During these trying times it is increasingly important that youth remain engaged in their communities, as changes to routine and isolation can have a negative impact on their mental and physical well-being. Canada’s youth have an important role in creating meaningful change in their communities, and can gain valuable experience through community engagement.
Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, launched a call for expressions of interest under the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) youth innovation component, a Government of Canada grants and contributions program. This EAF component engages and challenges youth to volunteer and collaborate with local community-based organizations, and apply for funding of up to $10,000 for accessibility projects.
This initiative supports youth between 15 and 30 years of age to promote awareness of accessibility needs in their communities, gain valuable experience, including how to apply for government funding, further develop their presentation skills and build their sense of social responsibility through a volunteer experience that positively impacts the lives of persons with disabilities in their communities. Youth must submit their expressions of interest by October 30, 2020.
In 2019, there were 119 youth-led projects funded across Canada through a call for expressions of interest, representing a total investment of $1 million. These youth-driven projects helped increase accessibility for persons with disabilities in their communities and workplaces. Some of the projects funded include an accessible chairlift for a community pool, purchasing a digital platform that helps train persons with disabilities, an accessible park structure, adaptive software, accessible washrooms and automatic doors.
Across Canada, we are changing the way we interact with those around us to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Youth, and all Canadians, should continue to consult their local or regional public health authorities for the latest guidelines to protect them during the process.
By making workplaces and community spaces more accessible, the Government of Canada is breaking down barriers to inclusion and access. All Canadians deserve the same opportunities for success.
“This program is an example of the fantastic youth accessibility leaders from across Canada that are working towards improving inclusion and access in our society. Our government is committed to providing youth with hands-on experience in communities, relationship building with partners and with the federal grants and contributions system. We know that keeping youth engaged at this time is critical. Our youth are creative, adaptive, comfortable with technology and resourceful-and those are exactly the skills that we need to leverage now, more than ever.”
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
May 31 to 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.
Since the creation of the Enabling Accessibility Fund (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.
The EAF has an annual base budget of $15 million ($13.65 million in grants and 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.
The 2017 EAF youth innovation pilot was the first phase of the new youth innovation component. As a result of the pilot, youth identified as “youth accessibility leaders” volunteered to create greater awareness about the EAF program across Canadian communities, which led to an increase in accessibility and safety in community facilities for persons with disabilities.
The Government of Canada added the youth innovation component as part of the EAF program in 2018.