Government of Canada helps increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and Aboriginal peoples

(OTTAWA, ON, July 31, 2015 /CNW/) - Today, the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, announced support to help Canadians with disabilities and Aboriginal peoples gain meaningful employment in federally regulated sectors such as banking, transportation and communications.

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students is receiving $150,000 for a project that will educate employers on how to make workplaces more accessible and inclusive so they can better attract, retain and advance the careers of employees with disabilities.

To encourage persons with disabilities to consider a career in the transportation sector, the BC Centre for Ability is receiving $460,377 for a project that will create a comprehensive recruitment framework. The funding will also be used to develop strategies for the long-term career development of employees with disabilities to improve retention rates in the sector.

The Paqtnkek Mi'kmaw Nation is receiving $269,950 for a project that will help reduce barriers to employment for Aboriginal peoples. The project will create and strengthen partnerships with large-scale employers in Nova Scotia, particularly those in sectors such as banking and communications where Aboriginal peoples have traditionally been under-represented.

Funding for these projects is being delivered through the Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity (WORBE) program. Through the creation of industry-tailored strategies and partnerships, the WORBE program is providing up to $500,000 annually for projects that improve the representation of persons with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, women and members of visible minority groups in federally regulated workplaces.

Quick Facts

-    In Canada, there are 4.4 million people (approximately 14 percent of the population) with a disability, and their representation in the workforce has more than doubled since 1987. Through Canada's Economic Action Plan, the Government of Canada is helping persons with disabilities succeed in the workplace. For example, the Enabling Accessibility Fund has been extended by $15 million per year on an ongoing basis to improve accessibility in workplaces across Canada. In addition, the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, with an increase in funding to $40 million annually, is being reformed to provide more demand-driven training for persons with disabilities.

-   Through a new generation of Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities (LMAPDs), the Government invests $222 million per year, which allows the provinces and territories to determine how to best address the needs of Canadians with disabilities while helping Canadian businesses benefit from their skills and talent. Under the LMAPDs, approximately 300,000 interventions are provided annually for persons with disabilities through over 100 programs across the country.

-   The Government's Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) supports over 80 Aboriginal organizations with more than 600 points of service across Canada to develop and deliver labour market programs and services targeted to the unique needs of clients in their communities. Since 2010, ASETS has helped over 80,000 Aboriginal peoples find a job and over 38,000 return to school.

-    Launched in July 2010, the Government's Skills and Partnership Fund encourages Aboriginal organizations to create partnerships with government, business and community organizations that drive change, improve skills training and create opportunities for Aboriginal peoples. Through Canada's Economic Action Plan 2015, the Government is providing $215 million over five years to the Skills and Partnership Fund.


"In Canada, we depend on the skills of our workers to keep our economy strong. When everyone has the opportunity to achieve their full potential in the workforce, we all benefit. The funding announced today will help give employers the tools they need to support the long-term integration and career advancement of Canadians with disabilities and Aboriginal peoples."
– The Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, P.C., O.Ont., M.P., Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women

"We are very excited about this project and the significant funding support we have received from the Government of Canada. The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) represents post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities right across Canada. This three-year national employment project will have a significant impact on the success of talented persons with disabilities with college and university education in the competitive labour market. We have brought private-sector employers and stakeholder groups to the table to guide the project for maximum impact."
– Emily Duffett, Chair/Nova Scotia Director, National Educational Association of Disabled Students

"BC Centre for Ability Association is looking forward to working in partnership with Seaspan, CHC Helicopter, Rocky Mountaineer and Vancouver International Airport to develop an effective framework for the transportation sector in the recruitment and retention of persons with disabilities, thus strengthening their organizational capacity to build an inclusive workforce."
– Angela Kwok, Executive Director, BC Centre for Ability Association

"This is a great addition to the Skills and Partnership Fund. Our goal is to work proactively in advocacy for our Mi'kmaw Community and to challenge the barriers we face in employment, trades and partnerships. We hope now we can see meaningful working relationships through this project that will benefit families in Paqtnkek."
– Rose Julian, Director of Economic Development, Paqtnkek Mi'kmaw Nation

Associated Links:

Workplace Opportunities Funding

Labour Program


BC Centre for Ability

Paqtnkek Mi'kmaw Nation

Aboriginal Labour Market Programs

Programs for Persons with Disabilities


The Employment Equity Act aims to achieve equality in the workplace so that no one is denied opportunities for reasons unrelated to ability, and to address workplace disadvantages faced by the four designated groups: women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.

The Labour Program ensures that federally regulated private-sector employers and Crown corporations report annually on the representation of these designated groups in their workplaces and on the steps they have taken to achieve full representation through the Legislated Employment Equity Program. Employment equity must be included in the employment plans and practices of all federally regulated businesses with 100 or more employees.

There have been varying degrees of progress in improving the representation of the designated groups toward achieving equity. However, under-representation persists in a number of occupational groups and industries.

Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity is a new grant and contribution program designed to support employers subject to the Employment Equity Act in their efforts to improve designated-group representation in areas of low representation through partnerships and industry-tailored strategies.

The project with the National Educational Association of Disabled Students will engage students with disabilities and employers to promote the value of diversity and inclusion within the workplace. The project aims to develop strategies to improve workplace accessibility for employees with disabilities in federally regulated sectors such as banking, transportation and communications.

The BC Centre for Ability's project will form a consortium with four private corporations in British Columbia's transportation sector to identify employment-related barriers and strengthen the sector's capacity for the recruitment, retention and career advancement of persons with disabilities. It will also heighten industry awareness of untapped resources, namely, the skilled and qualified candidates with disabilities who remain under‑represented in the transportation sector.

The project with the Paqtnkek Mi'kmaw Nation will review Aboriginal-specific barriers to employment, including those that are cultural and cross-cultural in nature. Sector businesses will be targeted for a series of engagement sessions to further identify barriers to employment and explore potential solutions. The project will also include focus groups with Aboriginal peoples in Paqtnkek Mi'kmaw Nation to discuss these and other related issues.

SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

For further information: Andrew McGrath, Director of Communications, Office of the Hon. Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, P.C., O.Ont., M.P., Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, 819-953-5646,; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559,

Press release on Canada News Wire: