New Brunswick

Disability advocates applaud federal pandemic aid, but say payment should be higher

Disability advocates are glad the federal government is providing pandemic aid to those who are eligible, but feel the amount needs to be higher.

A one time payment of up to $600 will be sent to those who are eligible, at the end of October

Murielle Pitre is the director of communications for the New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities. She says the pandemic has brought extra costs for some disabled people. (Kate Letterick/CBC News )

As a disabled person, Murielle Pitre has dealt with extra costs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

"You have like increased fees, deliveries and deliveries for food, the price of food is going up. I mean you're not going out so you can't seek out the bargains as much as you used to," she said.

Pitre is also the director of communications for the New Brunswick Coalition of People with Disabilities.

She's heard from many people who are paying more for everything from transportation to personal care.

"I believe some had to hire maybe privately. You don't want people who go to 5 houses coming to your house if you have an immune disorder so it hasn't been easy for those people," Pitre said.

On Oct. 30, people with disabilities will receive a onetime payment of up to $600 from the federal government to help with the extra expenses. It was first announced back in June.

Accessible Canada tweeted out this announcement about the payment for people with disabilities. (Accessible Canada/Twitter)

The money is available to people who have an existing valid Disability Tax Credit certificate, those receiving Canada Pension Disability or Quebec Disability Pension benefits or those receiving disability support from Veterans Affairs Canada.

According to the federal government, some seniors may be eligible and parents of children with disabilities will receive a one-time payment. In total about 1.6 million people are eligible.

Pitre said that will help, but she'd like to see more money made available.

Randy Dickinson said it's regrettable it's taken this long for disabled people to receive what he calls "a rather modest one time payment".

Dickinson is the chairperson of the Premier's Council on Disabilities.

"It's frustrating that some of the most vulnerable and most needy Canadians are the last in line and also waiting months to get their support when other emergency payments were released within a matter of weeks after the pandemic started," Dickinson said.

Dickinson said the pandemic has created a number of financial difficulties for people with disabilities.

Randy Dickinson chairs the Premier's Council on Disabilities and says while he's glad the federal government has recognized the need for financial help during the pandemic, it should have been sent out sooner. (Submitted/Randy Dickinson)

"Maybe they've been struggling to pay the rent or pay bills for their hydro or what have you because of the ongoing difficulties of living with a low income, exacerbated by extra expenses that the pandemic has generated for the people who are least able to afford it," he said.

Dickinson said he's glad the federal government recognized the need for financial help, but he wishes the money had been sent out earlier.

He said the government should have considered more than one payment for people with disabilities, over a period of time, especially if the pandemic persists.

Murielle Pitre says people will have to decide how to spend the federal money, whether it's paying existing bills or stocking up on supplies in case COVID-19 cases start to rise again in this region.

"For me, I'm thinking of buying a small freezer so I can have more food available if I can't go out for a while," Pitre said.

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