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‘Heart breaks’: Advocates say new disability benefit still leaves people in poverty

Advocates say a disability benefit that was supposed to be a historic move to lift people out of poverty turned out to be a disappointment in the federal budget.

The new Canada Disability Benefit will provide a maximum of $2,400 a year—or $200 a month — for low-income people with disabilities. 

The benefit is expected to be given to about 600,000 people and won’t kick in until July 2025. 

Rabia Khedr, national director of Disability Without Poverty, says the benefit falls far short of what it intended to do when it was legislated in June 2023. 

Kamal Khera, the federal minister of diversity, inclusion and persons with disabilities, says the benefit is a “major milestone” but acknowledges there is more work to do.

But Khedr says there was hope it “would end disability poverty,” which she says affects more than 1.5 million people in Canada.   

“My heart breaks for people who are waiting for this benefit as a lifeline. This was hope. This was the light at the end of the tunnel,” Khedr said in an interview on Wednesday. 

“We thought we were on the brink of making history, creating systems change,” she said. “We had faith in the system.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2024.

Canadian Press health coverage receives support through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. CP is solely responsible for this content.

Nicole Ireland and Sarah Ritchie, The Canadian Press

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