Economic Action Plan 2013: Supporting Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities

budget small pictureOttawa, Ontario—Dr. Kellie Leitch, Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, highlighted key Economic Action Plan 2013 measures to strengthen federal programming for people with disabilities. Her remarks were made on behalf of the Minister at the Employment Accessibility Resource Network (EARN) Conference of the United Way.   

“Skills and labour shortages present Canada’s most significant socio-economic challenge and we need all of our skills and talent at work,” said Dr. Leitch. “Canada’s long-term prosperity depends on the labour market participation of all its citizens, including those currently underrepresented in the labour market.” 

Economic Action Plan 2013 announces specific new measures to connect Canadians with available jobs and address skills mismatches and labour shortages. These include introducing the Canada Job Grant, creating opportunities for apprentices and supporting job opportunities for all Canadians. 

The Harper Government recognizes the important contributions persons with disabilities make to the economy. Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes specific new measures to help people with disabilities in the workforce by: 

  • extending the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities for one year and introducing a new generation of Agreements in 2014;
  • providing ongoing funding of $40 million per year starting in 2015–16 for the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities;
  • supporting the Enabling Accessibility Fund at a level of $15 million per year to improve physical accessibility for people with disabilities; and
  • announcing additional funding of $7 million for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, some of which will support research related to the labour market participation of persons with disabilities. 

Recognizing the strong work of the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, the Harper Government will also create the Canadian Employers Disability Forum to facilitate education, training and sharing of resources and best practices on the hiring and retention of people with disabilities. 

“The measures announced in Economic Action Plan 2013 will help ensure continued economic growth, job creation and long-term prosperity, while better aligning training solutions to labour market demand,” Dr. Leitch concluded. 

Economic Action Plan 2013 offers a path to return to balanced budgets by 2015-16, which will strengthen Canada’s fiscal advantage and spur long-term jobs and growth.

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Canada Job Grant

The Canada Job Grant will ensure Canadians are able to obtain the qualifications they need to get jobs in high-demand fields. The Grant will provide $15,000 or more per person, including a maximum $5,000 federal contribution and matching contributions from provinces/territories and employers. Businesses with a plan to train Canadians for an existing job or a better job will be eligible to apply for a Canada Job Grant. Upon full implementation, nearly 130 000 Canadians each year are expected to be able to access the training they need to obtain gainful employment or improve their skills for in-demand jobs. The Canada Job Grant will be introduced in 2014-15 as part of the renewal of the Labour Market Agreements.

Opportunities for Apprentices

To further reduce barriers to accreditation in the skilled trades in Canada and increase opportunities for apprentices, the Government will work with provinces and territories to harmonize requirements for apprentices, and examine the use of practical hands-on tests as a method of assessment, in targeted skilled trades. This will support more apprentices in completing their training and encourage mobility across the country. 

In addition, the Government will support the use of apprentices in federal construction and maintenance contracts and ensure that funds transferred to provinces and territories through the Investment in Affordable Housing Program support the use of apprentices. As part of the new Building Canada plan for infrastructure, the Government will encourage provinces, territories and municipalities to support the use of apprentices in infrastructure projects receiving federal funding. 

Support for Under-represented Groups

Economic Action Plan 2013 also announced support for increased labour market participation and a more inclusive skilled workforce, including:

  • A reallocation of $19 million over two years to promote education in high-demand fields, including the skilled trades, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • Investing $70 million over three years to support an additional 5 000 paid internships for recent post-secondary graduates, ensuring they get the valuable hands-on work experience needed to transition into the workforce.
  • Dedicating $241 million over five years to improve the on-reserve Income Assistance Program to help ensure Aboriginal youth can access the skills and training they need to secure employment.