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Yukon Liberal MP echoes advocates dismayed about feds’ disability benefit

Brendan Hanley believes the amount proposed in his government’s “landmark legislation” falls short
Yukon MP Brendan Hanley speaks at a pre-budget re-announcement at Opportunities Yukon on April 5. Kamal Khera, federal minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, was also there. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

Yukon MP Brendan Hanley of the governing Liberal Party of Canada is echoing the disappointment of disability advocates who are arguing the federal government’s newly announced disability benefit doesn’t go far enough.

“I must say, I’m a little disappointed,” Hanley told the News by phone from Ottawa on April 17.

“Certainly, a lot of advocates have been asking for more.”

Kamal Khera, federal minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, was in Whitehorse for a pre-budget announcement on housing alongside Hanley on April 5.

Kamal Khera, federal minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, makes a pre-budget announcement on housing at Opportunities Yukon in Whitehorse on April 5. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

The 2024 federal budget, a 430-page document released on April 16, refers to launching the federal Liberal government’s “landmark legislation,” the Canada Disability Benefit Act.

The budget, which has yet to pass in the house, specifically proposes funding of $6.1 billion over six years starting this fiscal year for the new disability benefit.

The proposed amount is $200 per month, or $2,400 per year, for an estimated 600,000 eligible low-income people with disabilities between ages 18 and 64 across Canada.

A Yukon-specific estimate was not available from Hanley.

That works out to an “underwhelming investment” of just $6 per day for people with disabilities, according to an April 18 statement from the National Disability Network.

The network had been advocating for funding based on recommendations put forward by the Parliamentary Budget Office, per the statement.

The statement indicates the budget announcement falls short of “real consultation” with the disability community.

The network is calling for change by the 2024 fall economic statement.

“The National Disability Network strongly calls on the federal government to build on this initial investment and enhance the annual and monthly amount eligible to recipients,” reads the statement.

“The monthly amount is not adequate and will not succeed in the goal of removing people with disabilities from poverty. Time is of the essence to amend the federal government’s approach and enable financial independence for the disability community.”

The budget document indicates the disability benefit is intended to fill a gap between the Canada child benefit and old age security for people with disabilities. It is not intended to replace existing territorial and provincial income support measures.

“It will help those who are going to be eligible, who are people who are low income with disabilities, who are especially vulnerable to harder economic times. So, is it enough? Probably not,” Hanley said.

“We’ll be certainly looking for opportunities to increase that amount working with the provinces and territories around the country.”

Hanley said the budget generally focuses on housing and affordability, with a particular target on Gen Z and Millennials and a goal of “maintaining a strong fiscal position.”

As for the new Canada housing infrastructure program, involving $6 billion over 10 years beginning in 2024-25, it is meant to speed up building and fixing up water and sewer infrastructure.

Hanley said it’s too early to say how that money will be doled out, but it will likely be similar to the housing accelerator fund.

“We will be advocating for a base-plus as we always do for that type of distribution of federal funds,” he said.

Hanley noted the budget contains $8 billion in national defence spending over five years, and while there’s no hard promise yet, Hanley indicated an armoury or army reserves based in the Yukon is something the feds are seriously considering.

“That’s certainly, I think, on the table,” he said.

When speaking with reporters in the Yukon government cabinet office on April 17, Premier Ranj Pillai mentioned that a Yukon-based armoury is something he wants to happen and has been working on.

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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