuts and higher taxes – for every dollar they earn by working. This means that for many disabled Canadians, the harder they work, the poorer they become.

This is simply wrong.

Canada’s Recovery Plan will overhaul the complex array of disability supports and benefits to ensure that working always leaves someone further ahead. A Conservative government will work with the provinces to ensure that federal programs are designed to work with provincial programs to achieve this result. This will augment the effect of our increase to the Canada Workers Benefit, which will help make work pay for disabled Canadians by boosting the benefits of work.

Boosting the Enabling Accessibility Fund

Canada’s Recovery Plan will provide an additional $80 million per year through the Enabling Accessibility Fund to provide:

  • Additional incentives for small business and community projects to improve accessibility.
  • Grants and support for all types of accessibility equipment that disabled Canadians need to work.
  • Enhancements to existing programs that will get more disabled Canadians into the workforce.

Making it Easier to Qualify for Disability Supports

To give more Canadians with disabilities access to financial support, Canada’s Conservatives will reduce the number of hours required to qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) and the Registered Disability Savings Plan from 14 to 10 hours per week.

In 2017, Justin Trudeau took away the support that thousands of Canadians relied on when he changed how Canadians qualify for the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan. To some, this credit was worth thousands of dollars. Conservatives joined diabetes advocates to successfully fight back against this tax grab.

These changes will save a disabled person made eligible for the tax credit or their family an average of $2,100 per year.

Making it easier to qualify for the tax credit will also make it easier to qualify for the RDSP, which provides up to $3,500 per year in matching grants for Canadians with disabilities.