Federal Budget Sends New Signal to Disability Community

For Immediate Release | 29 January 2009

Federal Budget 2009 included some measures beneficial to people with disabilities. “We will be seeking to meet with the Ministers responsible for the Budget’s expenditures to ensure all initiatives are inclusive of people with disabilities,” states Marie White, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD). “We are focusing on the Strategic Training and Transition Fund which will support training for people who are not EI eligible,” continued White. Barriers in the labor market prevent some people with disabilities from attaining EI eligibility.  “I was at a pre-budget consultation with the Minister of Finance and the message from that consultation was invest in people.  This Budget shows the Minister was listening,” states White. “This Budget has taken important steps to invest in the well-being of Canadians, including people with disabilities.  There is more to be done but this moves in the right direction.”

The poverty of Canadians with disabilities is a national disgrace.  The Budget’s measures to reduce the tax burden on low income Canadians will mean a little more money for Canadians with disabilities who are among the working poor.  “For Canadians with disabilities living on social assistance, this budget did nothing for them,” states White. “CCD is continuing to advance a basic income program which would move people with disabilities out of poverty.”

Accessible post-secondary education is one of the keys to inclusion.  “We will be monitoring the $2 billion budget project to retrofit post-secondary institutions to ensure that these modifications provide access for students with disabilities,” added White.

CCD is pleased the Budget is investing $20 million to improve access to government buildings.  CCD calls for all infrastructure initiatives to ensure full access for persons with disabilities.

As finding accessible housing is a challenge for people with disabilities, the Budget’s housing measures are welcome news. Budget 2009 increases the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) withdrawal limit to $25,000 from $20,000.  The increase applies to HBP withdrawals made for the purchase of a more accessible or functional home, where the withdrawal is made for the benefit of a person eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) and who is related to the individual making the withdrawal.

CCD welcomes the Budget’s opportunities and challenges.  One future challenge will be expanding eligibility for the DTC because increasingly benefits for Canadians with disabilities require DTC eligibility.

For more information contact:
Marie White, CCD Chairperson – 709-739-8233
Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator – 204-947-0303 or 204-981-6179 (cel)