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Tri-Cities MP's disability benefit bill receives unanimous second reading vote

Bonita Zarrillo says she's inspired by the "strength and determination" of advocacy groups as Bill C-22 takes a significant step forward.
Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo (2nd right) attended a rally in Ottawa on Oct. 19, 2022, hosted by advocates after Bill C-22 to reintroduce the Canada Disability Benefit Act unanimously passed second reading in the House of Commons.


Bonita Zarrillo was very happy to see the entire House of Commons unanimously vote 'yes' on Tuesday (Oct. 18) to pass the second reading of a bill to re-introduce the Canada Disability Benefit Act.

As the motion continues to move forward, the Port Moody-Coquitlam MP said she's also inspired by the continued "strength and determination" of advocates willing to work for disabled residents.

"We are another step closer to getting people with disabilities the benefits they have waited seven years for," she said in a social media post following the vote.

"I raise my hands to all the advocacy groups and individuals that have worked to get to this point."

Bill C-22 is now set to go to the standing committee on human resources, skills, social development and the status of persons with disabilities.

Zarrillo is the only member representing the NDP as she's the federal party's critic for disability inclusion.

The bill passed the first reading on June 2 — one month after Zarrillo kickstarted the campaign to re-table the benefit and put possible legislation into motion.

It passed unanimously and the first draft of the plan was read in Ottawa by Canada's minister for disability inclusion and fellow B.C. MP Carla Qualtrough (Delta).

There are still several stages the benefit must pass before becoming a reality, but Zarrillo believes that without it disabled Canadians will continue to fall further behind amid the cost of food reaching "a 41-year high."

"People living with a disability have been feeling the financial strain as the price of food soars and the cost of renting or buying a home is unaffordable in many Canadian cities," she said.

"The government’s delay has hurt people living with a disability who were often struggling to make ends meet before interest rates and inflation made things even more challenging."

The Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC), as of 2017, said one in five people 15 years and older have identified as a resident living with some form of disability.

In the federal government's 2021 budget, a three-year, $11.9-million investment was unveiled to bring about consultations on how to improve the eligibility process for existing programs and benefits.

According to the platform, Canadians with a disability on low incomes aged 18 to 64 would receive a "direct monthly payment" when the benefit is implemented.

There's no exact financial figure, as of this publication, a person with disabilities can qualify for as the benefit act is non-binding.

"Living with a disability in Canada should never mean that you live in poverty," added Zarrillo.

"I will continue to fight to ensure people living with a disability in Canada have access to the benefits and financial supports they need to live with autonomy and dignity."

Zarrillo also attended at a rally on parliament hill Wednesday (Oct. 19) hosted by community members that are calling for the Canada Disability Benefit be legislated by 2023.