Kaitlyn Layden is a disability rights advocate from Saint John, New Brunswick on a mission to drive awareness and policy changes to better the lives of people living with a disability — with a particular focus on her province’s Household Income Policy (HIP) for social assistance recipients. When she got engaged in 2017, Kaitlyn was looking forward to moving in with her partner Lucas. Her plans were halted when she discovered that once she’s married and cohabitates with her husband, she would lose her financial disability support under the HIP, because her fiancé is able-bodied and employed.
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Kaitlyn’s financial assistance is an important element of her independence and quality of life. Knowing that she couldn’t be the only person affected by this policy, Kaitlyn began speaking out. Throughout 2021, she contributed a disability awareness article series for NB Media Co-Op, and in July she became one of the primary organizers of Axe The HIP, a letter writing initiative that resulted in over 200 letters being sent to provincial representatives asking for the abolishment of the Household Income Policy — on top of sharing petitions, speaking at events, and appearing on CTV News. In December, she was honoured as one of Ability New Brunswick’s 65th Anniversary Commemorative Award Winners for her efforts.