“The power shifted”: The Local CFC’s fight to end disability poverty
Last October, Perth–Wellington MP John Nater sat down in the dining room of The Local CFC. At that moment, something shifted.
It was a shift towards ending disability poverty in Canada.
Weeks before, The Local CFC and its social justice club EPIC led a rally to MP Nater’s Stratford, Ontario office. The group urged MP Nater to support Bill C-22, which proposes a monthly Canada Disability Benefit.
They knew what was at stake. Around half of adults with disabilities live in food-insecure households. And people with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty than people without disabilities. This new benefit would be a lifeline of support.
What happened next? MP Nater agreed to meet with community members with disabilities. But The Local CFC and EPIC declined his invitation to meet at his office. They insisted he come to the CFC instead.
Derek Barnes, The Local CFC’s Community Engagement Facilitator, recalls: “The power shifted to the community members who were sharing their stories.”
Three days later, MP Nater shared some of those stories in the House of Commons as he spoke in support of Bill C-22.
Community members watched the live parliamentary session at The Local CFC, over a shared meal. As Derek recalls, it was a powerful moment. People realized they had “a direct impact on what was happening at the House of Commons.”
On June 22, 2023, Bill C-22 was passed into law. It was a milestone toward reducing poverty and food insecurity among people with disabilities. And this milestone happened because thousands of people fought for it—like the activists at The Local CFC and EPIC.
For The Local CFC and EPIC, this win was essential but their advocacy will continue. As EPIC member Erin Jackson states: “[Social change] scares a lot of people. They have to admit, ‘Maybe I haven’t always been the greatest person to somebody who was marginalized.’ Or ‘Maybe I haven’t always admitted that I’m disabled.’”
Her advice? “Educate yourself. That is your moment to step up.”