Bill C-22, also referred to as the Disability Benefit Act, has now been ratified. Bill C-22 gained royal assent on June 22, 2023, although the legislation states that it will not take effect for another year.
The Disability Benefit Act was introduced by the federal government last year with the goal of providing federal income support to low-income, working-age adults with disabilities.
Disability Without Poverty launched an open letter to Parliament with the signatures of over 200 prominent Canadians, an open letter with the signatures of 43 senators, and a parliamentary e-petition signed by over 17,000 Canadians. Green Party MP Mike Morrice sponsored it.
Kristin Bell-Murray is a 41-year-old disabled Canadian who lives in Sudbury, Ontario. Bell Murray has multiple disabilities. They include Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS.
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a hereditary connective tissue disorder that affects the skin, ligaments, joints, blood vessels, and internal organs. EDS is characterized by skin extensibility, joint hypermobility, and tissue fragility. The prevalence of EDS is estimated to be 1 in every 5000 births.
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a chronic, frequently disabling condition characterized by orthostatic intolerance and an increase in heart rate without hypotension upon standing upright. Other common symptoms include fatigue, exercise intolerance, and gastrointestinal problems.
Bell-Murray hopes that this benefit will lift people out of poverty far enough so that they no longer feel the need to apply for MAiD.
In Canada, MAiD was initially legalized in 2016. Although the program was initially limited to those whose deaths were “reasonably foreseeable,” successive court challenges compelled the federal government to expand eligibility to anybody claiming a “grievous” or “irremediable” condition.
Since 2016, the number of Canadians dying by assisted suicide has increased drastically year after year. In 2021, the most recent full year for which data was available, 10,064 Canadians died from MAID while under a doctor’s care.
This was a 32.4% rise from the 7,630 Canadians who died in 2019. Shockingly, the percentage of people dying by MAiD in Canada has nearly doubled since 2018. Five years ago, 5,661 Canadians died after pursuing MAiD.
Disability benefits need to provide a livable income for everyone who needs them. Millions of disabled people around the world are forced to live in poverty. People are dying because of a broken system.
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Hopper, Tristin. “Disability Rights Groups Fight against Euthanasia.” National Post, , 5 Jan. 2023, https://nationalpost.com/opinion/disability-rights-groups-euthanasia.
Leffler, Brennan, and Marianne Dimain. “How Poverty, Not Pain, Is Driving Canadians with Disabilities to Consider Medically-Assisted Death.” Global News, 8 Oct. 2022, https://globalnews.ca/news/9176485/poverty-canadians-disabilities-medically-assisted-death/.
Meilleur, Destiny. “Disability Benefits Bill Receives Royal Assent as Advocates Voice ‘Cautious Hope.’” Global News, 26 June 2023, globalnews.ca/news/9789453/disability-benefit-act-bill-c-22-royal-assent/.
Raj, Satish R. ‘Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)’. Circulation, vol. 127, no. 23, American Heart Association, June 2013, pp. 2336–2342, https://doi.org10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.144501.
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