Pass it NOW! Bill C-22: Canada Disability Benefit Act

April 15, 2024
Submitted by DAWN Canada
On March 30, 2023, DAWN Canada’s CEO Bonnie Brayton had the opportunity to speak to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology about Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, which would establish a new benefit for working-age people with disabilities. The highest rates of poverty, of unemployment, of gender-based violence (including sexual assault and childhood sexual assault) and abuse, as well as the majority of human rights complaints across every jurisdiction, belong to our community. These are the facts: according to Statistics Canada, 24 per cent of women—nearly one quarter—have identified as having a disability. For Indigenous and Black women, it’s above 30 per cent. Having financial resources offers choice and agency. Gaps in financial security force women to stay in precarious situations, as they are often reliant on family and friends for support. This means that a woman with a disability is more likely to stay with an abusive partner and is more vulnerable to interpersonal violence. Women often find themselves ineligible for provincial financial supports because of their relationship status, and are also unable to leave their partners because of a lack of independent income. The Canada disability benefit would offer women with disabilities choice, and in many cases would ensure that they are not trapped in violent or abusive situations. Women with disabilities need financial support. This cannot wait. Women with disabilities in Canada have better access to MAID (medical assistance in dying) than they do to safety, housing, dignity and a decent life today in Canada. DAWN Canada urges the Senate Committee to push for accountability and outcomes, as our community has been left behind. Nothing can be more important than this until it is done. Recommendation: DAWN Canada recommends strongly and urgently that the Senate Committee pass this legislation without amendments, and let us all begin the work together in the regulatory process that will follow.