For the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Council for Canadians with Disabilities sent their Christmas wish list to the Federal Government, as well as a letter to each Member of Parliament. The press release is below.
To read the letter to the Members of Parliament, click here
International Day of Persons with Disabilities—We're Sending Our
Christmas Wish List to Federal Government
December 2, 2010
Charlottetown—The Council of Canadians with Disabilities, a national human rights organization, praised the United Nations for establishing December 3rd as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, because CCD saw it as one vehicle for bringing attention to the many issues persons with disabilities face and which demand attention. "Due to the UN's efforts, today many people are more aware of the challenges faced by persons with disabilities and this is important because we know that even in a rich country like Canada, people with disabilities are hurting as a result of disability poverty," stated Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson. In 2006, the incidence of low income for working-age families was 17.2% but in families where the bread winner had a disability the rate was 32.8%.
Due to barriers in the labor market, many Canadians with disabilities rely on social assistance. "In 2008, for a single person with a disability, social assistance income ranged from $8,496 a year in New Brunswick to $13,337 in Alberta. In addition to typical daily living expenses, people with disabilities also incur extra expenses related to their disabilities. Thus many Canadians with disabilities living on social assistance struggle to survive day to day," states Marie White, Chairperson of CCD's Social Policy Committee. "More and more people with disabilities are forced to rely on food banks and other forms of charity," states Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson.
Many a newly disabled Canadian has been shocked to learn that the average Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit is only $810.70 a month and that is only if you meet stringent eligibility requirements.
For this year's observance of December 3rd, CCD is drawing attention to the disproportionate level of poverty experienced by Canadians with disabilities in comparison to their nondisabled counterparts. Many Canadians assume that people with disabilities are well provided for by disability pensions. Few, unless they have a family member with a disability, understand that disability and poverty are largely synonymous—disability can lead to poverty and poverty can result in disability.
"While, things are bleak for people with disabilities living in poverty, the situation is not hopeless. People with disabilities have developed a package of solutions – a National Action Plan - for addressing disability poverty and shared them with Canada's elected officials," stated Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator. The disability community's reforms were picked up by the House of Commons Committee that published the Federal Poverty Reduction Plan report. It called for a refundable Disability Tax Credit that would put more money into the pockets of Canadians with disabilities facing the severest level of poverty, more funding to get disabled Canadians back to work and the use of infrastructure funding to promote accessible transportation.
"On this December 3rd, we encourage all Canadians, with and without disabilities, to get behind the recommendations in the Federal Poverty Reduction Plan report," stated Marie White. "What I want for Christmas this year is a Federal Government commitment to a refundable DTC in the next Budget."
For More Information Contact:
Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator - (204) 981-6179 or (204) 947-0303
Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson - (902) 569-2817
Marie White, Chairperson, CCD Social Policy Committee - (709)739-8233
Letter to all Members of Parliament
3 December 2010
Member of Parliament
House of Commons
Today is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. CCD encourages you to observe this day by considering disability poverty and committing to work with the disability community to improve the lives of Canadians with disabilities. People without disabilities are surprised to learn that disability and poverty are nearly synonymous, with disability leading to poverty and poverty contributing to disability.
- For working-age people with disabilities, the poverty rate is 14.4 percent. The overall poverty rate for Canadian adults is 10.5 percent.
- Disability poverty is more severe for women with disabilities. Among people with disabilities living in poverty, 59% are women compared with 55.4% of people without disabilities living in poverty.
- Poverty is affected by living arrangements. For people who live alone, 31 percent with disabilities live in poverty compared with 21.3 percent of Canadians without disabilities.
- Poverty rates are considerably higher for persons with disabilities up to age 65, retirement age, then drop to the same levels as for retirement-age persons without disabilities.
Isolation is what poverty means qualitatively for children and adults with disabilities: not playing on sports teams; living in unsafe, substandard housing which may not have needed accessibility features; poor nutrition and dependence on food banks.
When surveyed about disability issues, Canadians invariably report being supportive of measures to help people with disabilities. Canadians want their taxes to have a positive affect. The disability recommendations made by the HUMA Committee in their Federal Poverty Reduction Plan" report would improve the lives of Canadians with disabilities by reducing disability poverty by removing barriers in income assistance, training, and employment. Many of its recommendations are drawn from the disability community's National Action Plan to build a more inclusive and accessible Canada.
We encourage all Members of Parliament to support the HUMA Committee's recommendations. Recognizing they cannot be all implemented immediately, a refundable disability tax credit would be an excellent first step for the Government to take. Including a refundable DTC in the upcoming Federal Budget would be an excellent down payment on income security for people with disabilities facing the severest poverty.