Keep it classy, Canada.

It’s no secret that Ontario hates the disabled. Most provinces do, but I’ve had particular opinions about how Ontario’s brand of hatred looks. So it surprises me not at all to learn that Canada equally as a whole hates the disabled, and would prefer to see us poor than successful. At least, I hope that’s all it is and not that our government has chosen to completely flake out on learning what people with disabilities actually need to survive.

The War Amps has followed the course of the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB), participated in consultations, and awaited details with hope that this program’s purpose of reducing poverty and supporting the financial security of working-age people with disabilities would be fulfilled.

So, it came as a shock when federal Budget 2024 set the maximum amount of financial assistance at $2,400 per year. For people with disabilities who can’t work and face serious poverty, a contribution of $200 monthly is nothing short of appallingly inadequate.

Across the country, disability support programs are painfully insufficient. The disability program in Nova Scotia provides up to $950 monthly; in Saskatchewan, up to $1,129 monthly; in British Columbia, up to $1,535 monthly. As a “top up,” the CDB has the potential to bridge the gap of poverty for the most severely disabled population, but it will take much more than $2,400 to do it.

To lift Canadians with disabilities out of poverty, the CDB would have to provide at least $14,356 annually, according to the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer — almost six times the committed amount.

Furthermore, the budget for the CDB is set to support 600,000 Canadians. However, Canada is estimated to have more than 1.6 million Canadians with disabilities living below the poverty line. If more than 600,000 people qualify for the CDB, will they receive even less than $200 monthly?

On top of this, the CDB fails to factor in the high costs of disability, including the costs of assistive devices such as artificial limbs for amputees. Canadians would be shocked to learn that if you lose a limb, current provincial and territorial funding does not adequately cover the cost of the artificial limbs needed for everyday activities.

You don’t say. So Canada’s government, bringer of such wonderfully enlightened policies as the downloading of social services costs to the privinces in the 90’s, has wofully underfunded a benefit that is intended to correct for the malfunctioning/nonfunctional systems created by said provinces? Colour me shocked and surprised. Or, you know, don’t.

This was supposed to be the system that fixed ODSP and other benefit programs. How’d we do with that? And this, right here, is why Ontario can continue to do what it does best–because they know, and this provides them with all the proof they need, that the disabled in this province aren’t going to get help from elsewhere unless that elsewhere is a rich uncle.

Thanks, Canada. Stay classy, if you can.

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