Federal Budget Analysis

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)

Carly Fox, Communications & Partnerships Director

June 14th, 2024

About NEADS

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), is a by-and-for, cross-disability national charity working to promote full access to post-secondary education and employment for disabled and neurodivergent students across Canada. We pursue research projects, resource programs, financial aid support, strategic partnerships, and so much more to achieve our objectives of reducing student debt, improving the student experience in-class and on-campus, and promoting meaningful employment opportunities.

Projects 

Pathways to Employment

NEADS’ Pathways to Employment project partners with Sustainable Livelihoods Canada, Canada Post, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) and the Quebec Association for Equity and Inclusion in Post-Secondary Education (AQEIPS) to improve employment opportunities in the postal and courier services sector and support job candidates with disabilities through mentorship, coaching, and additional accessibility-related resources. This project builds upon an ongoing partnership with Canada Post to deliver the annual Canada Post Student Award for one outstanding student with a disability who receives a $10,000 scholarship in support of their studies. Coaches hired through this initiative provide individualized career coaching to college and university students with disabilities interested in employment and internship opportunities with Canada Post. 

Pathways is funded through Employment and Social Development Canada’s Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity Program (WORBE), which supports programs breaking down employment barriers faced by marginalized groups when pursuing employment at federally regulated private sector firms.

Virtual Access 4 All

NEADS’ Virtual Access for All Project provides educational support and awareness aimed at students with disabilities transitioning into post-secondary education, and additional supports contributing to successful completion of their diploma and degree programs.

Accessibility and accommodations resources are provided through our quarterly State of the Schools publications, while our regular webinar series addresses topics such as self-advocacy, accessing accommodations at work and school, and transitioning into the workforce. Additional funding for NEADS’ Student Awards Program and the NEADS Accessibility Resilience Program (now amalgamated into our new Financial Assistance Program) supports financial support for hundreds of post-secondary students with disabilities. 

Virtual Access for All is generously supported by Employment and Social Development Canada’s Goal Getters Program (Supports for Student Learning), and has recently received an upward amendment in response to positive reception. 

Read Our State of the Schools Reports

Watch Our State of the Schools Tour Stop Recordings

Check Out Our VA4A Webinars

Financial Assistance Program

The new financial assistance program will blend together elements of the former NEADS Student Awards Program and Accessibility Resilience Program into one streamlined initiative that better responds to the needs of students with disabilities. This change is prompted by overwhelming feedback from the #MyNEADS community that the tuition based scholarships offered under the former NEADS National Student awards Program no longer adequately address the broad spectrum of financial needs facing students with disabilities. The Financial Assistance Program will introduce a new and exciting model of financial support. Applicants will have the option of applying to grants intended to offset the cost of items including tuition, assistive technology, computers and tablets, ergonomic equipment, rent, food, learning supports, mental health and wellness services and medical supplies.

The partner funded tuition scholarships offered under the former NEADS National Student Awards Program will also continue to be offered, including the Canada Post Award for Students With Disabilities, Accessible Media Inc. Sir Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarships and Connor Clark & Lunn Financial Group Scholarship. Other exciting improvements include a semesterly system of distributing funding rather than the former annual format of the NEADS National Student Awards Program and options to submit responses to short essay questions in alternative, non-written formats.

Watch Our Financial Assistance Programs Info Session

Learn More About Our Financial Assistance Program

Websites

Check Out NEADS’ Websites

• neads.ca 

• breakingitdown.neads.ca

• disabilityrightsonline.ca

• disabilityawards.ca

Social Media

Follow NEADS on Social Media

• twitter: https://twitter.com/myNEADS 

• facebook: https://www.facebook.com/myNEADS 

• instagram: https://www.instagram.com/myneads/ 

• youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ_SdoeYTb1yKOuFQLDEq7Q 

• linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/805448 

• newsletter sign-up: https://neads.us3.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=2f5ea1e24363b139a88883ccc&id=3d194222db 

Introduction

Following the tabling of Budget 2024: Fairness for Every Generation by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland on April 16th, the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) conducted a thorough review to identify potential measures, investments, and initiatives that may impact disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students across Canada. 

