By Jeffrey J. Moorley, Partner – White Macgillivray Lester LLP

On June 22, 2023, Bill C22 received royal assent, creating the Canada Disability Benefit Act.

In what is being heralded as “landmark disability legislation”, the Act establishes the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB) with the stated goals of reducing poverty and supporting the financial security of working-age persons with disabilities.

Eligibility will depend on the applicant’s income, age (18-65), and disability. Coming regulations will lay out the specific eligibility criteria.

The federal government has not announced when applications will open. 

The amount of the benefit will be indexed to inflation.

During the legislative process, disability advocates asserted that this benefit ought to supplement, and not replace, existing provincial disability benefits (such as the Ontario Disability Support Program) and private disability benefits (such as long-term disability benefits or income replacement benefits through auto insurance). 

It is very concerning that insurance companies may be permitted to clawback or deduct the CDB. If that happens, recipients of the benefit may not be any better off and private companies will receive a windfall gain from public dollars.  

Sadly, proposed amendments prohibiting clawbacks did not make it into the Act. It remains to be seen whether clawbacks will be prohibited under the Act’s regulations and what the Court’s position will be on clawbacks once the issue is litigated.

The future of the Canada Pension Plan – Disability (CPP-D) program is unclear. To be eligible for this similar federal benefit, applicants need to have made previous contributions to the Canada Pension Plan and a “severe and prolonged” disability. Eligibility does not depend on the income of the applicant.

Denied CDB applications will be appealable. 

White Macgillivray Lester LLP regularly helps clients access Canada Pension Plan – Disability (CPP-D) benefits through the application, reconsideration, and appeal stages.

If you or someone you know may meet the eligibility criteria for the Canada Disability Benefit, consider following the federal government’s rollout of this benefit.