Opportunity Act Empowers Workers with Disabilities to Get Ahead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   -   February 5, 2018  -

OTTAWA, ON —Today Pierre Poilievre, the Official Opposition Shadow Finance Minister, introduced a bill to ensure that Canadians with disabilities can gain more from working than they lose to taxes and clawbacks. The bill responds to data showing that government policies punish people with disabilities when they get a job, earn a raise, or work more hours, forcing many to remain jobless and in poverty.

When people with disabilities get jobs and earn income, governments often sharply clawback means-tested social programs like income assistance, housing, and medication coverage. Combined taxes and clawbacks can exceed 100% of a person’s earnings, which means the harder they work, the poorer they become.

The Opportunity for Workers with Disabilities Act proposes a three-point plan:

1. Measurement
The bill would require Finance Canada to calculate and report publicly how much people with disabilities in each province lose in taxes and benefit clawbacks as a result of each additional $1,000 of working income they earn up to $30,000.

2. Action
Whenever the calculations show people losing more than they gain from work, the Finance Minister would have to propose changes to the Working Income Tax Benefit Disability Supplement, the Canada Pension Plan Disability Pension, or any other measure that might solve the problem.

3. Enforcement
The Opportunity for Workers with Disabilities Act would add another condition to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, requiring provinces to arrange their taxes and benefits in order to reward, rather than punish, the hard work of people with disabilities.

The federal government would not dictate how provincial social assistance programs work. Rather, it would instill a simple condition into the Canada Social Transfer: Canadians with disabilities in all provinces should gain more income than they lose to taxes and clawbacks when they work.

“The best anti-poverty plan is a job,” said Poilievre. “That is why governments should never punish work—especially the work of people with disabilities, whose determination and industriousness should inspire us all.”

“Work is a basic human need. Its wages feed, clothe, and shelter us. It offers the pride and purpose of doing something valuable for others. Work not only helps us to make a living but make a life. Almost a million people with disabilities work. Many more want the chance. It is time the government got off their backs and out of their way.” 


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