Long-promised disability aid payments to be made in the fall

Published Aug. 6, 2020 12:43 p.m. ET

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OTTAWA -- Canadians with disabilities waiting on the federal government’s promised one-time non-taxable payment of up to $600 will begin receiving that money sometime this fall.

As part of the modified payment program, the federal government has decided to expand eligibility to thousands more disabled Canadians, and as a result has opened up a 60-day application window for those looking to access the benefit, to apply for the existing federal Disability Tax Credit.

The one-time payment will be sent to all those who are certified under that program, and Canadians who may be eligible but aren’t already certified, now have until Sept. 25 to apply.

“We recognize that since the application process involves medical professionals, the time allotted must be sufficient to allow for medical appointments and paperwork to be completed which may take longer during the pandemic,” Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough’s office said in a statement.

The government estimates that 1.7 million Canadians will be able to receive the payment, citing those who currently receive other federal and provincial disability aid as potentially eligible.

The amount that each applicant will receive will vary if they are accessing other federal aid payment, such as the one-time payment made to seniors:

  • Canadians who have a valid certificate for the Disability Tax Credit will receive $600.
  • Canadians who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive $300.
  • Canadians who are eligible for both of these programs and are also eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will be receiving $100.

The financial aid payment was first promised on June 5 and was meant to offset the financial pressures of the pandemic, by sending the payments to all who are already eligible and had a valid certificate for the Disability Tax Credit.

The government said that those who were eligible—at the time 1.2 million Canadians at a cost of $548 million— would receive it automatically, without applying. That remains the case, but anyone who is not yet eligible for the Disability Tax Credit but could be has to apply and be approved in order to receive this money.

The piece of legislation that allows the one-time payments to be implemented, Bill C-20, received royal assent on July 27. This comes after the Liberals failed to get the all-party support needed to pass an earlier aid bill that included the payments. After that, the government said it was looking at other ways to deliver the payments but then returned to the legislative route. 

In order to deliver these payments accurately, Employment and Social Development Canada is in the process of building a new delivery system.

“We are going to do the heavy lifting. It is going to be super complicated administratively at the back end, but as a result we are doing the best we can to deliver,” Qualtrough said when speaking to Bill C-20 in the House of Commons on July 20.

Some Canadians with disabilities watched the various announcements for students, seniors, and other targeted demographics during the thick of the emergency phase of the pandemic, and were left wondering why they appeared to have fallen through the cracks.

Many already living on a low income are facing more expenses due to the pandemic, such as increased costs for personal support workers, private transportation, grocery delivery fees and prescription drug dispensing fees.

“This one-time payment is a very important step, but it is just one of many steps that need to be taken to ensure a quality of access and opportunities for people with disabilities in Canada… As we work hard to safely restart our economy and recover from the impacts of COVID-19, we cannot leave anyone behind, and we certainly cannot leave our most innovative, creative problem-solvers, who are our citizens with disabilities, behind either,” said Qualtrough.


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