On June 22, 2023, Bill C-22 received Royal Assent and became law. We now have a Canada Disability Benefit Act. This is great news, but the important work of figuring out the details of the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB) is still ongoing.
When we posted our last update in October 2023, we were at the beginning of part one of the government’s two part process to develop the detailed rules on how the law should be carried out (also known as “regulations”.)
Where are we at in the process now?
Throughout November and December 2023, the government staff who are working on putting together the regulations encouraged members of the public to provide thoughts on several important considerations. They opened and shared a survey that had many components, and asked for input on aspects such as – What should the application process look like? Who should be able to access the benefit? How should disputes about accessing the benefit be approached? And many other potential rules and components for the CDB. They encouraged members of the public to fill out the survey, send in an email with commentary, or call in or submit video responses. That engagement process ended on January 4, 2024, though there will be another opportunity to comment after the draft regulations are published – sometime between now and June.
The government staff working on the regulations also held several invite-only technical roundtables. They invited subject-matter experts and those with lived experience to attend and share detailed input on the same types of questions they asked the public. ISAC was invited to and attended three of the technical roundtables, on the topics of application processes, appeal processes, and consent and capacity. Several other national and provincial disability justice advocates and allies attended the roundtables as well. In addition to sharing our thoughts at the roundtables, we put together a summary document of our recommendations and the rationale behind them. You can read our CDB Technical Roundtable Recommendations here.
I missed the opportunity to share my thoughts on how the CDB should be designed. Is it too late? What can I do?
There will be another opportunity for input after the draft regulations are published. We’re not sure when this will happen, but likely sometime between now and June. We will update our website and our social media with this information as it becomes available. Once the government has received community input, they will use these insights to produce a finalized set of regulations for the CDB.
While we all wait to see what the draft regulations will include, you can get active and contact your MP and the Ministers responsible for making sure the Benefit is fully funded. There are a few campaigns running which encourage federal decision-makers to make sure there is enough money in the upcoming federal budget to fund the CDB properly, including Disability Without Poverty’s #BudgetTheBenefit campaign and the Daily Bread Food Bank’s Fund the Benefit campaign. If you want to email or call your MP directly, you can find their information by typing in your postal code here (link opens to the Parliament of Canada’s official government website.)
You can also share your thoughts through the federal government’s budget process, which is currently ongoing and accepting submissions until February 9, 2024. You can fill out the government’s survey or submit a formal submission at this link.
People with Disabilities NEED income support now. When will the Canada Disability Benefit be available?
There is still no concrete date for when the CDB will be paid to those who qualify. The only current concrete date is that the CDB must come into force no later than June 22, 2024. The regulations will inform whether the CDB will be paid out right at the coming into force date or at some later date.
We will keep pushing to ensure that the CDB is delivered as soon as possible, while at the same time including all of the important elements we have advocated for, including a simple, no-barrier, straightforward application process and an accessible appeals process, among other things.
In the meantime, if you think you qualify for existing disability benefits, or you want to know more about what benefits are available, check out the Income Assistance section on the Steps to Justice website or contact your local community legal clinic.