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PRESS RELEASE: Proposed Opportunities Act Would Have Positive Effects for Persons with an Intellectual Disability

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Toronto, ON - The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) commends the recent introduction of The Opportunity for Workers with Disabilities Act (Bill C-395) in  the House of Commons. The Opportunities Act would ensure that persons with disabilities never lose more in benefits and taxation than they gain as a result of earning increased employment income.

"Only 25.5% of working-age people with an intellectual disability have any paid employment compared to the national average of 75.5%. This legislation helps break the link that exists between persons with an intellectual disability and systemic poverty," said Joy Bacon, President of CACL.

Canadians with an intellectual disability are among the most vulnerable in Canadian society, with many persons already living in poverty and excluded from paid employment. ‘Clawback’ rules in social assistance are part of the problem, creating disincentives to work. Nearly half (43.7%) of working-age people with an intellectual disability were on provincial or territorial social assistance as their primary source of income at some point in 2009.

"Ending poverty of persons with disabilities is a shared responsibility between both federal and provincial/territorial governments," said Krista Carr, CACL’s Executive Vice-President. 

The Government of Canada has begun the process of developing a national poverty reduction strategy. Should Parliament not pass the bill into law, we would encourage integrating the proposals within the federal government's national poverty reduction strategy.

People with intellectual disabilities are far less likely than others to have access to paid employment and disproportionately rely on government sources of income assistance. CACL believes the provisions of Bill C-395 are a strong evidence-based response to their long-standing poverty and labour force exclusion. Adopting these provisions, by one means or another, would bring much needed federal leadership to the issue of income security for people with disabilities along with a framework for federal-provincial/territorial collaboration that has been lacking for far too long.

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Media Contact:
Agata Zieba, Senior Communications Officer, CACL, azieba@cacl.ca.