Publications, opinions, and speeches

Policy brief

Gaps in benefits leaves millions without disability supports

Published on 11/12/2008

Policy in Focus, Issue 6

Summary of Canadians Need a Medium-Term Sickness/Disability Income Benefit by Michael J. Prince, published by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. The report presents three options for addressing the gaps in income protection for those working-age Canadians with recurring or cyclical illnesses.

  • 3.6 million Canadians have a physical, psychological or health condition that limits their everyday activities.
  • If the illness or disability is temporary, they can apply for Employment Insurance (EI). If they are not likely to return to work before retirement, they can apply for disability benefits through the Canada Pension Plan (CPP-D).
  • If the illness or disability is recurring, Canadians are not likely to be eligible for EI or CPP-D and must deplete their savings before being eligible for social assistance.
  • More than half of disabled Canadians don’t receive benefits from federal or provincial income programs or from private insurance.
  • Canada spends less on disability benefits than the U.S. and most other OECD countries.
  • 27% of working age adults with disabilities experience low-income, compared with 14% of the population.
  • Workers on EI cannot supplement their wages with paid employment.
  • Those who receive benefits through the CPP-D can only supplement their wages to a maximum of $4,200 annually.

Read the full issue of this quarter’s Maytree Policy in Focus.


Disability, Income security


Features research on how Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan-Disability benefits are failing people with recurrent and cyclical health conditions, and presents three new policy options.