GATINEAU, QC, Dec. 3, 2021 /CNW/ - Parents and guardians of children with disabilities have always faced unique challenges in finding quality, affordable and inclusive child care options that meet the specific needs of their children, a reality that has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why the Government of Canada is determined to build an early learning and child care system that is inclusive from the start, giving all children an equal chance to succeed.
Today, in celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced a call for proposals for the new Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) Small Projects Component on Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC).
Up to $25 million over two years will be allocated through this call for proposals to projects that will help to improve the accessibility and safety of regulated and/or licensed early learning and child care centres across the country. This funding could benefit approximately 350 child care centres, and support accessible infrastructure improvements such as ramps, doors, washrooms, elevators, lifts, and play structures. Accessible information and communication technology projects are also eligible for funding support. Online information sessions will be offered to support organizations through the application process. Organizations have until January 28, 2022 to apply by visiting Canada.ca/enabling-accessibility-fund-early-learning-child-care
The Government of Canada is committed to creating a Canada-wide early learning and child care system that is inclusive and accessible - a system that provides families across the country with access to high quality, affordable and inclusive early learning and child care centres that are adapted to their needs. This initiative aligns with the objectives of the Government's Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), specifically the creation of disability inclusive spaces. It will also help support an inclusive recovery by removing barriers to participation for parents and guardians of children with disabilities in the labour market, driving strong and inclusive economic growth as Canada recovers from the pandemic.
As part of ongoing work on the DIAP, Minister Qualtrough also announced that Independent Living Canada, in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy Canada, were selected as recipients of $650,000 under the Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability component, to further consult on the development of the DIAP over the next 16 months. The two organizations will work with disability stakeholders across the country to solicit community perspectives and insights into the design and implementation of key initiatives under the DIAP. This engagement will feature perspectives on underrepresented and harder-to-reach populations including: Black and other racialized persons with disabilities and persons with disabilities who identify as LGBTQ2+.
Finally, Minister Qualtrough also took the opportunity to highlight that the Government of Canada has received a 2022 Zero Project award for its ground-breaking Accessible Canada Act (ACA). The Minister acknowledged the great honour of receiving this award on behalf of the Government. The award recognizes the innovative accessibility practices and policies embodied in the ACA. The Zero Project supports the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities around the world.
"Not all Canadian parents have access to child care facilities that meet the specific needs of their children. Through this call for proposals, our Government is supporting parents and guardians of children with disabilities by facilitating access to inclusive and accessible early learning and child care centres. They will have peace of mind knowing that their children are safe and are being given the best chance to thrive in an inclusive and accessible environment."
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
"Families with children with disabilities continue to face unique challenges to find accessible child care spaces that meet their needs. That's why we are working towards making child care fully inclusive so all children have the best possible start in life."
– Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould
One in five Canadians aged 15 and over—or about 6.2 million persons—are reported as having a disability.
The EAF is a federal grants and contributions program that supports infrastructure projects across Canada that improve the accessibility, safety and inclusion of persons with disabilities. Over 5,000 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.
Budget 2021 provides new investments to build a high-quality, affordable, flexible, and inclusive early learning and child care system across Canada. These investments total up to $30 billion over five years, and combined with previous investments announced since 2015, $9.2 billion every year, permanently. As part of that investment, Budget 2021 included $29.2 million over two years starting in 2021–22, through the EAF, to make immediate progress for children with disabilities by supporting child care centres as they make infrastructure and information and communication technology upgrades to improve the accessibility of their facilities.
The Government is moving forward with its first-ever Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), which will include a new Canada Disability Benefit, improved processes for eligibility for Government disability programs and benefits, and a robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities. These strong measures complement the Accessible Canada Act and help create a more inclusive Canada.
SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada
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