The Canada Disability Benefit – People Living with Disabilities Can’t Afford to Wait!

To celebrate National AccessAbility Week (May 28th – June 2nd), Gordon Neighbourhood House is partnering with Disability Without Poverty to raise awareness about the growing levels of poverty experienced by West End neighbours living with disabilities, call for urgent action to make the Canada Disability Benefit a reality, and tell the federal government that people living with disabilities can’t afford to wait any longer!

What is the Canada Disability Benefit, and why is it important?

You might have heard a little bit about the Canada Disability Benefit, but what is it really? First, let’s start with some background information:

  • 6.2 million Canadians live with a disability
  • 1 in 3 Canadians living below the poverty line have a disability
  • People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty than people who do not
  • Half of Canadians who experience food insecurity live with a disability

To combat the impact that food insecurity and poverty have on people living with disabilities, the federal government proposed Bill C-22, also known as the Canada Disability Benefit, which would provide a guaranteed monthly income support for people with disabilities aged 18 to 64. 

The model created for the Canada Disability Benefit was based on another income supplement created for seniors, called the Guaranteed Income Supplement. This means that the Canada Disability Benefit will be provided in addition to other existing benefits that people with disabilities might already receive, including CPP – Disability, Veterans’ Disability Benefits, Worker’s Compensation, EI-Sickness, private insurance, and provincial and territorial disability income programs. 

The federal government began discussions around the Canada Disability Benefit more than three years ago. As the bill keeps getting delayed, people living with disabilities are suffering.

With inflation and cost of living on the rise, people living with disabilities are the first to feel the impacts. Right now, in Canada, 761,000 people with disabilities aged 16 and older are living in poverty, often having to make impossible choices between eating, accessing life-saving medication, and having a roof over their heads. In addition to living in poverty, 1 in 6 people living with disabilities have unmet healthcare needs, a rate three times higher than the national average.

People with disabilities cannot afford to wait longer, and action needs to be taken now. Even after the bill passes, the federal government still has to decide on the regulations around the Benefit, which is why getting Bill C-22 passed now is so important.

How is the Canada Disability Benefit progressing?

Even though initial discussions about Bill C-22 began three years ago, the federal government is still in the process of debating whether the Benefit is the best course of action. Once this debating period has concluded, the federal government can pass the legislation through as federal law. 

A lot of bills never become law because of long wait times and a lack of support that the bill may receive. Luckily, 89% of Canadians have voted in favour of Bill C-22, but that doesn’t mean the work is over. Despite the overwhelming support from Canadian citizens and from many members of parliament and senators, delays have held back Bill C-22 from passing for almost a year. While it is crucial that the bill will result in a tangible benefit for people living with disabilities, the risk of delaying the bill even further is too high. This risk is magnified considering that the Senate is still voting to add changes to the wording of the bill, which will lead to further denying people living with disabilities access to basic necessities.

Who is supporting the Canada Disability Benefit?

The grassroots movement, Disability Without Poverty, is hosting a national campaign in partnership with people with disabilities, economists, design experts, Community Food Centres Canada, Neighbourhood Houses, and local MPs to rally the federal government and get Bill C-22 passed into law. We are all fighting hard to make sure the Canada Disability Benefit is funded and implemented in 2023, and ensure it is able to lift people with disabilities out of poverty, cover the additional costs of living with a disability, and include people with disabilities in the design and implementation of the Benefit in their province or territory. A primary goal of the campaign is to send 40,000 postcards to our Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, to make it loud and clear that people living with disabilities can’t afford to wait any longer.

Disability Without Poverty has created some guiding ideas on how the Canada Disability Benefit could be successful. Their vision for the Benefit is that everyone with disabilities will have access to this Benefit in addition to the other benefits they receive, which have long been criticized for falling significantly below the cost of living and resulting in legislated poverty. Disability Without Poverty’s end goal is to create a Benefit in partnership with people with disabilities that is based on equity and autonomy. If you’re interested in learning more about their vision, check out their website:

How can I get involved?

During National AccessAbility Week, from May 28th to June 2nd, Gordon Neighbourhood House will be collecting 1,000 signatures and comments to present to our Member of Parliament, Hedy Fry, and Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, calling on the federal government to #BudgetTheBenefit in 2023. We encourage everyone to stop by Gordon House (1019 Broughton Street) to show your support and make your voice heard!

You are also invited to join us on May 30th from 6:30-8:00 pm at Gordon House to learn more about the Canada Disability Benefit and brainstorm ideas and suggestions to take to our elected representatives and hold them accountable to promises made.

We will also be out and about in the West End, hosting community gathering spaces to promote the Benefit and collect your comments and signatures. Come find us on May 30th at the West End Community Centre and May 31st at Jim Deva Plaza from 3:00-5:00 pm!

Disability Without Poverty is also hosting an event at Jagmeet Singh’s office (4940 Kingsway, Burnaby BC) on June 2nd to remind him to make the bill a priority. We would love to see you there!

If you’re not able to come by in person, we would love to hear your thoughts on the Benefit and include your comments in the campaign. You can reach us by calling 604-683-2554 or emailing

Let’s send a clear message to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland: no more delays — pass Bill C-22 and fund the Canada Disability Benefit this year. We would love for you to get involved!

Credit to Disability Without Poverty for the information discussed in this blog post, for partnering with experts and Community Food Centres Canada to give us as much accurate information as possible, and for organizing the disability justice movement in support of the Canada Disability Benefit.

Disability Without Poverty is a grassroots movement led by people with disabilities focused on getting the federal government to fast-track the Canada Disability Benefit. 

Community Food Centres Canada is a partner and supporter of the Disability Without Poverty movement. At the heart of CFCC’s work is the belief that food is a basic right. We bring people together around good food to help communities thrive. With nearly 400 partners across the country, we build inclusive, culturally responsive Community Food Centres, share knowledge, create health-focused programs, and advocate for equitable policy change.

Gordon Neighbourhood House is a partner and supporter of the Disability Without Poverty movement. Gordon Neighbourhood House’s work strives to ensure that the West End is a vibrant and active community, where everyone is empowered to play an active role in a civil society. Since 1942 we have been working closely with local community organizations to create dozens of programs, and initiatives that respond to the needs of our neighbourhood. We thrive on building connections and opportunities for growth in the West End community – for today and tomorrow.