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Government of Canada invests in youth-driven accessibility projects

 

 

News release

August 11, 2023                 Scarborough, Ontario             Employment and Social Development Canada

In Canada and abroad, young people are a driving force for change and they have a keen desire to participate and engage in their communities. With the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) program, the Government of Canada helps young Canadians support that desire by helping them develop leadership skills, gain valuable experience, and make a positive difference in their communities. This program aims to make Canada more accessible for persons with disabilities.

Today, in celebration of International Youth Day on August 12th, the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Kamal Khera, announced $1.1 million in funding for accessibility projects led by Canadian youth in partnerships with 131 organizations across the country. This funding is distributed through the EAF youth innovation component 2022 call for proposals, which ran from June 3 to October 31, 2022.

Through the EAF’s youth innovation component, Canadian youth between the ages of 15 and 30 are encouraged to become Youth Accessibility Leaders (YALs). The unique role of a YAL is to help identify accessibility barriers within their communities, and then partner with local organizations to help secure up to $10,000 in accessibility project funding to address the barriers in community spaces and workplaces.

For the occasion, Minister Khera, accompanied by Jean Yip, Member of Parliament for Scarborough—Agincourt, Ontario, visited the Community Family Services of Ontario (CFSO) in Scarborough, Ontario. CFSO provides a variety of services, including disability and special need services, to address the needs of individuals and families affected by various types of visible and invisible disabilities as well as special needs. The organization is receiving:

$8,898 in funding to purchase accessible devices and equipment such as an infrared-based hearing system, a FM-based hearing system and a screen-reading group license. This will enhance and expand service provisions in a safe, inclusive and culturally sensitive manner, and provide greater opportunities for current or future employees with disabilities.

On June 5, 2023, a new call for proposals under the EAF youth innovation component was launched. Youth are invited to submit their expressions of interest in being named a YAL by October 10, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. EDT online. Eligible organizations are invited to submit their funding application(s) in collaboration with the YAL by October 31, 2023 at 5:00p.m. EDT online. Interested young Canadians and organizations are invited to attend upcoming information sessions available at https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/enabling-accessibility-fund-youth-innovation.html.

This funding supports the development of accessible and inclusive communities, which is the focus of Pillar 3 under the Government’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan. It also underscores the federal Government’s ongoing commitment to create a truly inclusive Canada, free of physical, societal, and attitudinal barriers.

Quotes

“Young people are the leaders of today. The youth innovation component of the Enabling Accessibility Fund is about making sure we’re helping young Canadians to be positive agents of change within their own communities. In order to build a more inclusive and accessible Canada, we need to include all voices at the table, and that is exactly what our government is committed to do. Young Canadians are certainly an important part of this process, as they have unique and important perspectives on what a barrier-free Canada should look like.”
– Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Kamal Khera
“On International Youth Day, we celebrate the vibrant energy, creativity, and resilience of young people in communities across Canada. The power of youth knows no bounds – it’s a force for positive change, innovation, and progress.”
– Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Marci Ien
“Through the youth innovation component of the Enabling Accessibility Fund, local youth and community organizations are able to make a tangible impact on the lives of persons with disabilities. The federal government invested over $8,000 in funding for Community Family Services of Ontario to purchase communications equipment to help community members with disabilities to access their services. This is a great program that empowers youth and improves accessibility and inclusivity here in Scarborough-Agincourt and across the country.”
– Jean Yip, Member of Parliament for Scarborough–Agincourt
 “The Enabling Accessibility Fund is a strong enabler for members of the community with vulnerabilities not limited to physical disabilities but also invisible disabilities such as mental, learning, and communicative disabilities. CFSO has leveraged these funds to empower newcomer and racialized youth with special needs or emotional disorders with assistive technology, mental health counselling, career advising, language training, and employment support, so that such youth can become socially integrated and financially independent. Canada benefits from having their talents and contribution to our economy.”  
– Dr. Anna Victoria Wong, Executive Director, Community Family Services of Ontario

Quick facts

  • The 2017 Canada Survey on Disability found that one in five Canadians aged 15 and over—or about 6.2 million persons—report having a disability.
  • The Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) is a federal grants and contributions program that supports construction, renovation and retrofit projects across Canada that improve the accessibility, safety, and inclusion of persons with disabilities in communities and the labour market. Over 7,200 projects have been funded under the EAF since its launch in 2007, helping thousands of Canadians gain access to programs, services, and employment opportunities in their communities.
  • The latest call for proposals under the EAF youth innovation component was launched on June 5, 2023. Youth can submit their expressions of interest in being named a Youth Accessibility Leader (YAL) online: Engaging youth leaders to encourage organizations to apply for funding under the Youth Innovation Component of the Enabling Accessibility Fund by October 10, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. Canadian organizations partnering with a confirmed YAL, can submit their application for project funding by 5:00 p.m. EDT online on October 31, 2023.
  • Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada committed up to $100 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to triple funding for the EAF to help make communities and workplaces more accessible for persons with disabilities by reducing barriers to employment, activities, and programs. An additional $25 million over two years in grants and contributions was committed to help children with disabilities and their parents by supporting Early Learning and Childcare centres to make physical upgrades to improve accessibility.
  • The Government of Canada helps address the needs of persons with disabilities through various programs, and Budget 2023 furthers these actions, proposing $10 million over two years, beginning in 2023-24, for Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to help address the unique needs and ongoing barriers faced by persons with disabilities by investing in capacity building and the community-level work of Canada’s disability organizations.
  • Budget 2023 also proposes to provide $21.5 million to ESDC to continue work on the future delivery of the Canada Disability Benefit, including engagement with the disability community and the provinces and territories on the regulatory process.

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Contacts

For media enquiries, please contact:

Alisson Lévesque
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Kamal Khera
alisson.levesque@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
(873) 455-6248

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
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