While we, like countless other disabled persons organizations are extremely disappointed by the Canadian Disability Benefit proposing a mere $200/month despite the clear legislated poverty crises seen across the country, we are encouraged by the many proposed investments and amendments designed to make post-secondary education more accessible, housing more affordable, and youth employment opportunities more widely available.

The following 2024 Federal Budget Analysis serves as an overview of measures related to NEADS’ mandate of promoting full access to accessible and inclusive post-secondary education and employment, as well as our core objectives of improving student experience in-class and on-campus, reducing student debt, and increasing student and graduate employment opportunities. 

As a by-and-for organization, we understand how disability impacts all aspects of life and how all aspects of life impact disability: for any disability-related questions or concerns not covered in this release related to the 2024 Federal Budget, please contact our Communications & Partnerships Director by email at carly.fox@neads.ca. 

Background

The Federal Budget is a document tabled annually in the House of Commons by the Minister of Finance that proposes new tax-raising measures and funding for programs, funds, and initiatives. For the proposed changes to be approved and implemented, the Budget must be voted in favour of by a majority of Members of Parliaments (MPs). 

After the Budget is tabled in the House of Commons and debated for 4 days, the government then develops a Budget Implementation Act which is voted on in the House of Commons. This Budget Implementation Act is very similar to the initially proposed Budget, but may include slight changes to encourage other parties to vote in favour of the bill. Under minority governments, including the current government, the political party in power needs to work with other parties to ensure their bill passes and they are able to implement their proposed changes.

To learn more about the procedures around the Federal Budget, check out https://www.ourcommons.ca/procedure/procedure-and-practice-3/ch_18_4-e.html#18-4-3-1 

Post-Secondary Education

Overview

As the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), the majority of our work revolves around promoting equitable and accessible post-secondary education for disabled and neurodivergent students at trade schools, colleges, CÉGEPs, and universities across Canada. 

While the gap between disabled and non-disabled students is encouragingly closing in trade schools and colleges, university-level educational attainment is lagging: 14% of persons with disabilities completed university education compared to 27% of their non-disabled counterparts (Statistics Canada, 2012). We have also noted disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students’ unmet accessibility needs in post-secondary education, and contribute to closing this gap through our Student Financial Assistance Program.

While funding for both K-12 education and post-secondary education institutions are a provincial responsibility, the Government of Canada can provide funding directly to educational institutions and community organizations supporting marginalized groups’ participation in primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. 

Investments

Budget 2024 proposes to provide $50 million over two years starting in 2024-26 to Employment and Social Development Canada to continue funding their highly successful Supports for Student Learning Program (SSLP). SSLP partners with community organizations to provide wrap-around supports such as mentorship, academic assistance, and after-school learning opportunities to youth at higher risk of dropping out of primary and secondary education, including LGBTQIA2S+, racialized, disabled, and Indigenous youth. As a recipient of SSLP funding through our Virtual Access 4 All project, we are thrilled at this news and greatly encouraged by the emphasis placed on ensuring at-risk youth are provided with the supports they need to complete secondary education and pursue post-secondary opportunities.

Budget 2024 also proposes the government’s intention to amend the Income Tax Act to made more expenses eligible for the Disability Supports Deduction, including service animals, alternative and assistive computer technology, and ergonomic equipment. This is a fantastic step forward in addressing the disproportionate costs disabled post-secondary students often pay out of pocket in order to have their accessibility needs met. This expanded support is estimated to cost $5 million over five years, with a continued cost of $1 million per year on an ongoing basis. 

Acknowledging the importance of trade school education and apprenticeship placements for countless disabled and neurodivergent students, we are thrilled to note the $100 million proposed for ESDC to continue supporting their Apprenticeship Service and Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness Program. 

We are also encouraged to see $5.2 million proposed for the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning to expand the availability of culturally-appropriate post-secondary education in The Northwest Territories, which is an important step in addressing how youth from rural and remote communities often must move away from their homes to pursue post-secondary education. 

