Data collected over the last decade suggests that differing eligibility requirements for provincial disability benefits programs affected caseloads in the provinces that offer them, according to a new report by the University of Calgary.
It found that as incidences of disability were similar in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan, variations in caseloads per 1,000 adults must therefore reflect differences in how the programs define what types of disabilities are eligible to receive benefits, the severity of disability required to receive benefits and the strictness with which eligibility requirements are enforced.
The report said since 2009, caseloads have grown at the slowest pace in Alberta and Saskatchewan, suggesting that the two provinces’ respective disability programs were significantly more restrictive in terms of eligibility and enforcement than those in BC and Ontario. However, the report said little change in Ontario cases per 1,000 adults since 2018 suggested a recent tightening of eligibility requirements.
Of the four provinces, Alberta was the first to introduce its disability benefits program, followed by Ontario in 1998, B.C. in 2002 and Saskatchewan in 2009. The programs are geared toward individuals dealing with disabilities that severely limit their ability to maintain full-time employment.