On Thursday May 18, 2023, the Senate passed Bill C-22 with the amendments adopted by the SOCI Committee.
This is welcome news! The amendments that were added to the Bill will make it so that:
- Insurance companies can’t claw back the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB) from anyone who receives long-term disability benefits under an insurance policy or employee plan
- The right of appeal is enshrined in the Bill, guaranteeing that those who are denied the CDB can appeal the decision, likely at a tribunal rather than through the court system
- As the process of designing a CDB continues, when deciding the benefit rate the House of Commons must take into account not only the poverty line but also the additional costs of living with a disability, barriers to earning an income, intersectionality, and Canada’s international human rights obligations
- The Bill has clear, required timelines for its rollout. Specifically, once the Bill receives royal assent (i.e. becomes law), it will automatically come into force one year later, with the Federal Cabinet being able to bring the Bill into force earlier than one year if the Bill is ready. There is also now a one-year time limit to get the regulations that govern the CDB in order. The regulations will include important details on how the Bill should be carried out and how the CDB will be administered (for example, the regulations will outline eligibility requirements, the application process, appeal process, the amount of the benefit, and much more.)
The preamble to the Bill was also modified to include the following language:
“Whereas persons with disabilities may face additional barriers because of their gender, racialized or Indigenous status or other intersecting statuses;”.
To read the full list of the Senate’s amendments to the Bill, click here.
What happens next?
Bill C-22 now goes back to the House of Commons for final consideration. In the House of Commons, Members of Parliament (MPs) will look at the amendments added by the Senate, and decide how to proceed. They can choose to reject the Senate’s amendments and delay passage by sending the Bill back to the Senate, or they could vote to pass the Bill with the Senate’s amendments.
We want them to pass the Bill with the Senate’s amendments as soon as possible! The sooner they pass the Bill, the sooner they can move on to the process of developing all of the important details about the CDB, including the application and appeal processes.
People with Disabilities NEED income support now. When will the CDB be available?
There is no solid answer to this question but we are hopeful that all of the legislative and technical next steps will move quickly. If the House of Commons passes Bill C-22 with the Senate’s amendments in the next few weeks and the Bill receives royal assent, the legislation binds the Government of Canada to develop the details around administering the CDB up to one year from that date. Creating a new federal income benefit takes time though, so even if things move quickly and in a good direction, it could be another one to two years before the Benefit is available.
Some advocacy groups and people with disabilities have urged the federal government to provide a Disability Emergency Relief Benefit (DERB) while the CDB is being developed to provide more immediate support for people with disabilities who live in poverty.
What we can do right now:
- Ensure MPs pass Bill C-22 with amendments as soon as possible. If you are part of an organization, sign on to AODA Alliance’s open letter here.
- Ensure that there is money added to next year’s federal budget so that once the details about the CDB are established, there is NO delay in getting that money out to people with disabilities. You can send a digital postcard to your MP through Disability Without Poverty’s #BudgetTheBenefit campaign here.