Actions

In response to the housing and unaffordability crises sweeping Canada, the Government of Canada announced a cap on the number of study permit applications to decrease the number of international post-secondary students by 28% to sustainable levels. Like many other student groups, we are frustrated that provinces are not being held accountable for their contribution to this situation by relying on the financial exploitation of international students to finance gaps in provincial investments in post-secondary education. 

We are also concerned that under this 28% decrease, disabled and neurodivergent international students will be disproportionately harmed, and potentially discriminated against, as competition becomes more intense. We invite Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada to publish a public statement detailing what steps his department will take to ensure disabled international students are not adversely harmed by these visa cuts. 

Student Financial Assistance

Overview

Disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students across Canada face disproportionate costs in pursuing their education that limit the realization of truly equitable and accessible post-secondary opportunities. These costs can include higher per-class costs for part-time studies, out-of-pocket mental health and prescription bills, transportation costs due to reduced mobility, and much more. 

To address these persistent financial barriers to accessible education, NEADS has hosted the NEADS National Student Awards Program, which distributed over $687,000 to 228 students, and the Accessibility Resilience Program, which reimbursed $412,800 in out-of-pocket costs incurred by disabled post-secondary students. As we adapt to the changing post-secondary landscape, we have blended these programs together to create the new NEADS Financial Assistance Program to streamline our scholarship, reimbursement, and partner tuition scholarship offerings, including the $10,000 Canada Post Award and $5,000 Accessible Media Inc Sir Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarships. We also continue to offer the annual $1000 Holly Bartlett Memorial Award and $1000 Christine Nieder Memorial Award in recognition of two previous, outstanding NEADS Directors who have passed away. 

We also regularly engage in student debt-related advocacy with several offices across Employment and Social Development Canada, and have been a member of the National Advisory Group on Student Financial Assistance since 1987. Together, we were able to expand the Federal Grants for Students with Disabilities from students with permanent disabilities to include those with permanent, persistent, and/or prolonged disabilities in August 2023. The Canadian Student Financial Assistance Program has estimated that an additional 40,000 students with disabilities will now benefit under this expanded definition of disability. We were also able to advocate for the abolishment of interest on student loans alongside countless incredible student advocacy groups, and are hopeful this will remove a large part of the financial burden faced by recent disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary graduates. 

Investments

Budget 2024 announced the government’s intention to extend the temporary increase in Canada Student Grants and Canada Student Loans initiated at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic for the 2024-2025 academic year. With this continued increase, full-time Canada Student Grants will stay at $4,200 per year (up from $3,000) and Canada Student Loans will stay at $300 per week (up from $210) – with grants and loans for disabled and part-time students, and students with dependents. This measure will see 652,000 students continue to benefit from federal financial assistance in pursuing post-secondary, with $7.3 billion in funding for the upcoming academic year alone. 

In addition to the extension of temporary increases on federal student grants and loans, the government is pursuing two administrative amendments to support increased access to financial assistance. Budget 2024 proposes to modernize the shelter allowances used by the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program when determining financial need, which is estimated to make 79,000 additional students eligible for federal financial assistance. 

Further, Budget 2024 proposes the elimination of credit screenings for mature students applying for Canada Student Grants and Loans for the first time. Recognizing that many students with disabilities face long-term disruptions to their education and take more time to complete their degrees, we are confident that of the 1000 students made eligible annually through this amendment, disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students will be well represented.

On top of the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program, Budget 2024 proposes exciting increases and amendments to graduate funding packages, the Canada Learning Bond, and targeted support for First Nations students. As disability representation in academia is crucial for well-informed, ethical, and relevant research, we are thrilled with the $825 million has been proposed over five years to increase the annual value of master’s and doctoral student scholarships to $27,000 and $40,000 respectively, and post-doctoral fellowships to $70,000. We are also encouraged by the government’s intention to amend the Canada Education Savings Act to introduce automatic enrolment for the Canada Learning Bond for children in low-income households without RESPs, and to extend the retroactive claim age from 20 to 30 years. Finally, we are pleased to note the proposed increased support of $242.7 million over three years for First Nations students through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, noting the disproportionate prevalence of disability within Indigenous communities due to colonial violence and lasting impacts.

