Bill C-35 Leaves Disability Community Without Critical Information

July 6, 2021 | For Immediate Release

Since 2014, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) has been calling for a disability income program modeled after the Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) programs for seniors; thus, CCD was enthusiastic when last year’s Throne Speech committed to the creation of a Canada Disability Benefit modelled after OAS and GIS.  The most recent federal budget committed $11.9 million over three years to consult Canadians about the Benefit. On June 22, 2021, Bill C-35, an Act to reduce poverty and to support the financial security of persons with disabilities by establishing the Canada disability benefit, had first reading in the House of Commons. Unfortunately, Bill C-35 leaves many key matters of fundamental importance to be spelled out in the Act’s regulations, for example: eligibility criteria, the amount of a benefit, payment periods, applications for a benefit, reviews or reconsiderations of decisions and appeals. “With Bill C-35, it’s like we’ve been shown the building permit, but haven’t been given access to the blueprints; we know something will be built but we have no idea what the structure will be like,” states Roxana Jahani Aval, CCD Chairperson. “It is worrisome not to have information concerning who will be eligible for this program, how much they will receive and how the program will interact with other benefits and services.”

“The disability community’s experience with the restrictive eligibility criteria for the federal Disability Tax Credit, which prevent a wide range of people with disabilities from accessing the benefit, has demonstrated clearly why we need to be involved in the design of the program,” states Heather Walkus, First Vice Chair.  “We are pleased that the Bill C-35’s preamble signals people with disabilities will be included in the design of the Benefit.”
CCD was particularly pleased with the preamble’s framing of poverty reduction as a step toward progressive realization of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). “As Canada moves forward with the Canada Disability Benefit, we will be using the CRPD as our benchmark for measuring progress,” states Heather Walkus, CCD First Vice Chair. “We see the preamble’s acknowledgement of the principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us”, as an invitation from the Federal Government to the disability community to co-create the Canada Disability Benefit.”

Canadians are supportive of the Canada Disability Benefit. A recent Angus Reid poll reported that,

• 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.
“We are hopeful that with the support of Canadians squarely behind the Benefit, the Federal Government will be motivated to fast track the development of a benefits program that will truly end poverty for people with disabilities in a timely manner,” states Roxana Jahani Aval, CCD Chairperson.”  “CCD will be working to ensure that the Federal Government fulfills the commitments made in the Bill’s preamble,” states Heather Walkus, First Vice Chair.


For More Information Contact:

Jewelles Smith, Communications and Government Relations Coordinator,

Heather Walkus, First Vice Chair,

About CCD

CCD is a national human rights organization of people with disabilities working for an inclusive and accessible Canada.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is a social justice organization of people with all disabilities that champions the voices of people with disabilities, advocating an inclusive and accessible Canada, where people with disabilities have full realization of their human rights, as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) unites advocacy organizations of people with disabilities to defend and extend human rights for persons with disabilities through public education, advocacy, intervention in litigation, research, consultation and partnerships.  CCD amplifies the expertise of our partners by acting as a convening body and consensus builder.