Federal, provincial and territorial ministers meet to discuss collaboration on the well-being of persons with disabilities
July 21, 2021 Gatineau, Quebec Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Social Services
Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers* Responsible for Social Services met virtually today. Participating ministers discussed improving collaboration to support persons with disabilities. Today’s meeting was co-chaired by the federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough and the Minister of Social Development for New Brunswick, Bruce Fitch.
At the virtual meeting, federal Minister Qualtrough requested the opportunity to brief her colleagues on the recently introduced Bill C-35, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, and the federal government’s ongoing work related to its Disability Inclusion Action Plan. The proposed Canada disability benefit aims to provide additional long-term financial support to persons with disabilities, and is intended to contribute to the financial well-being of persons with disabilities across Canada.
Ministers recognize that Canadians with disabilities face employment inequities, financial insecurity and hardship at higher rates than Canadians who do not have disabilities. Ministers also noted that the global COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated social and economic challenges, and that removing barriers for persons with disabilities will be key to Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery now, and in the long-term.
Ministers recognize that rural, remote, northern and Indigenous communities have unique challenges, and the importance of working with Indigenous communities and organizations to improve the lives of persons with disabilities.
Ministers in attendance agreed to meet again before the end of the year to discuss further areas for collaboration.
*Nova Scotia did not participate due to a provincial election.
“The reality is that too many persons with disabilities live in poverty in Canada and by creating a Canada disability benefit, we are making an investment in the realization of a fully inclusive society. Today’s commitment to collaboration represents an important step as the provinces and territories play a primary role in providing supports and services to Canadians with disabilities.”
-Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
“In New Brunswick, we are constantly working, and will continue to work, at improving services for persons with disabilities. We look forward to collaborating with our federal, provincial and community partners on the proposed Canada disability benefit which will complement the work we are doing on social assistance reform in New Brunswick, to identify gaps and opportunities for services that better meet the needs of persons with disabilities.”
-Minister of Social Development for New Brunswick, Bruce Fitch
Nearly 850,000 (21%) working-age Canadians with disabilities live in poverty, according to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability. Persons with severe disabilities (26%) and very severe disabilities (31%) are particularly vulnerable and experience a high rate of poverty, nearly three times the rate of persons without disabilities (11%).
In its 2020 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada committed to developing the first-ever Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), which will include:
oa Canada disability benefit;
oa robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities; and
oa better process to determine eligibility for federal disability programs and benefits.
In its Budget 2021, the federal government committed to undertake consultations that would feed directly into the design of the new disability benefit, including engagement with provinces and territories, which play a central role in providing support to many Canadians with disabilities.
The federal government’s public engagement survey on the DIAP is open until August 31, 2021. Canadians are encouraged to complete the online survey and share their views, to help guide the development of DIAP.
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Department of Social Development