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Government of Canada invites youth leaders to help build a more accessible Canada

TORONTO, May 29, 2019 /CNW/ - In celebration of Canada's third National AccessAbility Week, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, announced several initiatives to support youth leaders in their efforts to build a more accessible Canada.

Minister Qualtrough made these announcements at the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U). While there she announced, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, that OCAD U is receiving $1.7 million in funding from the Accessible Technology Program to develop a new coding platform that will support the participation of students with complex learning needs and will share critically needed classroom resources to support educators in inclusive teaching.

The Minister also announced over $430,000 in financial support from the Youth Innovation Component of the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) to 53 organizations across Canada for youth-driven projects that will increase accessibility for persons with disabilities in their communities and workplaces. The Youth Innovation Component of the EAF empowers youth to play a leadership role in their communities by identifying barriers to accessibility and safety in community spaces and workplaces, and then partnering with local businesses and organizations to manage a project that will remove those barriers.

Two additional funding opportunities were launched by Minister Qualtrough:

  • a new call for expressions of interest under the EAF Youth Innovation Component: youth interested in participating must identify accessibility barriers in public places or workplaces, and seek out interested organizations willing to work with them to develop an accessibility project proposal. Funding of up to $10,000 is available to eligible organizations.
  • a call for proposals under the Disability component of the Social Development Partnerships Program to support capacity building and youth leadership: for projects that promote partnerships between youth-focused organizations and national disability organizations to develop the next generation of youth disability leaders, and facilitate succession planning and sustainability in the disability sector. Funding of $900,000 over three years is available for eligible projects.

In addition, a third funding opportunity to improve the financial security of persons with disabilities was launched:

  • a call for proposals under the Disability component of the Social Development Partnerships Program to address barriers to financial security of persons with disabilities: will provide $1.8 million over three years in funding to support projects aimed at identifying and testing innovative solutions to improving the financial situation of working‑age Canadians with disabilities living in or near poverty.

Minister Qualtrough also took the opportunity to highlight a Budget 2019 investment of $15 million over five years to modernize the Canada Student Loans Program and help make post-secondary education more accessible. For student borrowers with disabilities, these changes will:

  • increase the cap on the Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities from $8,000 to $20,000 per year;
  • expand eligibility for the Severe Permanent Disability Benefit, so that more student borrowers with severe permanent disabilities qualify for loan forgiveness;
  • implement interest-free and payment-free leave for a maximum of 18 months for borrowers taking temporary leave from their studies for medical or parental reasons, including mental health leave, starting in 2020–2021.

All these measures complement the proposed Accessible Canada Act, which has been adopted by the Senate and is awaiting Royal Assent. The proposed legislation is another concrete step that the Government of Canada is taking to break down barriers to accessibility. This proposed legislation will promote broad organizational and cultural change across Canada, while proactively identifying, removing and preventing barriers in a number of priority areas.


"Building a more inclusive Canada requires everyone's contribution. By giving young Canadians the tools they need to make their communities more inclusive and more accessible to persons with disabilities, we give space for innovation and creativity. The investments our government announced today reflect our collaborative approach to removing barriers so that more Canadians can enjoy their communities, find jobs and contribute to Canada's economy. I am delighted to have made these announcements at OCAD U, a university that is taking a leadership role in modernizing its resources so that students with disabilities have the tools needed to succeed. It's partnerships like this one—between OCAD U and our government—that help build a more accessible Canada, where everyone is fully included.
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility 

"Together we are building an innovation nation—one that is inclusive and works for everyone. To achieve this, our focus is squarely on our greatest asset: our people. Programs like the Accessible Technology Program, and partners like OCAD University, are setting the bar higher, sparking discussions, and leading the way with their passion for increasing accessibility and our awareness of its necessity."
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Quick Facts

  • Since 2015, the Government of Canada has supported over 2,000 accessibility projects through the Enabling Accessibility Fund. These projects have helped several thousand Canadians by improving their access to their communities' programs, services and employment opportunities.
  • Budget 2017 provided $77 million over ten years, starting in 2018‑19, to expand the activities of the EAF, allowing the program to support even more small and mid-sized projects and launch a new youth-driven innovation component, so that Canadians of all abilities have better access to their community spaces and workplaces.
  • The EAF enhancement is part of the Government of Canada's Investing in Canada infrastructure plan in which the Government is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada's rural and northern communities.
  • The Disability component of the Social Development Partnerships Program (SDPP-D) is a grant and contribution program that supports Government of Canada priorities to improve the participation and increase the social inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society as well as support the proposed Accessible Canada Act. SDPP-D provides $11 million annually to not-for-profit organizations for operating and project funding; starting 2021–2022, it will provide an additional $2.7 million annually to support the implementation of the proposed Accessible Canada Act.
  • The Accessible Technology Program invests $22.3 million over five years, starting in 2017–2018, to help fill the gap in support for the development of assistive and adaptive digital devices and technologies that can enable persons with disabilities to fully participate in the digital economy.