Actions

While NEADS is highly encouraged by Budget 2024’s proposal to increase and expand financial aid to post-secondary students with disabilities, we are aware that these measures currently do not stand to benefit disabled and neurodivergent students without medical documentation. From our overwhelmingly positive and constructive relationships with government programs such as Canada Student Financial Assistance Program, we are confident the government is aware of the barriers remaining to accessing financial aid and committed to working together to finding practical and sustainable new mechanisms for disability certification. 

Youth Employment

Overview

Youth face disproportionate barriers to both employment and education, yet can thrive under accessible and inclusive work-integrated and experiential learning opportunities such as summer jobs, paid internships, and co-op placements. However, more work must be done to close the gap between disabled post-secondary students and their non-disabled peers, with 34.6% of students with disabilities being employed compared to 53.9% of non-disabled students (Statistics Canada, 2015). 

As one of our strategic objectives, NEADS is passionate about expanding meaningful, impactful, and well-paid employment opportunities for disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students and graduates. As part of this commitment, we are currently delivering our Pathways to Education project through the Workplaces Opportunity Removing Barriers to Employment program, where we provide 1-on-1 job coaching to disabled post-secondary students while providing meaningful employment and skills development opportunities to our fantastic employees, all of who identify as disabled and/or neurodivergent post-secondary students or recent graduates.

Investments

We are thrilled to announce that Budget 2024 proposes $207.6 million to Employment and Social Development Canada to continue delivering their Student Work Placement Program, $150.7 million to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program (YESS), and $200.5 million to the Canada Summer Jobs program for the 2025-2026 fiscal year. All three of these programs create, maintain, and promote meaningful paid employment opportunities and skills development that disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students can greatly benefit from. 

The YESS has repeatedly shown its commitment to creating accessible and inclusive employment opportunities for disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students, and program delivery staff have been particularly receptive in past engagements with NEADS including roundtables with then-Minister of Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Jenna Sudds. The office’s identification of issues prevalent among disabled youth including feeling limited in their career paths and lacking individualized supports in recent bilateral discussions further speaks to their commitment to disability inclusion.

As a recipient of Canada Summer Jobs grants for several years, NEADS has been able to hire several disabled and/or neurodivergent post-secondary students – with most continuing part-time throughout the school year. The passion, lived experience, and new ideas they bring to our organization demonstrate both the immense potential of post -secondary students and how accessible employment opportunities can empower them.

We also understand that many persons with disabilities find employment through entrepreneurship, given the increased flexibility and specializations compared to other employment routes. That is why we are encouraged to see $60 million proposed over five years to Futurpreneur Canada to continue their work supporting over 17,700 youth entrepreneurs, and $200 million proposed for the continued support of the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, with emphasis on expanding access to venture capital for equity-deserving entrepreneurs.

Actions

While we are completely thrilled with the investments announced in Budget 2024, we would like to leverage this opportunity to identify the need for more flexible working hours, expanded funding for workplace accommodations, and a streamlined accommodations process across jobs offered through the Public Service of Canada. However, we are confident these concerns are being heard across government, and in particular by Tina Namieniowski, Senior Associate Deputy Minister for ESDC and by the Office of Public Service Accessibility at the Treasury Board Secretariat. We look forward to continuing our positive working relationship with these offices as we continue to push for the most inclusive and accessible employment opportunities possible.

Health

Overview

While we at NEADS favour the social model of disability (where disability is an identity and relationship to society) over the medical model (where emphasis is placed on patients, conditions, and impairments), we completely understand the importance of high quality, affordable, accessible, and appropriate health care in promoting the best quality of life possible for many disabled people. 

Despite the importance of quality health care for disabled and neurodivergent people, disability is frequently excluded from mainstream healthcare programming considerations while mental illness is frequently isolated from disability programs. To address these dual issues, we offer reimbursements for mental health-related costs such as therapy bills through our Financial Assistance Program and adopt a social model of disability in all our work and programs that includes mental health-related disabilities and promotes awareness and stigmatization around them.

