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Ottawa, Jun 7 (Canadian-Media): The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the day-to-day obstacles that persons with disabilities face and the Government of Canada remains dedicated to working with partners across the country to build a more accessible and inclusive Canada.
Today, as part of National AccessAbility Week, Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, announced an additional $1.1 million in funding to support national disability organizations through the Social Development Partnership Program - Disability Component to enhance their communications and engagement activities to better address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on persons with disabilities.
National AccessAbility Week. Image credit: Website
The importance of accessible communications and the need for engagement with persons with disabilities during the pandemic is critical at this time and has been raised as a key issue by the disability community and the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group. The Advisory Group was created to advise Minister Qualtrough on the real-time lived experiences of persons with disabilities during this crisis, on disability-specific issues, challenges and systemic gaps, on strategies, measures and steps to be taken in response, in keeping with a “nothing without us” approach.
Carla Qualtrough. Image credit: Twitter handle
Supporting the disability community to maintain communications and engagement during the pandemic will allow organizations to create a barrier-free, multi-lingual experience for persons with disabilities and ensure they receive accessible and relevant information to support them during this time.
As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government is committed to helping persons with disabilities maintain their health, safety and dignity. Since the beginning of National AccessAbility Week, the Government announced funding of up to $6.4 million over three years for up to 16 organizations across Canada through the disability component of the Social Development Partnerships Program. The Government also launched a call for proposals under the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) small projects component for small-scale construction, renovation or retrofit projects for funding of up to $100,000. Young Canadians can also express their interest in volunteering and collaborating with local organizations in their communities through the Youth Innovation component of the EAF to secure funding up to $10,000 for accessibility projects.
On June 5, the Prime Minister announced additional supports in recognition of the extraordinary expenses faced by persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These supports include a one-time payment of up to $600 to certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit, a new investment of $15 million to create a National Workplace Accessibility Stream through the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, as well as new investments through the Accessible Technology Program.
“These last few months have been hard for everyone. We know that persons with disabilities face unique and heightened challenges and vulnerabilities during a pandemic including access to information and communications, mental health and social isolation and employment and income supports. That is why, in the spirit of “nothing without us,” the Government of Canada continues to work with organizations and persons with disabilities across the country, using a disability lens to address their concerns and challenges to provide the support they need during this difficult time,” said Qualtrough.