What Laws Protect Individuals with Disabilities in Canada?

Disabilities in Canada

Over 8 million Canadians experience disabilities since 2022, which may not always be apparent and can range from temporary to long-term. Disability can affect a person’s social integration and overall well-being, but supportive programmes and policies can enhance societal inclusion and improve quality of life.

Disability laws ensure that people with disabilities are treated fairly and equally. The area is extensive and specialized; however, experienced disability lawyers can help those with issues effectively resolve their cases. 

What Is a Disability?

Typically, people view disability as being in a wheelchair or having missing limbs, but the disability experience is more intricate. A disability may be physical, mental, intellectual, sensory or developmental.

A disability can be either short-term, resulting from a temporary incident like an injury or illness that disrupts employment. On the other hand, a permanent disability, stemming from an injury or illness that impairs the individual’s ability to perform their employment. As a very general rule of thumb, a disability either short or long-term impedes your functional capacity by at least 60% of your job’s duties.  

Laws That Protect Individuals With Disabilities

In general, several laws protect people in Canada. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Employment Equity Act generally govern the treatment of disabled people. The specific laws protecting disabled Canadians are vast and complex. Consulting an experienced disability lawyer can help individuals protect their rights and livelihood. 

Applying for Disability Insurance Benefits 

If you are like most people starting a new job, you receive a giant book of benefits along with other employment documents. Hidden away deep in those benefits booklets is the group disability insurance program with confusing language about how it operates. 

In simple terms, short-term or long-term disability benefits can provide you and your family with income while you are unable to work. To obtain these benefits, you must be insured under an applicable insurance policy through your employer’s group plan or a private policy. Disabled individuals without insurance may be eligible for a government income support programme. 

You should apply for a benefit as soon as you’ve developed an injury or illness that keeps you from working for a substantial period, usually after 1 – 2 weeks off prolonged disability. Typically, an application involves submitting a form with proof of your disability. At this point, it is imperative that you have a good connection with your general or specific physician because they will be providing a lot of their reports to the disability insurance company. For more information, a knowledgeable disability lawyer can answer questions specific to your case.

As noted above, when filing disability claims workers must evidence they are functionally disabled by providing medical records. Failure or refusal to provide sufficient evidence can result in applications being denied (which may be denied even if all evidence is provided). Other reasons for denial may include that you are not deemed totally disabled for your job, late filing, failing to medicate/rehabilitate, etc. Applicants who feel that the denial was unjustified can, with a disability lawyer’s assistance, appeal the decision. 

Transitioning From Short-Term to Long-Term Disability

Some illnesses or injuries may extend beyond the six-month or two-year period for short-term benefits, necessitating the need for long-term disability income replacement. The transition can be difficult as policies for long-term benefits are typically more restrictive and more medical evidence is required. 

Many long-term policies are limited in the types of conditions covered and the duration of payments (e.g. pre-exiting conditions incurred prior to obtaining employment benefits). As long-term benefits attract a longer payment duration by the provider, transitioning is challenging to prove without legal assistance. If you need to transition from a short-term to a long-term policy, an experienced disability lawyer can help you navigate the process.

Have Your Claim for Disability Benefits Been Denied?

If your claim for disability benefits has been denied, contact us at Lecker & Associates. Our experienced employment and disability lawyers can guide and represent you should you proceed to appeal. 

Please contact our office at 416 223 5391 or fill out our online form which is secure and confidential.
You will be given a free assessment and if it is appropriate and beneficial to you, our staff will arrange for a consultation with one of our staff of Disability  Lawyers at no charge to you.