Associated Links

Enabling Accessibly Fund
Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability – Youth Leadership
Social Development Partnerships Program - Disability – Financial Security
Making an accessible Canada for persons with disabilities
National AccessAbility Week
Investing in Canada: Canada's Long-Term Infrastructure Plan

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List of projects approved under the youth innovation component of the Enabling Accessibility Fund 2018 Call for expressions of interest



Project funded

Association des personnes avec une déficience de l'audition

Mieux voir pour mieux entendre

Association for Community Living - Beausejour Branch Inc

Automatic door opener

Boys & Girls Club of Cornwall-SDG

Accessible tabling for youth and volunteers in our Learning Centre

Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC

Enabling accessibility at the Hillside Boys and Girls Club

British Columbia Mobility Opportunities Society

Accessibility ramp project

Canadian Deafblind Association Ontario Chapter (CDBA Ontario)

Side-by-side tandem bicycle

Chilliwack Society for Community Living

Improve accessibility of CSCL's Mathieson Centre

City Light Church of Victoria

Wheelchair access for City Light Church

City of Charlottetown

Improving accessibility to the Victoria Park Pool, change rooms, splashpad and playground

City of Moose Jaw

Cultural Centre washroom accessibility

Collab Space Corp.

Collab Space accessible doorway

Community Legal Assistance Services for Saskatoon Inner City Inc.

Phase Two - reception and main bathroom accessibility project

Cowichan Green Community Society

KinPark Youth Urban Farm

Disabled Sailing Association of British Columbia

Accessible sailboat upgrade project

Father Walsh Council 8911 Service Club

Downeyville Hall renovation

Foam Lake Community Theatre

Theatre for All

Four Corners Contracting Inc

Four Corners Algonquin - outdoor recreation mobility device project

Full Gospel Church of Port McNeill

Port McNeill Full Gospel Church accessibility project

Gate House Community Association

Wheelchair accessible entry and washroom

Genesis Centre

Enabling accessibility at the Genesis Centre

Glencairn Mennonite Brethren Church

Glencairn Church accessibility lift

Goodwill Industries of Alberta

Industrial kitting facility set-up

Hamilton Malayalee Samajam

Installation of new perimeter lighting around the community centre 

Knox United Church

Knox United Church hearing accessibility initiative

La Fondation Place Coco (The Little Red Playhouse)

Lighting accessibility

Lake Bonavista Community Association

Install push button accessible door operators on gym and arena's entrance doors

Light & Life Ministries Pentecostal Church of God

Installation of automatic door openers for community accessibility stream

Mount Allison Students' Union

Crabtree Building accessibility improvements

No'kmaq Village

Flat Bay Band accessibility upgrade

Northwest School Division

Paradise Hill Community School playground project

Oak Park Neighbourhood Centre

Reducing barriers & increased inclusion

Owlware Limited

Easy access to Owlware

PacificSport Regional Centre - Vancouver Island

PacificSport WheelKids

Pharmacie Rogersville (Thebeau) Ltd.

Aucune limite = une chance pour tous.

Pillar Nonprofit Network

Accessible flex desk

Point in Time Centre for Children, Youth and Parents

Haliburton Youth Wellness Hub accessibility project

Region of Waterloo Swim Club

Accessible swim technologies remove barriers for persons with disabilities

Roman Catholic Parish of St. Michael

Installation of automatic sliding doors to the church

Saint John Arts Centre Inc_Centre Des Arts

Creating a sensory friendly Saint John Arts Centre

Semiahmoo House Society

Sensory tools, helping students thrive project

Sense of Self Inc. (CherringtonSawers)

Mobile quiet room

St Elizabeth of Hungary Parish

Community for all generations

The Unique Get Together Society

Unique Get Together Society Snoezelen sensory room

The Polish Peoples' Home Association

Bringing full accessibility to Polish Club Windsor

Toronto Artscape Inc

Artscape Youngplace – accessibility improvements

Town of West St Modeste

Wheelchair ramp project

Vancouver Adapted Music Society

Accessible mobile music studio project

Village of Bible Hill

Bible Hill Fire Hall - accessibility lift

Ville de Victoriaville

Aménagement d'une salle d'hygiène (changing place) à la Vélogare de Victoriaville

Woodlawn United Church

Hearing loop system to improve access for those with hearing difficulties

Community Living Selkirk

An accessible bathroom for everyone

YMCA of Cape Breton

Improved accessibility

YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka

Orillia YMCA walkway accessibility enhancement


SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada