The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the day-to-day obstacles that persons with disabilities face. Isolation, financial insecurity and barriers to employment disproportionately impact the quality of life of persons with disabilities, and the Government of Canada acknowledges that it must continue to work with partners across the country to build a more accessible and inclusive Canada.
Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, announced the launch of a call for proposals under the newly modernized Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) – small projects component. The modernization of the program will help to better meet the needs of persons with disabilities in building more accessible communities and workplaces, and provide more flexibility to organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The call for proposals for the EAF small projects component provides funding to organizations for small-scale construction, renovation or retrofit projects that enable persons with disabilities to live and work in more inclusive and accessible communities.
This year, instead of the originally allotted 12 months to complete a project, organizations that apply for funding will now have up to 24 months to complete their projects. Additionally, projects approved for funding will now be 100% funded to a maximum of $100,000.
The application process has also been streamlined, and flat rates have been introduced to reduce the burden on applicants and expedite the process. Flat-rate costing will replace the need for applicants to provide construction quotes and detailed budget information for three of the most commonly requested projects: ramps, accessible doors and accessible washrooms. Projects that fall under the flat-rate costing will be funded on a first come, first served basis. This means projects will be assessed as soon as the proposal is submitted and organizations can receive funding faster.
The Government of Canada is also introducing funding priority for organizations that offer, or plan to offer, employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
The EAF Program will offer Webex information sessions to support organizations through the application process.
Organizations have until July 13, 2020, to apply by visiting canada.ca/accessibility-fund
“These last few months have been hard for everyone, with persons with disabilities facing additional hardships and barriers to participation. I know that persons with disabilities are going through tough times right now, and I want to send a clear message that: our government will continue to proactively identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility, and will do so in a safe and efficient way. I hope that the changes made to the Enabling Accessibility Fund will help organizations across the country, get their projects underway and continue to make our workplaces and communities more inclusive and accessible for everyone.”
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
May 31-June 6, 2020, is National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) in Canada, a time when accessibility and inclusion are promoted across communities and workplaces. It is an opportunity to highlight the contributions of Canadians with disabilities and recognize all efforts related to removing barriers and ensuring persons with disabilities participate fully in all aspects of Canadian society.
One in five Canadians aged 15 and over-or about 6.2 million persons-are reported as having a disability.
The EAF has an annual base budget of $15 million ($13.65 million in grants & contributions (Gs&Cs). Through Budget 2017, the program received an additional $70 million over 10 years in Gs&Cs to expand the activities of the EAF by supporting more small and mid-sized projects and creating a new Youth Innovation component. This increased the annual Gs&Cs budget to $20.65 million until 2027-28.
Since the creation of the EAF in 2007, the Government of Canada has funded over 4,200 projects, helping thousands of Canadians gain access to their communities’ programs, services and employment opportunities.