In Canada, everyone deserves equal opportunities to fully participate in society. Many persons with disabilities continue to face barriers to inclusion, and these barriers have only been exacerbated by COVID-19. The Government of Canada recognizes the disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on persons with disabilities and continues to build on its efforts to create a more inclusive country for all.
That is why the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, today announced an investment of more than $15.5 million for 218 projects under the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) small projects. These projects will build communities that are more accessible to persons with disabilities, enabling them to more fully participate in day-to-day life and access important community services.
The EAF supports construction projects across the country aimed at improving the accessibility, safety and inclusion of persons with disabilities. This year, the small projects component of the EAF introduced a new simplified application process that provides more flexibility to organizations seeking funding of up to $100,000 per project.
The program funds important infrastructure such as ramps, automatic doors and accessible washrooms that persons with disabilities rely on. The EAF also supports organizations that break down barriers for persons with disabilities through programs, services and employment opportunities.
As part of today’s announcement, Minister Qualtrough also highlighted that organizations that have partnered with eligible Youth Accessibility Leaders have until Monday November 30 to submit funding applications for the Enabling Accessibility Fund for youth innovation projects. The EAF Youth Innovation Component offers youth the opportunity to have a direct impact in the lives of persons with disabilities by making their community more accessible.
“I believe in building a barrier-free, accessible and disability inclusive Canada for all. For too long, persons with disabilities have faced barriers to participation in day-to-day life, and these barriers have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. We are taking action today by funding projects that will give Canadians with disabilities a more equal opportunity to participate in their community and access important services. We will continue working with the disability community to build a more inclusive, barrier-free Canada for all.”
-Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
Since creating the Enabling Accessibility Fund, the Government of Canada has supported over 4,200 accessibility projects across the country, improving accessibility in communities and workplaces for persons with disabilities and all Canadians.
Close to $17M has been earmarked in 2020-21 to support the Small Projects component ($16M) and Youth Innovation component ($1M) of the Enabling Accessibility Fund.
This call for proposals is the first funding call launched since recent improvements were made to the program to better respond to the needs of organizations. Improvements include:
- making the application process easier,
- receiving funding decisions more rapidly, and
- providing additional guidance on the accessibility standards required for the projects.
In response to COVID-19, organizations were also granted more time to complete their projects.
The Government has also put in place a number of measures to support persons with disabilities during the COVID 19 pandemic, including:
- a comprehensive support of nearly $9 billion for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit which provided $1,250 per month in financial relief to post-secondary students, and recent post-secondary and high school graduates, with an additional $750 for students with disabilities;
- a one-time payment of up to $600 to persons with disabilities, to help with additional expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic that was provided close to 1.6 million Canadians with disabilities on October 30th, 2020;
- an investment of $350 million to charities and not-for-profit organizations to deliver essential services;
- a one-time special payment through the Goods and Services Tax and Harmonized Sales Tax credit for low- and modest-income Canadians, including persons with disabilities, and
- guidance issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada on COVID-19 and Persons with Disabilities as well as the Public Health Ethics Framework (both of which included significant contributions from the Advisory Group).
In the Speech from the Throne delivered on September 23, 2020, the Government committed to bringing forward a new disability inclusion plan that includes a new Canadian Disability Benefit, a robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities that emphasizes the economic benefits of disability inclusion, and a focus on training, employment supports and the removal of barriers.