Backgrounder: Supporting Canadians with disabilities - Canada Disability Benefit 


The Government of Canada has introduced legislation to create a new Canada Disability Benefit (CDB). The benefit would help reduce poverty among low-income, working-age Canadians with disabilities by providing direct financial support.

The CDB is a cornerstone of Canada’s first-ever Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), a commitment made in the 2020 Speech from the Throne. Engagement on the Action Plan is underway with a focus on developing concrete actions that will contribute to:

  • reducing poverty;
  • creatring more good quality jobs for persons with disabilities;
  • helping to realize the Accessible Canada Act’s stated objective of a barrier-free Canada by 2040;
  • making it easier for persons with disabilities to access federal benefits, programs and services; and
  • fostering a culture of inclusion to equalize longstanding inequities.

In the spirit and principle of “nothing without us”, the CDB will be developed in consultation with persons with disabilities, disability organizations, Indigenous representatives and other stakeholders. The Government will also engage its provincial and territorial government partners on the CDB, as they play a central role in providing support to many Canadians with disabilities.

Beyond the introduction of CDB legislation, the Government will continue to support persons with disabilities in the post-pandemic recovery by continuing to build back better while “leaving no one behind”. 

The CDB legislation is the latest step to building a more accessible and disability inclusive Canada

  • Since 2015, the Government of Canada has named a Minister responsible for Persons with Disabilities, and signed on to both the Marrakesh Treaty and the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
  • The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) came into force on July 11, 2019. The Act includes seven priority areas: employment; the built environment; communication; information and communication technologies; the procurement of goods, services and facilities; the design and delivery of programs and services; and transportation.
  • Accessibility Standards Canada was established by the ACA to create, review and revise accessibility standards, and to lead research, in order to support society reach the highest level of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians.
  • The Government of Canada created the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group to advise the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion on the lived experiences of persons with disabilities during the pandemic, along with disability-specific issues, systemic gaps and potential responses.
  • Beginning October 30, 2020, the Government provided a one-time payment of up to $600 to support Canadians with disabilities with additional expenses incurred during the pandemic.
  • On September 23, 2020, the Government committed in its Speech from the Throne to bring forward the first-ever Disability Inclusion Action Plan that includes:
    • a new Canada Disability Benefit modelled on the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors;
    • a robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities with a focus on training, employment supports, barrier removal and the business case for disability inclusion; and,
    • a new, inclusive process to determine eligibility for federal government disability programs and benefits – one that reflects a modern understanding of disability. 
  • On February 15, 2021, the Canada Gazette (Part 1) published for comment the first set of proposed Accessible Canada Regulations under the ACA.
  • The Government of Canada is processing applications to fill two Governor in Council appointments, the Accessibility Commissioner and a Chief Accessibility Officer who will work to prevent and remove barriers to accessibility. The deadline for applications is June 28, 2021.
  • On June 4, 2021, the Minister launched the first round of engagement on the development of the Disability Inclusion Action Plan. Canadians can complete an online survey until August 31, 2021.

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