Equality and Justice
For People With Disabilities

The Canadian government introduces Bill C-35 (Canada Disability Benefit Act) with the purpose of reducing poverty and supporting the financial security of working-age persons with disabilities.


Published on July 22, 2021

The Canadian government introduces Bill C-35 (Canada Disability Benefit Act) with the purpose of reducing poverty and supporting the financial security of working-age persons with disabilities


Sinini Sibanda, JD Graduate, University of Leicester, July 2021


Canadians living with disabilities face challenges relating to the workplace, aids, and other supports they need daily. The Covid-19 pandemic has since exacerbated these challenges. Particularly, barriers to employment such as loss of income and other benefits, have increased for working-age persons living with disabilities. As a result, “Canadians with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty than those without disabilities” (Quebec: Employment and Social Canada, 2021). 


Acknowledging the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, the Canadian government announced in the 2020 Speech from the Throne that it will develop the first-ever Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) which includes:


- a new Canada Disability Benefit; 
- a robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities; and
- a better process to determine eligibility for federal disability programs and benefits. 

The foundation of the DIAP is the Canada Disability Benefit which has resulted in the introduction of Bill C-35 (Canada Disability Benefit Act), heard for the first time on June 22, 2021, in the Canadian House of Commons. The purpose of the legislation is to “reduce poverty and to support the financial security of working age persons with disabilities'' (Bill C-35, Second Session, 43rd Parl, 2021). Bill C-35 will supplement, not replace, existing federal and provincial-territorial supports. The Act also makes a consequential amendment to the Income Tax Act (Bill C-35, Second Session, 43rd Parl, 2021)


What is important to note about this legislation is that the disability community will be consulted in designing support measures for persons with a disability to ensure that their voices are heard. Additionally, the legislation states that the provinces and territories will play an important role developing income supports and other support services for persons with disabilities (Bill C-35, Second Session, 43rd Parl, 2021). Ideally, if Bill C-35 passes, people living with disabilities will enjoy increased financial security, social, and economic benefits. 


It is also important to note that there are issues associated with Bill C-35. For example, the legislation does not clearly state exactly who is eligible to receive the Canada Disability Benefit. The legislation indicates that “a person is eligible for the Canada disability benefit if they meet the eligibility criteria set out in the regulations'' (Bill C-35, Second Session, 43rd Parl, 2021). However, the criteria set out in the regulations does not detail who will be eligible, the payments to be received by the applicant, and whether receiving that payment will affect other disability benefits received by the applicant. These issues might be addressed in the Second Reading of Bill C-35. What is clear so far is that the legislation authorizes the Governor in Council to implement most of the benefit’s design elements through regulations. 


To stay updated about Bill C-35 (Canada Disability Benefit Act), visit the Government of Canada and Parliament of Canada websites. For more information about the Canada Disability Benefit Act, see: 


Employment and Social Development Canada 


Description: Government of Canada introduces legislation to create the new Canada Disability Benefit. 


Parliament of Canada, House of Commons 


Description: Bill C-35 (First Reading, June 22, 2021) 


NDP


Description: NDP statement on new Canadian Disability Benefit 


Barrier Free Canada


Description: Government of Canada Introduces Legislation to Create the New Canada Disability Benefit. 


March of Dimes


Description: Statement on the Introduction of Bill C-35, The Canada Disability Benefit Act. 


Works Cited/Sources: 


Bill C-35, Canada, Parliament, An Act to reduce poverty and to support the financial security of persons with disabilities by establishing the Canada disability benefit and making a consequential amendment to the Income Tax Act, Second Session, 43rd Parl, 2021. https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-2/bill/C-35/first-reading (Accessed on July 13, 2021)


Employment and Social Development Canada. “Government of Canada introduces legislation to create the new Canada Disability Benefit” (Quebec: Employment and Social Development Canada, 2021).  https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2021/06/000754---tabling-of-cdb-legislation.html. (Accessed on July 13, 2021).