OTTAWA, Dec. 3, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development, marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by reaffirming the Government of Canada's commitment to ensuring that all Canadians have the chance to contribute to our communities and be included in all aspects of society, including our workforce.
In recent years, the Government of Canada has taken concrete action to support programs for people with disabilities. Most recently, Minister Bergen announced on December 1, 2014, reforms to the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities and the launch of a Call for Proposals for national projects under the new guidelines that will accept submissions until January 30, 2015.
Steps have also been taken to make it easier for people with disabilities to save for the future. Under the strong leadership of the late Jim Flaherty, the Government of Canada introduced the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), the first of its kind in the world.
- The Opportunities Fund has helped over 39,600 people with disabilities across Canada to prepare for, obtain and maintain employment or self-employment.
- So far, Canadians have registered close to 100,000 RDSPs 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.
- Since 2007, the Government of Canada has funded over 1,400 projects under the Enabling Accessibility Fund, helping thousands of Canadians gain better access to the facilities, programs and services offered in their workplaces and communities.
- Economic Action Plan 2014 announced a $15 million investment to expand the Ready, Willing & Able initiative.
- Economic Action Plan 2014 announced $11 million for the CommunityWorks initiative, led by the Sinneave Family Foundation, to support the expansion of vocational training programs for Canadians with autism.
"All Canadians should be treated with dignity and equality, and this starts with inclusion. Our Government has made it a priority to ensure that people of all abilities are included in all aspects of public life, including our workforce. We've taken unprecedented action in support of programs for people with disabilities."– The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development
Government of Canada Programs for Persons with Disabilities
Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities (OF)
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.
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 program to provide more demand-driven training solutions and better respond to labour market needs.
The reforms will provide work experience to 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.
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. 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/index.shtml
Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)
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.
Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities (LMAPDs)
Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities (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 2014–2015. The reformed Agreements are designed to better meet the employment needs of Canadian businesses and improve the employment prospects for people with disabilities.
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 people with intellectual disabilities and people 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 people with developmental disabilities.
Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF)
The Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) 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 1,400 projects across the country and has improved accessibility for thousands of Canadians.
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. This network of vocational training programs in centres across Canada will help to create employment opportunities for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Sinneave Family Foundation estimates that once fully implemented, CommunityWorks will benefit approximately 1,200 youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders each year.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed on December 3 every year, aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of people with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of the gains to be made from the integration of people with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
SOURCE: Employment and Social Development Canada
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