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

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

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
13 more cases of COVID-19 tied to Big White Mountain cluster

This brings the total case count to 175, of which 32 cases are active

RCMP on scene at a home on Sylvania Cres. (Phil McLachlan /Capital News/FILE)
Two Kelowna men arrested after Rutland home invasion

Two Kelowna men, including a prolific offender, facing slew of potential charges

Nate Brown photo
Okanagan-Shuswap says goodbye sunshine, hello winter

Temperatures are forecasted to drop by mid-next week

RCMP pictured at a motor vehicle incident during snowy conditions. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media/FILE)
Vehicle found abandoned after fleeing Kelowna RCMP, avoiding spike belt

Police believed at the time vehicle was tied to alleged shooting in West Kelowna

West Kelowna RCMP are investigating reports of gunfire in the 1700-block of Ross Road. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating reports of gunfire

West Kelowna RCMP said the incident occurred on Jan. 14

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Harvest Meats is recalling a brand of Polish sausages, shown in a handout photo, due to undercooking that may make them unsafe to eat. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the recall affects customers in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario and Saskatchewan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Food Inspection Agency Mandatory Credit
Harvest Meats recalls sausages over undercooking

Customers are advised to throw away or return the product

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Real estate sales in the South Okanagan grew by more than any other part of the province in 2020. (Marissa Tiel - Black Press)
South Okanagan fastest growing real estate market in B.C.

There was over $1 billion in residential sales in 2020

The facility in Summerland has 112 long-term care beds. Interior Health funds 75 of the beds. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Six more months for temporary South Okanagan long-term care facility administrator

The temporary administrator was appointed following site visits and concerns from Interior Health

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Penticton’s 7-Eleven is closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19, the company announced Jan. 15, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton 7-Eleven closed after employee tests positive for COVID-19

The store will re-open “on or before” Jan. 23

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read