Bill C-22 is proposed federal legislation that seeks to provide an additional safety net to disabled Canadians by establishing the Canada Disability Benefit. The bill aims to reduce poverty and provide financial security to people with disabilities, which should be applauded as legislation that will improve the lives of many Canadians dealing with disabilities.
While the legislation is to be commended, Steven Muller, our VP of Litigation noticed that one section of Bill C-22 could be improved, if it was made clear that the Canada Disability Benefit is intended to provide additional assistance to those people already receiving other benefits, such as Disability Benefits from a private insurance company.
That doesn’t appear to be what is intended by Bill C-22 and efforts are being made to try to make sure that this never happens when this new benefit starts being available to Canadians.
The proposal that Steven Muller has put forward, and which has been endorsed by numerous groups, is that the benefits available under Bill C-22 should be in addition to any insurance benefits given to those with disabilities.
Bill C-22 received unanimous, all party support and has been passed by the House of Commons. It is now at consideration in committee before the Senate. Many disability advocacy groups across Canada have submitted proposals of their own arguing changes to the bill. Steven Muller will be presenting his submission to the Senate committee on the afternoon of April 26th, 2023.
Hopefully, these efforts before the Senate committee will result in improvements and enhancements to Bill C-22, not the least of which would be amending the language of section 9 to prevent any unwanted or unintended offsets or reductions from other benefits available to the disabled.
UPDATE: May 23, 2023
The Senate in 3rd reading passed Bill C-22 with Amendments.
One of the important amendments passed is to provide protection in the legislation so that insurance companies cannot claw back the new disability benefit. The Senate vote both in Committee and in 3rd reading was a strong endorsement that Bill C-22 without amendment would create a huge financial windfall for insurance companies and other providers of disability benefits. To reject the amendment, and consciously provide this subsidy to insurance companies, would create an intended consequence. There should never be an intended consequence by the Senate nor the House of leaving impoverished disabled recipients out of a Federal "big tent" social program.
The amendments passed by the Senate for Bill C-22 ensure that monies go to the impoverished disabled recipients and not insurance companies or other providers of disability benefits. Poverty costs $33 billion just in Ontario alone. Disability poverty is a community tragedy and a Canadian tragedy. All political parties must now come together to pass Bill C-22 with the Senate Amendments without delay!
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