As Manitoba cuts CPP increases, disability support suffers

Inflation boosts CPP benefit, offset by reduced disability payments

As Manitoba cuts CPP increases, disability support suffers

In Manitoba, people with disabilities face financial challenges due to provincial policies that offset federal disability payment increases with reductions in provincial benefits.

In a CBC article, 57-year-old Manitoba resident Calvin Yarush expressed frustration over the province's policy that claws back Canada Pension Plan (CPP) increases from provincial disability support.

Despite receiving a modest $35 cost of living increase in his CPP disability benefit, Yarush found this amount deducted from his provincial support.

Yarush, a former university instructor who has been on disability for about a decade, resides in a small town outside of Dauphin, western Manitoba. He highlighted the challenges faced by those living with disabilities, especially in areas with limited access to resources like food banks or Salvation Army supports. "I struggle, like everybody who is on disability," he said, emphasizing the difficulties exacerbated by inflation.

The CPP benefit, adjusted annually based on inflation, saw an increase of 4.4 percent this year, calculated using the consumer price index. For Yarush, this meant an additional $35 monthly, which he hoped would ease his financial strain, aiding in expenses like gas and clothing. However, this increase was offset by a corresponding decrease in his provincial disability payments.

In Manitoba, when calculating assistance benefits, other incomes, including the CPP disability benefit, are factored in. This practice leads to a decrease in provincial disability payments whenever there is a federal benefit increase. Although some income sources are exempt from this calculation under provincial legislation, CPP cost of living increases are not.

Melissa Graham, the executive director of the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities, expressed frustration over this policy. She stressed that individuals on income support rely heavily on every dollar they receive, with little to nothing going into savings.

The federal Employment and Social Development department noted that the integration of CPP benefits with provincial programs is determined by the provinces. The practice of clawbacks, according to a federal spokesperson, is a long-established one by provincial benefit distributors.

In response, a provincial spokesperson mentioned that Manitoba's disability benefits are indexed to inflation and recipients will see an increase in their payments in July. They also noted that about 10 precent of those on provincial disability benefits receive CPP benefits.

Yarush argues for a change, suggesting that the moral action for the government would be to stop the clawback of CPP increases. He asserts that as inflation rises, the income for those living with disabilities should proportionately increase. "I think it's only fair," he concludes, calling for a policy revision that would add CPP cost of living increases to the list of exemptions.