Nice shiny teeth- but nothing to sink them into- Federal Budget 2023
Response to the March 28, 2023, Federal Budget from the NB Coalition of Persons with Disabilities
The Federal budget came and went and once again many Canadians with disabilities felt let down; too many were expecting the announcement of the funding required to launch the Canadian Disability Benefit. It was not there- but it is not all doom and gloom!
If you deep dive into the budget, you will see a few items for us. First, they have recognized that too many provinces and territories have yet “to develop more appropriate, long-term solutions to address RDSP legal representation issues for persons with disabilities” and have extended the qualifying member provision for RDSP’s. Secondly, they also invested $10 million over 2 years for capacity building and community level work of disability organizations. Third, $ 21.5 million was committed to continue the regulatory work for the Canadian Disability Benefit. Groups and persons with Disabilities demanded to have input into every aspect of this plan to make sure it works for us- that takes a lot of time. These funds are to complete the final component, including what needs to be in the MOU with NB. We are willing to bet both governments will come through with their part before going to the polls. We will gladly take the funds to keep us alive, but we will not forget these political games played at our expense.
Ultimately, we must always remember that Canada’s constitution has a clear division of powers, and no level of government can interfere in another’s domain. Provinces and Territories are responsible for social development and hence Provincial/territorial disability plans and benefits, not the Feds. The Federal government has essentially stopped believing in the Provinces or Territories willingness to do the right thing and step up so that’s what the Federal Disability Benefit is about; but because it is not a Federal power, it is a tricky situation that requires multiple extra steps. We are nearing the final ones. I know that so many of our members who are unable to work, or work full time due to their disability simply cannot live on “we are nearing the final steps” and there will likely be many sad consequences from this; they were hanging on to hear the benefit was starting. Until the regulatory process is finalized and MOU’s are entered into, each province should be stepping up and providing a stop gap benefit. It is 30 to 40% more expensive to live with a disability, and $832 is not nearly enough for an able-bodied person, let alone a person with a disability. Provinces are all running huge surpluses, they cannot claim they do not have the funds, nor can they ignore the additional physical and mental health issues this deep poverty causes. We know NB’s finance Minister is sorely out of touch with the financial status of so many in NB, making the comment in yesterday’s Legislature that NB residents making $75 000 are paying $600 less in provincial taxes than 5 years ago. Does he not realize that 26.7% of NB residents with disabilities are not making $75 000- we are barely receiving $7500. It’s time for the province of NB to step up and take care of its largest demographic and most vulnerable population- now; at least until the Feds step in to do it for them!
But hey, until that time, we will have nice, shiny teeth from the dental plan and a few extra dollars for groceries with the extra GST/ grocery rebate payment- that is if we can find the accessible transportation to get us there!
The NB Coalition of Persons with Disabilities