People With Disabilities in Poverty Trap, Says Report

October 12, 2017
Article Source
The Tyee

Canada is continuing to leave people with disabilities in poverty, says a report released Thursday by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ).

The faith-based organization's annual report on poverty trends shows people with disabilities are more likely to be living in poverty than other Canadians.

More working adults are joining the ranks of the impoverished, the report found.

Brad Wassink, communications coordinator for CPJ, said part of the problem is that the federal government is not paying attention to impoverished Canadians as it promotes an agenda aimed at helping the middle class. 

"All the talk about the middle class completely ignores people living in poverty," he said.

The median income for people with disabilities in Canada is nearly half that of those without disabilities, and 23 per cent of people with disabilities between 25 and 64 are living in poverty, according to the report. About 13.9 per cent of all Canadians live in poverty.

Wassink said former Conservative government policies meant to ease poverty focused on employment, so those unable to work couldn’t take advantage of government initiatives. He said under the Liberals, the approach has changed a little but not much.

"People with disabilities are pretty highly represented among EI [Employment Insurance] recipients," he said. "There's big gaps in the program there in terms of benefits."

People are "slipping through" those gaps, Wassink said.

New Democrat critic for persons with disabilities Cheryl Hardcastle said policy-makers need to keep people with disabilities in mind when creating or working on any government program.

"Poverty and disability do seem to go hand in hand, unfortunately," Hardcastle said. People with disabilities face many challenges not recognized by others in society, she said. 

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