North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney

North Island-Powell River MP frustrated with disability aid plan

The Liberal government’s long-awaited announcement about support for Canadians living with disabilities has left many frustrated, including North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney.

The government’s plan was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on June 5, six weeks after NDP MPs demanded and were given a commitment for aid for those living with disabilities. It would provide a one-time payment of up to $600 but only to people currently approved for the Disability Tax Credit.

“The Disability Tax Credit is a highly under-subscribed and problematic benefit,” Blaney said in a news release. “We already know that many of the people who need this support the most will again miss out if we use this criteria.”

The Disability Tax Credit program is administered by Canada Revenue Agency, and does not automatically include Canadians receiving disability benefits through the provinces, CPP, or Veterans Affairs.

Since 2016, Blaney has held 12 instructional workshops on the Disability Tax Credit in six different communities around her constituency to raise awareness about the program and to help people with the sometimes tricky process of applying.

“We’ve been able to help some people get back thousands of dollars they didn’t know they were owed, but it’s also been very clear how the program doesn’t work for many who need it most.”

A University of Calgary study from 2018 found that nearly 60 per cent of Canadians living with disabilities were not subscribed to the tax credit program due to low awareness, a burdensome application process, and the fact that as a non-refundable tax credit, it did not benefit those without taxable income.

“Once again, had the government worked with us on a plan for a universal emergency benefit, these gaps and failures could have been prevented months ago, and the people in our communities who need it would already have this money in their pockets.”

The benefit faces further delays as the minority government failed to obtain consent from all parties for their COVID aid bill, which also included measures that could criminalize those who improperly applied for the CERB.

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