Ottawa, May 31, 2013

Archived - Harper Government Supports Full Potential of Canadians with Disabilities Through Canada’s Economic Action Plan

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The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, issued the following statement recognizing Disability Awareness Week (May 26-June 1):

“Disability Awareness Week offers Canadians an important opportunity to reflect on the varied and significant contributions that Canadians with disabilities make to our country each and every day, and the importance of helping to ensure that they and their families can participate to their fullest in the promise our country has to offer.

“Employment and workplace engagement are among the most significant contributors towards fulfilling this promise, and provide all individuals with a sense of dignity and independence. Moreover, Canada’s long-term economic prosperity depends on the labour market participation of all its citizens. Unfortunately, many persons with disabilities continue to have challenges securing gainful employment.

“To address this, Economic Action Plan 2013 announced that our Government will introduce a new generation of Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities by 2014 with an investment of $222 million per year. These reformed Agreements will be designed to better meet the employment needs of Canadian businesses and improve the employment prospects for persons with disabilities, while putting stronger accountability regimes in place.

“Economic Action Plan 2013 will also maintain ongoing funding of $40 million per year starting in
2015–16 for the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities and provide additional funding for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, some of which will support research related to the labour market participation of persons with disabilities.

“At the same time, it will provide a temporary investment to support the creation of the Canadian Employers Disability Forum, as recommended by the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The Forum, an initiative led by a number of Canadian businesses, including Loblaw Companies Limited, will be managed by employers, for employers, to facilitate education, training and sharing of resources and best practices concerning the hiring and retention of persons with disabilities.

“With these actions, we are moving forward in full agreement with the Panel’s conclusion that ‘We need to have people in our workforce who can do the job best, and we have found that sometimes that person just happens to have a disability.’ 

“These labour market measures will complement and build effectively upon the significant steps our Government has taken since 2006 to help people with disabilities. An initiative I am particularly proud of is the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). The RDSP was introduced in the 2007 budget to help families save for the long-term needs of a member with a severe disability. Nearly 70,000 RDSPs have been opened across Canada since the plan has become available. Since 2008, approximately $340 million has been contributed to RDSPs. In addition, the Government of Canada has paid $475 million in Canada Disability Savings Grants and $215 million in Canada Disability Savings Bonds into these plans.

“As we near the conclusion of Disability Awareness Week, I would encourage all Canadians and Canadian employers to join us in our efforts to support people with disabilities and help ensure full participation in the Canadian economy.”

For further information, media may contact:

Kathleen Perchaluk
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Finance

Jack Aubry
Media Relations
Department of Finance

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