Feed Ontario was pleased to see the Senate passed its final reading of Bill C-22 today, an Act that creates a framework for a Canada Disability Benefit (CDB). This is an important first step in the fight to end poverty for Canadians with disabilities.

However, the real work begins now: developing the regulations that determine the amount that the CDB provides, who is eligible to receive the CDB, and whether the CDB will be clawed back by provincial support programs and private insurance companies.

At present, programs like Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) claw back 100 per cent of what recipients receive from federal programs they are eligible for, like Employment Insurance or the Canada Pension Plan. Feed Ontario has long advocated for a reduction in these claw backs to social assistance, as they leave recipients no further ahead than they were before – or in some cases, worse off, as they become ineligible for social assistance and lose access to in-kind benefits available through OW and ODSP, like health, dental, and vision care.

It is essential that the Government of Ontario does not claw back the CDB, as they do with other federal benefits, so that Ontarians living with a disability do not have to live in poverty. In the coming months, Feed Ontario will be working with our food banks, partners, and people with lived experience of poverty and disability to advocate the provincial government on this crucial issue.

Over the past few years, food bank use in Ontario has skyrocketed to record levels, due to factors like the rising cost of housing, food, and other essentials as well as increasingly inadequate incomes from social assistance, precarious work, and other failing elements of the social safety net. It has become increasingly more difficult to escape poverty. Living with a disability is a major driver of poverty: in a recent survey of food bank visitors, 71 per cent of respondents identified as having a disability. To move the needle on poverty, it is essential that we make progress on strengthening the social safety net for Canadians living with a disability.

We look forward to working with the provincial government on the implementation of the Canada Disability Benefit and ensuring it remains an accessible support for those living in poverty.