Long-awaited one-time disability payment to be distributed Friday
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough listens during a press conference on COVID-19 at West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
OTTAWA -- The federal government’s promised one-time payment for Canadians with disabilities who are struggling through the pandemic will be distributed this Friday after months of delay.
The government anticipates close to 1.6 million Canadians will receive the tax-free payment of up to $600, which they say will help offset additional costs incurred over the last several months such as grocery delivery, travel, medication, and personal protective equipment.
To receive the support, applicants must have had an existing and valid Disability Tax Credit (DTC) certificate by the September 25 submission deadline or be a beneficiary of the Canada Pension Plan Disability, the Quebec Pension Plan Disability Pension, and, or one of the disability plans under Veterans Affairs Canada as of July 1.
Last Friday, the Liberals extended the deadline to apply for the DTC until December 31 to expand eligibility. Even so, some critics are concerned about the scope of reach.
The NDP’s Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion critic Daniel Blaikie says he fears support won’t get out to those who need it most because they don’t know how to apply or don’t have access to a medical practitioner -- necessary for the completion of the DTC application.
"It requires time, money and resources. If you don’t have access to a computer it’s a hell of a lot harder to go through that process, if you have a hard time getting to a Service Canada office or a tax office, it’s a lot harder to do it," said Blaikie in an interview with CTVNews.ca.
He added it’s unacceptable it has taken since June, when the benefit was announced, to implement it.
"Waiting for over seven months now is just ridiculous. People needed this in the first lockdown, we’re headed into the second lockdown," he said. "I’m disappointed for people living with disabilities and I understand their rage and frustration and I’ve heard a lot of it directly."
In an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca, Minister Carla Qualtrough said the government has worked "tirelessly" to develop a new system to distribute the one-time payment, recognizing the current mechanisms for getting support to this group are fragmented.
"We know that COVID-19 has highlighted long-standing challenges as it relates to disability inclusion, which is why we’ve committed in the Speech from the Throne to bring forward a Disability Inclusion Plan with a better process to determine eligibility for Government disability programs and benefits," she said.
"I will continue to work for a disability inclusive Canada where policies, programs and services respond to the needs of Canadians with disabilities."
The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates the measure will cost $792 million in its first year.