Storm clouds pass by the Peace tower and Parliament hill Tuesday August 18, 2020 in Ottawa. The parliamentary budget office says a one-time payment this fall to people with disabilities will cost the federal treasury $792 million. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Pandemic-related disability support to cost feds $792 million, PBO says

Budget office warns there may be potential fiscal impacts in subsequent years

The parliamentary budget office says a one-time payment to people with disabilities this fall will cost the federal treasury $792 million.

The majority of that amount will go to about 1.67 million people in payments of up to $600, which the Liberals say are aimed at offsetting any extra costs linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The total cost should hit federal books this year, but the budget office warns there may be potential fiscal impacts in subsequent years.

The first legislative push to provide the special payments failed in June when the minority Liberal government couldn’t gain opposition support for a wider spending bill.

A few weeks later, a compromise was struck whereby the Liberals expanded eligibility for the payments to also include veterans.

Payments will max out at $600, drop to $300 for any recipients who receive old age security benefits, and fall to $100 for low-income seniors who receive OAS and the guaranteed income supplement.

The report from the budget watchdog Wednesday notes its estimate on the number of people eligible to receive the payments could be thrown off a bit by a separate part of the federal response to the pandemic.

That is because one of the requirements for payments is to be eligible for the disability tax credit, or having applied for the credit by Sept. 25.

The PBO report says the government’s extension for filing personal income tax returns could reduce the rate at which people recertify for the credit, but calls it a minor source of uncertainty.

The budget office has been independently tracking federal spending through the pandemic to provide its own analysis over the accuracy of government projections.

It updated one of those projections this week in regarding to a special paid leave for federal employees, known as pay code 699.

ALSO READ: Feds roll out $2 billion to fund return-to-school safety amid pandemic

The policy gives federal workers paid time off for emergencies such as having to quarantine with COVID-19 or to care for children or other dependants, and doesn’t require them to use up vacation or sick days first.

Adding in data from June, the budget office estimates that paid leave has cost the government $828 million since March, inclusive of pension and other benefits. That works out to an average of $3,430 per worker who accessed the leave over that time.

The figures also include estimates for departments that haven’t provided data to the budget office.

The report says the number of hours claimed under the policy is “almost certainly an underestimation of the loss of work hours due to the pandemic.”

Use of the policy has dropped from a peak of 72,700 federal workers in April to just over 43,300 in June, the PBO says. The Canada Revenue Agency continues to have the largest share of workers using the leave.

“The Canada Revenue Agency was able to continue many of its core operations despite claiming by far the most hours of 699 leave. This is due to a strong culture of monitoring time spent on specific activities,” the budget office wrote on its website.

“It is therefore highly likely that other federal organizations not completing core operating functions like meeting legislated timelines for access-to-information requests are severely under-reporting the extent of hours of work lost due to the pandemic.”

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusDisability

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Air quality index raised to a ‘4’ in Kitimat

Wildfire smoke from the U.S. has been making its way north, affecting air quality

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Northwest firefighters headed to Oregon to battle wildfires

Over 200 B.C. firefighting personnel will assist in the U.S.

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Nicole Halbauer seeks B.C. NDP nomination for Skeena riding

Halbauer is the current Chair of the Board of Directors at Coast Mountain College

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

VIDEO: Tickets now available for the Second Annual Northern View Tyee Fishing Derby in Prince Rupert

Four great locations in Prince Rupert and Port Edward to buy your tickets

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Most Read