OTTAWA, March 30, 2015 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development, delivered opening remarks at the Canadian Autism Leadership Summit. This event, organized by the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance, brings together key stakeholders from across the country to discuss the needs of Canadians living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), current autism research and services.
Emphasizing the Harper Government's commitment to supporting Canadian families, Minister Bergen highlighted measures implemented to help Canadians with disabilities, specifically those with ASD, get vocational training and access to employment opportunities.
Through Economic Action Plan 2014, the Government is providing $15 million over three years to the Canadian Association for Community Living for its Ready, Willing & Able initiative that helps employers hire and support youth and working-age adults with developmental disabilities, including people with ASD. The Government is also providing $11.4 million over four years to the Sinneave Family Foundation and Autism Speaks Canada to expand vocational training programs for people with ASD. Once fully implemented, it is expected that these initiatives will benefit over 2,400 Canadians across the country.
- April 2 marks World Autism Awareness Day.
- In recent years, the Harper Government has taken concrete action to support programs for people with disabilities:
- With an investment of $40 million a year, the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities (OF) has helped almost 40,000 Canadians with disabilities prepare for, obtain and maintain employment or self‑employment.
- Since 2008, Canadians have registered close to 100,000 Registered Disability Savings Plans and have benefitted from over $1 billion in bonds and grants deposited by the federal government.
- With an investment of $222 million per year in the provinces and territories, Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities are the single largest federal government investment in helping Canadians with disabilities get jobs.
"Autism Spectrum Disorders affect families and individuals in very different ways. We've made progress when it comes to understanding autism. As a Government, we're committed to ensuring this progress continues. That's why we've made substantial investments into research and into programming to ensure that Canadians of all abilities are able to participate in and contribute to their communities. We want all Canadians to have the opportunity to reach their full potential."
– The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development
"Our objective is to begin a national conversation to better support individuals and families living with ASD in Canada. The Summit will review the recent National Needs Assessment Survey and provide leaders with a better understanding of ASD surveillance across the country. We are pleased that Minister Bergen will be part of this important discussion."
– Cynthia Carroll, Chair, Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance
Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities (OF)
The OF assists Canadians with disabilities to prepare for, obtain and keep employment, or become self‑employed, to help them participate fully in the workforce and increase their independence.
Economic Action Plan 2013 announced a $10-million increase in funding for the Opportunities Fund, to $40 million annually, starting in 2015–16. Recently announced reforms will place a greater emphasis on hands-on experience, including work experience for more youth with disabilities, and ensure employers and community organizations are involved in the design and delivery of projects.
To further help Canadians with disabilities in the workforce, the Government has:
- extended the Enabling Accessibility Fund on an ongoing basis at $15 million per year to improve accessibility in facilities across Canada, including workplaces; and
- provided funding of $7 million per year for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, some of which will support research related to the labour market participation of people with disabilities.
Other measures to connect Canadians with available jobs and equip them with the skills and training they need include the Canada Job Grant which is creating opportunities for apprentices and providing support to under‑represented groups, including people with disabilities, Aboriginal people, newcomers and youth.
Ready Willing & Able
The Ready, Willing & Able initiative, led by the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), engages employers to hire and support youth and working-age adults with developmental disabilities, including Canadians with intellectual disabilities and Canadians with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Economic Action Plan 2014 invested $15 million over three years to expand the Ready, Willing & Able initiative to help support up to 1,200 new jobs for Canadians with developmental disabilities. With additional funding, CACL can expand existing activities to 20 community-based locations across Canada and host 40 employer forums.
The CommunityWorks initiative is a vocational training program for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Economic Action Plan 2014 invested $11.4 million over four years to support the Sinneave Family Foundation and Autism Speaks Canada as they move to expand this vocational training program to centres across Canada to help create employment opportunities for individuals with ASD. The Sinneave Family Foundation estimates that, once fully implemented, approximately 1,200 youth with ASD will benefit each year.
Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)
The RDSP is a long-term savings plan to help Canadians with disabilities and their families save for the future. With written permission from the person who manages the RDSP, anyone may contribute any amount to the RDSP each year, up to the lifetime contribution limit of $200,000.
The person with a disability for whom the RDSP is opened (the beneficiary) may also be eligible for grants and bonds to help with long-term savings.
The Canada Disability Savings Bond is money the Government deposits into the RDSPs of modest-income Canadians. Beneficiaries who qualify for the Bond can receive up to $1,000 a year, depending on their family income. There is a limit of $20,000 over the beneficiary's lifetime. Bonds are paid into the RDSP until the end of the calendar year in which the beneficiary turns 49 years of age. Beneficiaries are eligible for the Bond even if no contributions are made to the RDSP.
The Canada Disability Savings Grant is money the Government deposits into RDSPs to help people with disabilities save. The Government provides grants of up to 300 percent of contributions, depending on the amount contributed and the beneficiary's family income. The maximum grant is $3,500 each year, with a limit of $70,000 over the beneficiary's lifetime. Grants are paid on contributions made to the RDSP until the end of the calendar year in which the beneficiary turns 49 years of age.
Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities (LMAPDs)
LMAPDs are the single largest federal government investment in helping Canadians with disabilities get jobs. Currently, there are about 300,000 interventions each year through over 100 programs, which are designed and delivered by provinces and territories. Examples of supported programs could include employment counselling, career planning, pre-employment preparation, skills training, wage subsidies, technical aids and other supports.
Economic Action Plan 2014 reaffirmed the Government's commitment to introduce a new generation of LMAPDs with an investment of $222 million per year beginning in 2014–15. The reformed Agreements are designed to better meet the employment needs of Canadian businesses and improve the employment prospects for people with disabilities.
Universal Child Care Benefit
The proposed enhancements to the Universal Child Care Benefit would provide almost $2,000 per year for each child under 6 and $720 per year for each child aged 6 through 17. The new benefit amounts would be retroactive to January 1, 2015, and monthly payments to recipients would begin in July 2015.
Additional tax measures in support of families include:
- The Family Tax Cut: a non-refundable credit of up to $2,000 for couples with children under the age of 18, which would take effect starting with the 2014 tax year.
- The Children's Fitness Tax Credit: a tax credit that may be claimed by families whose children participated in an eligible program of physical activity. Families may be able to claim up to $1,000 per child for the cost of the program.
- The Child Care Expenses Deduction: the maximum dollar limits that can be claimed will increase by $1,000 starting in the 2015 tax year—from $7,000 to $8,000 for children under 7; from $4,000 to $5,000 for children aged 7 through 16; and from $10,000 to $11,000 for children who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.
SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada
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