With the federal government under fire for failing to meet the cost of housing for some of its most vulnerable citizens, more than 60 percent of Canadians surveyed say they or someone they know is struggling to afford the basic necessities of life.
The National Household Survey on Disability found a whopping 60.9 per cent said they or their spouse or partner has difficulty paying the rent for a one-bedroom apartment, compared to just 6.7 per cent who said the same about a two-bedroom.
The survey, conducted by the Angus Reid Institute and the Angus Deans Research Group between January 20 and 27, found that Canadians with disability have experienced a steep drop in income over the past five years, from a median income of $72,000 in 2013 to $48,000 last year.
The report said the average income for a single person with a disability was just $28,000, while for a couple with a disabled adult, it was $36,000.
The average income of a family with a person with disability was $76,000 this year.
A recent report by the Ontario-based Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that Canada has the worst disability insurance coverage in the world, with just over 40 per cent coverage available for people with disabilities.
The Canadian Centre said it had been working with other provinces and territories on a national disability insurance plan that would cover more than 50 per cent and that more needs to be done to ensure people with disability are covered.
“Canada’s poor coverage of disability benefits is costing the lives of tens of thousands of people, leaving them with chronic health conditions that threaten their ability to work and contribute to their communities,” said Linda Wachter, the executive director of the Canadian Centre.
The Angus Dean Research Group, a non-partisan think-tank that studies social policy and public policy issues, said in a report published in July that a federal government policy that was set to phase out the disability pension for seniors in 2019 and eliminate the pension in 2020 was in breach of the Canada Health Act and the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The study, which is being released in partnership with the advocacy group Disability Rights Ontario, said that under the Conservatives’ planned disability reforms, disability benefits would be phased out by 2020 and replaced by a tax-free income supplement that would only cover income over $125,000 per year.
In its report, the Angus Institute said the plan would not have paid for the elimination of the disability income supplement, but it said the Tories were “playing with fire” by trying to roll back the changes by 2020.
The research said there are about 13 million people with severe disabilities living in Ontario, with more than 7.5 million people in Ontario with severe disability, or 6.8 per cent, the highest rate in the country.
The new report said that even as a single adult, an adult with severe mobility impairments has a higher disability benefit claim than a person who is a single parent with a child with disabilities, which means a single, single parent has a $100,000 disability benefit.
The poll also found that nearly half of Canadians (47 per cent) say they are not able to pay the full cost of rent for their home.
The Angus Deanes Research Group found in a recent report that one-quarter of Canadians live in rental arrears, with most of those in Toronto and Vancouver paying less than $300 a month for a two bedroom.