Question Period: Canada Disability Benefit

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Hon. Andrew Cardozo: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. It is regarding the government’s affordability agenda. This agenda goes back to 2016 with the Canada Child Benefit and the enhanced Canada Pension Plan. In the past year, there has been the national child care program, dental care, Pharmacare, the disability benefit and housing.

Over the past year, I’ve been having a conversation with a citizen by the name of Jeffrey. Yesterday, he asked me to ask you this question: Given that the Canada Disability Benefit Act was passed in June of last year, when will the legislative funds start flowing?

Could you provide this information for Jeffrey and others who might find the federal system rather opaque with respect to understanding how these things happen? Speaking generally, once an act is passed, how do you begin making the funds flow?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question and, through you, to Jeffrey for his interest.

On several occasions, I have answered in this chamber that I am not in the position to provide information with regard to the disability benefits under the act that we passed. As senators know and for whomever is watching, many steps are involved. In some cases, it includes the regulatory process; in other cases, it includes work with stakeholders or the provinces and territories. Generally speaking, though it may appear opaque to observers, it is important that when legislators pass laws, they be implemented carefully, responsibly and prudently. That is what this government is doing and what all governments ought to do.

Senator Cardozo: My supplementary is on another aspect of affordability — namely, housing. The Premier of Alberta has said that when the federal government signs contracts with the municipalities, it is overreaching.

Senator Gold, do you see a path to making these contracts with municipalities while working with provinces in doing so?

Senator Gold: Again, here, we confront the challenges of cooperative federalism. Some provinces are less allergic to having municipalities and the federal government enter into agreements in areas of municipal jurisdiction, such as bylaws; others are like Alberta and my province of Quebec. At the end of the day, the Government of Canada and the provinces will work together in the best interests of Canadians.

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