Skip to content

Column: Disabled Canadians still waiting for support — one year later

The federal government has let more than one million people down, Port Moody—Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo claims.
In June 2023, Ottawa passed the Canada Disability Benefit Act to help more than one million Canadians get out of poverty.

One year ago today, Canadians celebrated the passing of the new Canada Disability Benefit Act. Finally, it seemed, the Liberal government would act to lift over one million people with disabilities out of poverty through a new federal benefit.

But, with the introduction of the Liberals’ spring budget, which they claimed would champion fairness for all, it was clear they’d let people with disabilities down. The Canada Disability Benefit, at only $200 a month, is a long way off from lifting people with disabilities out of poverty.

I shared in the disappointment and anger of the disability advocates who trusted this government to do the right thing and live up to their commitment to an adequate income for persons with disabilities.

That did not happen with this new benefit. At a time when the costs of food and housing are skyrocketing, the Liberals have chosen to hand out billions of dollars to corporations and rich CEOs rather than make sure persons with disabilities aren’t living in poverty and can afford the essentials they need.

The Liberals have also chosen to wait an additional year before any Canadian receives a new disability payment. From now until June 2025, the fundamental human rights and dignity of persons with disabilities continue to be ignored. This is not acceptable.

And where is Pierre Poilievre and the Conservatives in all this? Ignoring the disability community altogether, just like they did for years when they were in government.

Canadians with disabilities deserve better.

That is why the NDP has been fighting to speed up the delivery of the Canada Disability Benefit and do the work to ensure this new benefit delivers an adequate income for all.

That goal can be realized if the Liberal government stops delaying and finally lives up to its promise of nothing about us without us. The future of the Canada Disability Benefit is still open to changes. The amount and the eligibility can still be improved. The Liberals just need to have the will to do it.

People living with disabilities don’t need another framework or to lay the groundwork for change; they need action. There can be no more delays, leaving some of the most vulnerable Canadians behind.

With action, Canada can be an international leader on “fairness for all” through living up to our national and international commitments to end poverty.

There is still time for the Liberals to fix their mistakes, increase the Canada Disability to an adequate income, and get it out quickly to those living in poverty.

Bonita Zarrillo is the MP for Port Moody—Coquitlam and the federal NDP's critic for disability and Inclusion.