Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday March 26, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Federal government to send $600 to some Canadians with disabilities

To help Canadians with disabilities pay for unexpected expenses due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the federal government will be sending them a one-time tax-free payment of up to $600, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday.

The payment will be automatically provided to individuals who are certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit as of June 1, 2020.

Canadians who have a valid certificate for the Disability Tax Credit will receive $600, officials said.

Seniors who are certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit and eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive a payment of $300, in addition to the special COVID-19 one-time OAS pension payment of $300. 

Those who are certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit and are eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will be receiving $100, in addition to the combined $500 from the special COVID-19 one-time OAS pension and GIS payments.

“We know this pandemic has deeply affected the lives and health of all Canadians, and disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities in particular,” said in a statement Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough.

“The cost to safely get groceries, medication, and other basic necessities has increased, while services like disability support workers and therapy may be unavailable because volunteer and subsidized services have declined.”

Tracy Odell, 61, president of Citizens with Disabilities Ontario and a lifelong advocate, poses for a photograph at her home in Scarborough, Ont., on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. (Tijana Martin/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The funding announcement is expected to benefit about 1.25 million Canadians with disabilities who are facing additional expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

In addition to the one-time payments, the federal government is launching two new accessibility-focused programs.

The first program will get $15 million in 2020-21 to provide community organizations with resources to improve workplace accessibility and access to jobs in response to COVID-19, including by helping employers set up accessible and effective work-from-home arrangements.

The second program will invest $1.8 million in five new projects across the country that work on things such as accessible payment terminals for retailers and tools to make communication easier for Canadians with disabilities in the digital economy.

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