As too many of us know, we are in the middle of a prolonged and persistent youth mental health crisis. While mental health-related disabilities represent only 7% of disabilities amongst Canadians, 8% of the total youth population has a mental-health disability – making it the leading cause of disability amongst those aged 15-24 (Statistics Canada, 2018). Due to the lack of mental health care, awareness, and resources for mental-health related disabilities, youth with mental illnesses are disproportionately out of both school and work (Statistics Canada, 2018), creating long-term negative impacts on their educational attainment, employment opportunities, and overall wellbeing.

Investments

In the context of the ongoing youth mental health crisis, we are greatly encouraged by the proposed $500 million over five years for the creation of a new Youth Mental Health Fund, which will partner with community health organizations to deliver mental health care to youth. Noting the compounding effects of marginalization and its impact on mental health outcomes, we are also thrilled to see $630.2 million proposed to support Indigenous peoples’ access to mental health services, and an additional $4 million to the Public Health Agency of Canada to continue supporting the Mental Health of Black Canadians Fund.

We are also thrilled to see the first phase of the National Pharmacare Plan mentioned in Budget 2024, but understand that the Bill C-64: The Pharmacare Act will follow its own legislative process and thus could not be included in Budget 2024. Despite this, we would like to celebrate the emphasis on contraception and diabetes medication, reinforcing the bodily autonomy and reproductive rights of women and beginning to acknowledge the disproportionate out-of-pocket medical costs faced by those with chronic illnesses.

Actions

Like many other disability rights organizations, we are disappointed that the Canadian Dental Care Plan will continue to only apply to disabled people with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate. As noted in Budget 2024 itself, the Disability Tax Credit has a medical-based, burdensome, and complicated administrative process that clearly presents a barrier to disabled people who greatly stand to benefit from both the Credit and dental care. 

While we are thrilled with the proposal of a Sectoral Table on the Care Economy, and future consultations on the development of a National Caregiving Strategy, we are concerned by the lack of disability considerations in Budget 2024. As both care givers and recipients, disabled people must be centred in these discussions, and consultation opportunities must not favour medical expertise over lived experience, as previously seen in the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (AMAD).

Finally, we eagerly await further details on the National Pharmacare Strategy and opportunities to inform the upcoming Phases. With 76% of persons with disabilities taking prescription medication at least on a weekly basis and 10% of these individuals going without medication due to cost (Statistics Canada, 2012), the inclusion and prioritization of disabled people will be essential to realizing an equitable and effective national pharmacare program.

Housing

Overview

Under a worsening housing crisis, where limited supply and high demand has driven up the prices of both rentals and homes, disabled people have been disproportionately impacted due to their lower average earnings and even more limited supply of accessible housing. On top of this, ongoing discussions around the housing crisis continue to marginalize the disability community and exclude accessibility considerations. 

While housing is not a key area under NEADS’ mandate, we understand how crucial affordable rentals are – particularly for disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students who must find short-term housing in a market that routinely discriminates against them. 

With 32.5% of persons with disabilities renting compared to 26.4% of the total population, and 9.9% of persons with disabilities living in dwellings needing major repairs compared to 6.4% of the total population (Statistics Canada, 2022), we know that finding affordable, accessible, safe, and sustainable rental housing is an all too common issue for many disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students and graduates.

Investments

Given disabled persons’ disproportionate representation in the rental market and the double discrimination faced by many disabled students on the basis of both age and disability, we are thrilled to see $15 million proposed over five years to create a Tenant Protection Fund to increase access to legal and informational services and funding to tenants’ rights advocacy organizations. 

We are also encouraged by the temporary removal of GST on the construction of student residences, as we understand student residences play an essential role in disabled youth’s transition to adulthood, and the suggested requirement that municipalities amend their building codes to allow high-density housing within 800 metres of post-secondary institutions, which is expected to meet intense demand in predominantly student neighbourhoods.  

Actions

As the housing crisis continues, we will remain engaged in advocacy work to ensure upcoming legislative amendments and initiatives such as amendments to the National Building Code and creation of a Renters’ Bill of Rights reflect the lived experience of disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students and recent graduates. 

While we are encouraged by the discussion of accessibility in relation to the National Building Code, we are greatly disappointed that disability-specific considerations were not meaningfully included in relation to housing in Budget 2024. With proposed amendments to the National Building Code and development of a Housing Design Catalogue, now is the time for the federal government and all other stakeholders to commit to universal design and ensure accessible housing is created before it is needed.  

