Organizations invited to apply for funding under reformed Opportunities Fund
OTTAWA, Dec. 1, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development, addressed the Fifth Annual Forum on Inclusion in Ottawa, just days ahead of International Day of Persons with Disabilities which occurs on December 3.
Minister Bergen spoke about the fact that there are many working-age Canadians who are ready and able to work, yet they remain unemployed. Fulfilling a Budget 2013 commitment, Minister Bergen announced reforms to the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities to better connect these Canadians with jobs.
The Opportunities Fund is being strengthened in support of three key goals:
- to better support youth;
- to increase the amount of practical, hands-on work experience that comes from these projects; and
- to better target in-demand jobs.
In addition, the Minister launched a call for proposals for national projects and invited eligible organizations in all provinces and territories to submit their proposals before January 30, 2015.
Information on how to apply can be found at: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/of/national/index.shtml
Over the past years, the Government of Canada has repeatedly taken action to strengthen programs for Canadians with disabilities through the renewal of Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities, the creation and renewal of the Enabling Accessibility Fund and the introduction of the Registered Disability Savings Plan. Budget 2014 also proposes investments for the Ready, Willing & Able initiative and CommunityWorks Canada to increase the employment readiness of Canadians with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
- According to Statistics Canada, about 3.8 million Canadians (13.7 percent) reported having a disability in 2012.
- The Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities helps people prepare for, obtain and maintain employment or self-employment. Since 2006, the Opportunities Fund has helped over 39,600 Canadians.
- The Government of Canada is inviting organizations to apply for funding through the Opportunities Fund for national projects that will increase employment opportunities for Canadians with disabilities. The call for proposals, which opened on December 1, gives eligible organizations the opportunity to submit proposals until January 30, 2015.
"Our government is committed to ensuring that all Canadians who have the ability to contribute their skills and talents to our workforce have the opportunity to do so. We're fulfilling our commitment to strengthen the Opportunities Fund so Canadians with various abilities are better connected and trained for the jobs available."
– The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development
Employment and Social Development Canada – Disability
Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities
Enabling Accessibility Fund
Registered Disability Savings Plan
Ready, Willing and Able
The Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities (OF) assists Canadians with disabilities to prepare for, obtain and keep employment, or become self-employed, to help them participate fully in the economy and increase their independence. The reforms introduced today will provide work experience to more youth with disabilities, ensure employers and community organizations are involved in the design and delivery of projects and place a greater emphasis on hands-on work experience and targeted employment supports with employers.
To help more Canadians with disabilities gain the hands-on experience they need to fully participate in the job market, Economic Action Plan 2013 announced a $10 million increase in ongoing OF funding, to $40 million annually, starting in 2015–16.
Economic Action Plan 2013 also announced the Government's commitment to reform the OF to provide more demand-driven training solutions and better respond to labour market needs.
Since 2006, the program has helped over 39,600 people with disabilities across Canada.
A call for proposals for national projects was launched on December 1, 2014, and closes on January 30, 2015. Projects targeting youth with disabilities and focusing on work experience with employers will be prioritized to help increase job opportunities for Canadians with disabilities. The Applicant Guide for local/regional projects has also been revised.
For more information about how to submit proposals, please visit: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/of/national/index.shtml
The Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities 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 provinces and territories to introduce a new generation of LMAPDs with an investment of $222 million per year. The reformed Agreements are designed to better meet the employment needs of Canadian businesses and improve the employment prospects for persons with disabilities.
The Enabling Accessibility Fund is a federal Grants and Contributions program that supports capital costs of construction and renovations related to improving physical accessibility and safety for people with disabilities in Canadian communities and workplaces. Since its creation in 2007, the program has funded close to 2,000 projects across the country and has improved accessibility for thousands of Canadians.
The Registered Disability Savings Plan (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.
Since launching the RDSP in 2008, close to 100,000 plans have been opened across Canada, and the Government has contributed over $1 billion in bonds and grants into those RDSPs.
Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes to invest $15 million over three years to expand the Ready, Willing & Able initiative, through which the Canadian Association for Community Living engages employers to hire and support youth and working-age adults with developmental disabilities—including persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders. With the proposed Government support, the Association will expand existing activities to 20 community-based locations across Canada and host 40 employer forums, which will support up to 1,200 new jobs for persons with developmental disabilities.
Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes to invest $11.4 million over four years to support the Sinneave Family Foundation and Autism Speaks Canada as they move to expand CommunityWorks, a network of vocational training programs in centres across Canada that will help to create employment opportunities for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Sinneave Family Foundation estimates that once fully implemented, approximately 1,200 youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders will benefit each year.
The Policy Forum on Inclusion is an annual event hosted by the Canadian Association for Community Living and People First of Canada. The Forum explores innovative ways that people with intellectual disabilities, communities, governments, businesses and civil society organizations are working together to generate social change and bring to life the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in communities throughout Canada. The theme of this year's Forum is: Ensuring Equality in the Justice System for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities, celebrated on December 3, is an annual observance that aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
SOURCE: Employment and Social Development Canada
For further information: Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559, firstname.lastname@example.org