International Day of Persons with Disabilities - We're Sending Our Christmas Wish List to Federal Government

December 2, 2010

For Immediate Release

Charlottetown—The Council of Canadians with Disabilities, a national human rights organization, praised the United Nations for establishing December 3rd as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, because CCD saw it as one vehicle for bringing attention to the many issues persons with disabilities face and which demand attention. "Due to the UN's efforts, today many people are more aware of the challenges faced by persons with disabilities and this is important because we know that even in a rich country like Canada, people with disabilities are hurting as a result of disability poverty," stated Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson. In 2006, the incidence of low income for working-age families was 17.2% but in families where the bread winner had a disability the rate was 32.8%.

Due to barriers in the labor market, many Canadians with disabilities rely on social assistance. "In 2008, for a single person with a disability, social assistance income ranged from $8,496 a year in New Brunswick to $13,337 in Alberta. In addition to typical daily living expenses, people with disabilities also incur extra expenses related to their disabilities. Thus many Canadians with disabilities living on social assistance struggle to survive day to day," states Marie White, Chairperson of CCD's Social Policy Committee. "More and more people with disabilities are forced to rely on food banks and other forms of charity," states Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson.

Many a newly disabled Canadian has been shocked to learn that the average Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit is only $810.70 a month and that is only if you meet stringent eligibility requirements.

For this year's observance of December 3rd, CCD is drawing attention to the disproportionate level of poverty experienced by Canadians with disabilities in comparison to their nondisabled counterparts. Many Canadians assume that people with disabilities are well provided for by disability pensions. Few, unless they have a family member with a disability, understand that disability and poverty are largely synonymous—disability can lead to poverty and poverty can result in disability.

"While, things are bleak for people with disabilities living in poverty, the situation is not hopeless. People with disabilities have developed a package of solutions – a National Action Plan - for addressing disability poverty and shared them with Canada's elected officials," stated Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator. The disability community's reforms were picked up by the House of Commons Committee that published the Federal Poverty Reduction Plan report. It called for a refundable Disability Tax Credit that would put more money into the pockets of Canadians with disabilities facing the severest level of poverty, more funding to get disabled Canadians back to work and the use of infrastructure funding to promote accessible transportation.

"On this December 3rd, we encourage all Canadians, with and without disabilities, to get behind the recommendations in the Federal Poverty Reduction Plan report," stated Marie White. "What I want for Christmas this year is a Federal Government commitment to a refundable DTC in the next Budget."


For More Information Contact:

Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator - (204) 981-6179 or (204) 947-0303
Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson - (902) 569-2817
Marie White, Chairperson, CCD Social Policy Committee - (709)739-8233