Most people's income is directly tied to their health. Poor health often means an inadequate income. Poverty can lead to increased risk of disease and related health problems.
For people living with HIV/AIDS, discrimination in employment can make it difficult or impossible for many of them to stay at work when they are ill, or to return to work when their health improves. As a result, they often rely on income security programs to meet their basic needs for food, housing, and medication. Examples include:
- Employment Insurance sickness benefits;
- Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan disability benefit;
- Private long-term disability insurance; and
- Provincial and territorial social assistance programs.
Some of the barriers to income security faced by people living with HIV/AIDS are inherent in these benefit programs. But many result from the existence of multiple programs to which people living with HIV/AIDS must apply, and the lack of coordination among those programs.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments and the private insurance industry need to rethink and restructure disability income and related benefit programs. Income support programs must meet the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and other disabling illnesses in a coordinated and comprehensive way.
We bring a legal and policy focus to this issue by analyzing the laws and policies that underpin income security programs and making recommendations for reform. We also work with other HIV/AIDS and disability organizations to address the income security needs of people living with episodic disabilities.