2004 Federal Budget

I'm sending a press release from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities regarding announcements in yesterday's federal budget. Specific measures that affect post-secondary students with disabilities include the addition of (up to) a $2,000 annual grant in the Canada Student Loans Program. As I understand it this grant can be used to cover educational costs -- tuition and books, for example -- other than disability related expenses.

"The grant will cover the lesser of $2,000 or the student's assessed federal need, thereby reducing barriers to access associated with the high costs faced by students with disabilities. The new grant will replace the existing grant for students with disabilities that is paid only to those who have financial needs in excess of the weekly loan ceiling. The Canada Study Grant for students with disabilities to cover the cost of education-related services and equipment (up to $8,000 per year) will still be available." (page 120 The Budget Plan 2004).

Importantly, the budget document also includes an announcement -- under "Better Tax Recognition of Disability Support Expenses" -- that there will be "a new deduction for disability supports, which will allow expenses in respect of disability supports to be deducted from income if they are incurred for education and (or) employment purposes. As a result, income used to pay for these expenses will not be taxed and will not affect income-tested benefits." (page 103 The Budget Plan 2004) What this means is that Canada Study Grants for Students With Permanent Disabilities will no longer be taxable income. The disability supports included in the budget are very comprehensive and include services and supports such as: sign language interpreters, attendant care services, talking textbooks, tutoring services, voice recognition software etc. A complete list can be found on pages 325 and 326 of the budget document.

The weekly loan limit for the Canada Student Loans Program will be increased from $165 per week to $210 per week. The budget also provides an increase in funding of $30 million annually for the federal-provincial-territorial Multilateral Framework for Labour Market Agreements for Persons With Disabilities -- most of us know this as EAPD -- that supports the workplace integration of persons with disabilities. This funding does provide support for post-secondary education in many parts of the country.

We will be monitoring the impact of the budget measures as things move forward.

Frank Smith, National Coordinator
National Educational Association of Disabled Students
Rm. 426 Unicentre, Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6
tel. (613) 526-8008

Federal Budget: Welcome News For Canadians with Disabilities

March 23, 2004

The First Investment in a Decade

Today’s Federal Budget made a down payment on what the Council of Canadians with Disabilities hopes will be a first step toward developing a long term action plan. This Budget did four things for Canadians with disabilities:

  • it provided a modest investment ($30 million) to address the employment supports and training needs of people with disabilities.
  • it made Canada Special Opportunities Grants for students with disabilities non taxable thus ensuring the principle that support for disability accommodation is not treated as income.
  • it created a new Disability Expenses Deduction for employment and education disability related expenses thus reducing taxable income for people with disabilities.
  • expanded the tax credit for those who are providing care for individuals with disabilities.

“While these are modest improvements, they are improvements. These actions coupled with the Throne Speech commitment give our community reason to hope,” said Marie White Chairperson of CCD. “This is the first real investment in disability supports for almost a decade,” said White. “We now seek the development of a 10 year plan to address the substantive disadvantage faced by Canadians with disabilities. The Action Plan must be developed jointly by governments and community and particular emphasis must be paid to Aboriginals with disabilities, youth and those who still reside in institutions,” said White.

“The Prime Minister has signaled his interest and support in addressing disability issues. Minister of Social Development Liza Frulla in a recent meeting indicated her strong support for the collaborative development of an action plan that takes into account the roles of federal and provincial governments and the views of people with disabilities,” said Laurie Beachell, National Coordinator of CCD.

Prime Minister Martin stated in the Throne Speech, “We want a Canada in which citizens with disabilities have the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from Canada’s prosperity – as learners, workers, volunteers, and family members.” “We are trusting the Government of Canada to live up to what it said it will do,” said Beachell.

Marie White, National Chairperson (Ph. 709-739-8233)

Laurie Beachell, National Coordinator (Ph. 204-947-0303)