Having outlined the theoretical framework and principles, we take that framework and use it to further interpret the principles to derive outcome measures.  In this way, the theoretical framework begins the process by suggesting principles and then operates to contextualize and interpret the principles.  For the purposes of this paper, we considered this analysis within the context of eligibility criteria for income support programs.  In so doing, we have identified a number of outcome measures. A discussion of each of the principles, along with the corresponding outcome measures follows.


A.    Respect for the Dignity and Worth of Persons with Disabilities

In R. v Kapp, McLachlin C.J.C. and Abella J. note:

There can be no doubt that human dignity is an essential value underlying the
s. 15 equality guarantee. In fact, the protection of all of the rights guaranteed by the Charter has as its lodestar the promotion of human dignity.[22]  

In Eldridge v. British Columbia (Attorney General), La Forest J. recognizes that s.15 (1) of the Charter “expresses a commitment — deeply ingrained in our social, political and legal culture — to the equal worth and human dignity of all persons.”[23]  While dignity is often stated as a key aspect of disability laws and policies, it is a difficult quality to understand in practice.  How does a disability-related support program incorporate dignity?  In Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia,[24] McIntyre J. states that Charter, s.15(1)  “entails the promotion of a society in which all are secure in the knowledge that they are recognized at law as human beings equally deserving of concern, respect and consideration.”  McIntyre J.’s description, although not speaking directly of dignity, incorporates that idea within the context of equality and inclusion.  Indeed, the principles often inform one another and their co-existence provides additional considerations for analysis. 

When considering future disability policy in Canada, Michael Prince notes that disability-related supports are a fundamental mechanism for ensuring that persons with disabilities enjoy the same rights and freedoms as others:

Disability supports is an issue of employment – indeed, that has been the prime focus of much programming of late. Disability supports is also an issue of mobility and human rights; of independent living, learning and community participation; of personal and social development; of supporting families and caregivers; and, in a definitive way, an issue of inclusion, citizenship and dignity.[25]

Seen in this light, accessible, adequate and effective disability-related supports are directly related to dignity:

A critical need exists for improved and enhanced supports and services. Today, services and supports are fragmented, often unavailable or unaffordable, not portable across life transitions or place, and all too often disempowering or stigmatizing to those seeking a modicum of assistance to live in dignity and to be active citizens.[26]

Since disability-related support programs play an essential role in the lives of persons with disabilities, impacting their ability to participate on equal terms with others in the community, the principle of dignity is a concept that must underlie the development of those programs.  In addition, dignity impacts how programs are administered; how individuals gain access to the programs; and how people maintain services and benefits over time. 

In general, the provision of income support in Canada has shifted over a number of decades. This shift has been consistent with changes occurring in the broader international context and has been influenced by complex narratives of economic structuring, understanding of disability and frameworks of social responsibility to those who are disadvantaged.[27] The theme of fiscal restraint has driven social assistance policy for more than thirty years and choices to narrow eligibility criteria and reduce benefits have disproportionately impacted persons with disabilities as they are more likely to require low-income programs than others.[28]  Prince argues that national disability policy has begun to embrace the recognition of persons with disabilities as citizens rather than charity recipients, in large part due to Charter jurisprudence and international laws including the CRPD.[29]  While disability policy has been evolving to recognize the inherent citizenship of persons with disabilities and the socially constructed nature of exclusion, governments have simultaneously taken steps to reduce their own financial responsibility for low-income supports.[30]

If we view persons with disabilities as full citizens, with entitlement to the rights and responsibilities of citizens, as reflected by the above jurisprudence, national policy and the CRPD, disability-related income supports must reflect that approach rather than adopting a charity perspective and must acknowledge dignity as a core value.


Outcome Measures:

As such, respect for the dignity and worth of persons with disabilities lead to the following outcome measures: 

·      Income Allowances that Promote Acceptable Living Standards

·      Asset Allowances that Promote Acceptable Living Standards

·      Accessible and Respectful Administrative Processes for Eligibility Determination


B.    Autonomy and Independence

Autonomy and independence are about the freedom of an individual to be in charge of his or her own life. Autonomy focuses on the opportunity to choose for oneself while independence refers to doing for oneself, with adequate support where required.

Eligibility criteria for disability-related income support programs must be designed and implemented in a manner that gives persons with disabilities the option to choose and do for themselves.  For example, the way in which eligibility criteria impact relationship dynamics must considered. In Falkiner v Ontario, the Ontario Court of Appeal found that single mothers receiving social assistance and living with men who were not the biological fathers of their children but with whom they had some arrangements for sharing household expenses, were not required to rely on these men for support. Social assistance payments could not be reduced or eliminated simply because these relationships existed. The Court found:

Beyond purely financial concerns, more fundamental dignity interests of the [applicants] have been affected. Being reclassified as a spouse forces the [applicants] and other single mothers in similar circumstances to give up either their financial independence or their relationship … Forcing them to become financially dependent on men with whom they have, at best, try-on relationships strikes at the core of their human dignity.[31]


When considering eligibility for disability-related income support programs, the principles of autonomy and independence require that eligibility criteria take into consideration the importance of persons with disabilities determining and securing their own financial independence.  How the program defines the benefit unit has a considerable impact on whether individuals meet the financial eligibility criteria for such programs.  Rules restricting the acquisition of assets and earning of income often limit one’s eligibility for disability-related income supports.  The principles of autonomy and independence must be considered when developing and enforcing such rules.

For example, a review of provincial disability-related income support programs across Canada demonstrates that most programs exempt inheritances if the program recipients are restricted from making decisions regarding the inherited proceeds.  A relationship of dependency between a trustee and the recipient as beneficiary of a trust is created to ensure that the inherited proceeds do not make the recipient ineligible for benefits under the program.  As a result, the decision-making rights of recipients are compromised and the possibility of future financial independence is also diminished. .

Outcome Measures:

As such, the principles of autonomy and independence lead to the following outcome measures: 

·         Definition of the Benefit Unit that Empowers the Individual

·          Income Allowances that Promote Acceptable Living Standards

·         Asset Allowances that Promote Acceptable Living Standards



C.    Inclusion and Participation

Inclusion and participation mean that society is organized – both in its public and private dimensions – to enable all people to engage fully. Full inclusion requires that persons with disabilities be recognized and valued as equal participants whose needs are considered essential to society and not “special”.  Prince notes that “people with disabilities and their families experience undue hardship and are restricted from full and active participation in economic, educational and social life”[32] because of a failure to develop programs and systems that promote inclusion:

Canadians with disabilities have long been disadvantaged, marginalized and stigmatized. While some important advances have occurred over the last 20 years – including some program reforms recently introduced at both the federal and provincial/territorial levels – there also have been many setbacks and erosions in supports, as well as continued challenges in everyday living and barriers to participation in schools, work, community activities, public services and facilities. Research and experience show that both generic and disability specific community services are inadequate in meeting existing needs.[33]

The Supreme Court described the impact of policies and laws that exclude in Eaton v.