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Lene Andersen says it’s hard to be optimistic about Ottawa’s plans for Canadians with disabilities after waiting months for emergency funding that was promised but never came This is something the minister of Jobs, Carla Qualtrough, takes it personally
« It’s so unacceptable and it’s so frustrating because of how quickly we identified this need, » Qualtrough said, adding that the government was only « a few weeks » from the distribution. money
« It has taken way too long and it won’t happen again, » she said in an interview with the Star this week
Andersen, author and Toronto advocate who lives with rheumatoid arthritis, is among the millions of people living with disabilities in Canada who the government had in mind when it pledged emergency funding it four months ago She has lived in a wheelchair for decades, writes a blog on her website called The Seated View, and writes books for people with chronic illness
In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged one-time, tax-free funding of up to $ 600 for people with a disability tax credit certificate At the time, he recognized the « significant challenges » people with disabilities face during the COVID-19 pandemic
She is a person who fell through the cracks of the system when the pandemic rocked the country in March She was not eligible for CERB and does not receive a disability pension because she has an income As a freelance writer with a disability, « I’m in that gray area that’s not bad enough for me to have to apply for benefits, but not to the point where I can be as comfortable as I would like , ”Andersen said
Emergency funding is « not huge, but it is definitely something that would be welcome, » she added.
« We have the impression that disabled people are once again the last on the list, and optional in addition »
For advocates, people with disabilities and the federal government, the pandemic has exposed systemic issues that have long been in place in the country
Maureen Haan, president of the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work, says people with disabilities in Canada already live at the low end of the social support ladder But the pandemic has made this evident in an easy to grasp amount , she said
When the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) arrived, eligible Canadians could claim $ 2,000 per month if their jobs were affected by the pandemic Millions of Skilled Canadians
For people with disabilities on income support, they normally receive an average of $ 1,000 a month, Haan said
« So the average person who contributes to society is worth $ 2,000 But a disabled person is worth $ 1,000, » she says
« In the next pandemic, or if there is a huge second wave, we cannot be in a position where the federal government cannot provide money for people with disabilities »
It’s like not having a complete list of people with disabilities, she said, like the ones they have for seniors on Guaranteed Income Supplement or Old Age Security To get money to seniors, they could just make payments to everyone on those lists because there is a distribution system in place, Qualtrough said.
« What we knew when we came in, and what was really emphasized, is that we don’t necessarily have that kind of a system for people with disabilities, » she said
« In part because disability supports have always been provided by the provinces, and in part because our disability policy in this country is largely dictated by tax policy »
In order to direct payments to Canadians with disabilities, Ottawa has tried to use the list of people with a disability tax credit certificate, but this is not for everyone Officials have reviewed the lists of Veterans Affairs and Disabled Persons Canada Pension Plan, but there was a lot of overlap or different data collection processes, she said.
However, the process is almost over and Qualtrough said they tried to ‘capture as many people as possible’ as they prepared to finally distribute the funds.
In September, the government’s Speech from the Throne promised even more to help Canadians with disabilities, including a national employment strategy, a new Canada Disability Benefit and an overhaul of how program eligibility and benefits is determined
When they restructure the eligibility aspect of things, Qualtrough said it wouldn’t be a « function of tax policy, » meaning they’ll be able to identify people through the new ones. eligibility criteria for programs, then help them directly
Andersen said she would wait to see details of the plans laid out in the Speech from the Throne
« People with disabilities and anything related to people with disabilities is, honestly, I think it’s based on a charity model, » she said
« It’s billed as something people do because it’s the right thing to do So it becomes more of a question of privilege and more of something we do if we have the extra money «
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News from the world – CA – Canadians with disabilities wonder what happened to the COVID-19 money Justin Trudeau promised them
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