Disability Income Supports

Overview

Persons with disabilities across Canada are experiencing a legislated poverty crisis, with 28% of Canadians with severe disabilities living below Canada’s official poverty line (Statistics Canada, 2018) when factoring in deeply inadequate provincial income assistance. With only 36.4% of students with disabilities able to work on top of their post-secondary education (Statistics Canada, 2015), even with federal student loans and grants, many disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students require provincial disability income supports, and the associated services connected to it. 

Investments

Budget 2024 proposes funding of $6.1 billion over 6 years to fund the long-awaited Canada Disability Benefit, with its implementation required under Bill C-22: The Canada Disability Benefit Act, which received Royal Assent and became law in June of 2023. Full-time students with disabilities would hypothetically be able to receive their regular federal post-secondary financial assistance and the Canada Disability Benefit, though impacts on provincial disability income support programs are currently unknown.

While the Canada Disability benefit is extremely disappointing, it is worth celebrating the unprecedented and historic investment of $213.5 million over five years to implement income supports for eligible persons with disabilities living on reserves and First Nations individuals’ with disabilities in the Yukon, who have historically been excluded from disability income support programs.

Actions

While the disability community has been pushing for the expedited implementation and delivery of this critical benefit, we at NEADS share in the disappointment, frustration, and anger voiced by our community in response to a deeply inadequate $200/month for recipients beginning in July 2025, who must have a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate. The inaccessibility, administrative burden, and unnecessary strain on our struggling health care system is demonstrated by the additional $243 million proposed to cover the cost of medical forms required for the DTC alone. 

While Budget 2024 promises continued consultations with persons with disabilities, it does not allow for an overall amount greater than the already proposed $6.2 billion,  implying a trade-off in income received, and persons with disabilities eligible – with so many disabled people struggling, this is unacceptable.

Annex A: Investments

Post-Secondary Education

• $50 million over two years to Employment and Social Development Canada (EDSC) to continue funding their Supports for Student Learning Program

• $5 million to fund a proposed amendment to the Income Tax Act making more expenses eligible for the Disability Supports Deduction, including service animals, alternative and assistive computer technology, and ergonomic equipment

• $100 million for ESDC to continue supporting their Apprenticeship Service and Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness Program

• $5.2 million proposed for the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in the Northwest Territories

Student Financial Assistance

• Extension of temporary increase to Canada Student Grants and Canada Student Loans, Grants will stay at $4,200 per year and Loans will stay at $300 per week  with grants and loans for disabled and part-time students, and students with dependents raised proportionately

• Modernized shelter allowances used by the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program when determining financial need, estimated to make 79,000 additional students eligible for federal financial assistance

• The elimination of credit screenings for mature students applying for Canada Student Grants and Loans for the first time, estimated to help 1,000 mature students annually

• $825 million over five years to increase the annual value of master’s and doctoral student scholarships to $27,000 and $40,000 respectively, and post-doctoral fellowships to $70,000

• Amending the Canada Education Savings Act to introduce automatic enrolment for the Canada Learning Bond for children in low-income households without RESPs

• $242.7 million over three years for First Nations students pursuing post-secondary education through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program

Youth Employment

• $207.6 million to Employment and Social Development Canada to continue delivering their Student Work Placement Program

• $150.7 million to Employment and Social Development Canada to continue delivering the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program (YESS)

• $200.5 million to Employment and Social Development Canada to continue delivering the Canada Summer Jobs program

• $60 million proposed over five years to Futurpreneur Canada to continue their work supporting over 17,700 youth entrepreneurs

• $200 million proposed for the continued support of the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative

Health 

• $500 million over five years for the creation of a new Youth Mental Health Fund,

• $630.2 million to support Indigenous peoples’ access to mental health services

• $4 million to the Public Health Agency of Canada to continue supporting the Mental Health of Black Canadians Fund

Housing

• $15 million proposed over five years to create a Tenant Protection Fund to increase access to legal and informational services and funding to tenants’ rights advocacy organizations. 

