Morrice aims to fast-track income program for people with disabilities
KITCHENER — Kitchener Centre MP Mike Morrice is behind a national campaign to get Canadians with disabilities lifted out of poverty.
Morrice sponsored a petition, with more than 17,800 signatures from across the country, calling for the proposed Canada Disability Benefit to be fast-tracked. He presented it Thursday morning in the House of Commons.
In an interview after the petition was submitted, Morrice said that people with disabilities make up 21 per cent of the population, but make up 41 per cent of those living in poverty.
People on the Ontario Disability Support Program, for example, receive about $497 a month for their housing allowance.
“There is not a single apartment in Kitchener available for that amount,” he said.
This leaves many disabled people vulnerable to homelessness unless they happen to have family or friends who can help them.
“This is where government is letting us down,” he said.
The Liberal government has already promised to introduce a national disability benefit, which would bring the incomes of up to 1.5 million people above the poverty line by topping up provincial income programs.
However, the government hasn’t passed any legislation, and the issue was not mentioned in last fall’s Throne Speech, Morrice said.
Morrice, one of only two Green party MPs in the House of Commons, has engaged with representatives of all the other parties, in an effort to fast-track this legislation with broad consensus from across the political spectrum.
He said he heard about this issue from constituents in the Kitchener Centre riding when he was canvassing in the past two federal election campaigns.
He was approached by the advocacy group Disability Without Poverty to bring the issue forward.
The petition, drafted by Michelle Hewitt who is co-chair of the Disability Without Poverty group, calls on the federal government to not only fast-track the development and implementation of this benefit, but to ensure people living with disabilities are involved at every step of the process.
The government now has 45 days to respond to the petition.