United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities

3 December 2010

Member of Parliament
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

Dear Sir/Madam:

Today is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. CCD encourages you to observe this day by considering disability poverty and committing to work with the disability community to improve the lives of Canadians with disabilities. People without disabilities are surprised to learn that disability and poverty are nearly synonymous, with disability leading to poverty and poverty contributing to disability.

  • For working-age people with disabilities, the poverty rate is 14.4 percent. The overall poverty rate for Canadian adults is 10.5 percent. 
  • Disability poverty is more severe for women with disabilities. Among people with disabilities living in poverty, 59% are women compared with 55.4% of people without disabilities living in poverty. 
  • Poverty is affected by living arrangements. For people who live alone, 31 percent with disabilities live in poverty compared with 21.3 percent of Canadians without disabilities. 
  • Poverty rates are considerably higher for persons with disabilities up to age 65, retirement age, then drop to the same levels as for retirement-age persons without disabilities.

Isolation is what poverty means qualitatively for children and adults with disabilities: not playing on sports teams; living in unsafe, substandard housing which may not have needed accessibility features; poor nutrition and dependence on food banks.

When surveyed about disability issues, Canadians invariably report being supportive of measures to help people with disabilities. Canadians want their taxes to have a positive affect. The disability recommendations made by the HUMA Committee in their "Federal Poverty Reduction Plan" report would improve the lives of Canadians with disabilities by reducing disability poverty by removing barriers in income assistance, training, and employment. Many of its recommendations are drawn from the disability community's National Action Plan to build a more inclusive and accessible Canada.

We encourage all Members of Parliament to support the HUMA Committee's recommendations. Recognizing they cannot be all implemented immediately, a refundable disability tax credit would be an excellent first step for the Government to take. Including a refundable DTC in the upcoming Federal Budget would be an excellent down payment on income security for people with disabilities facing the severest poverty.


Tony Dolan
CCD Chairperson