• Temporary removal of GST on the construction of student residences

• Requirement for municipalities to amend their building codes to allow high-density housing within 800 metres of post-secondary institutions to benefit from the federal government’s upcoming permanent public transit fund

Income Support

• $6.1 billion over 6 years to fund the Canada Disability Benefit,

• $213.5 million over five years to implement income supports for eligible persons with disabilities living on reserves and First Nations individuals’ with disabilities in the Yukon

Annex B: Concerns

• Under the 28% decrease to international students study visas, we are greatly concerned that disabled and neurodivergent international students will be disproportionately harmed, and potentially discriminated against, as competition becomes more intense.

• While we are highly encouraged by Budget 2024’s proposal to increase and expand financial aid to post-secondary students with disabilities, we are aware that these measures currently do not stand to benefit disabled and neurodivergent students without medical documentation.

• There is a clear need for more flexible working hours, expanded funding for workplace accommodations, and a streamlined accommodations process in relation to youth employment opportunities. 

• As both care givers and recipients, disabled people must be centred in discussions around the proposed Sectoral Table on the Care Economy and the development of a National Caregiving Strategy.

• Like many other disability rights organizations, we are disappointed that the Canadian Dental Care Plan will continue to only apply to disabled people with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate. As noted in Budget 2024 itself, the Disability Tax Credit has a medical-based, burdensome, and complicated administrative process that clearly presents a barrier to disabled people who greatly stand to benefit from both the Credit and dental care. 

• With 76% of persons with disabilities taking prescription medication at least on a weekly basis and 10% of these individuals going without medication due to cost (Statistics Canada, 2012), the inclusion and prioritization of disabled people will be essential to realizing an equitable and effective national pharmacare program.

• We are greatly disappointed that disability-specific considerations were not meaningfully included in relation to housing in Budget 2024, despite disabled persons’ overrepresentation in the rental market and disproportionate experiences with inadequate housing. 

• In addition to the continued and apparently acceptable levels of legislative poverty set forth in the proposed Canada Disability Benefit, the inaccessibility, administrative burden, and unnecessary strain of the Disability Tax Credit on our struggling health care system is demonstrated by the additional $243 million proposed to cover the cost of medical forms required for application alone – the government must not enact, maintain, or perpetuate barriers.

Annex C: Action Items

• We invite Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada to publish a public statement detailing what steps his department will take to ensure disabled international students are not adversely harmed by these visa cuts

• From our overwhelmingly positive and constructive relationships with government programs such as Canada Student Financial Assistance Program, we are confident the government is aware of the barriers remaining to accessing financial aid and committed to working together to finding practical and sustainable new mechanisms for disability certification

• We look forward to continuing our positive working relationship with these offices as we continue to push for the most inclusive and accessible employment opportunities possible

• Watching for Pharmacare Strategy Phase 2

• Keeping an eye on the sectoral table on care economy and consultations on development of national caregiving strategy

• As the housing crisis continues, we will remain engaged in advocacy work to ensure upcoming legislative amendments and initiatives such as amendments to the National Building Code and creation of a Renters’ Bill of Rights reflect the lived experience of disabled and neurodivergent post-secondary students and recent graduates. 

• Work with our partners who already use non-DTC forms to try and scale up across government

• We eagerly await further details on the National Pharmacare Strategy and opportunities to inform the upcoming Phases. With 76% of persons with disabilities taking prescription medication at least on a weekly basis and 10% of these individuals going without medication due to cost (Statistics Canada, 2012), the inclusion and prioritization of disabled people will be essential to realizing an equitable and effective national pharmacare program

• With proposed amendments to the National Building Code and development of a Housing Design Catalogue, now is the time for the federal government and all other stakeholders to commit to universal design and ensure accessible housing is created before it is needed

Carly Fox (she/her/elle), carly.fox@neads.ca, NEADS Communications and Partnerships Director |Directrice des communications et des partenariats de NEADS

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)
Rm. 514 Unicentre, Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6

NEADS Social Media

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn

NEADS Websites

Main Site | Scholarships | Employment | Rights | Mailing List Sign-Up