Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s young people—particularly young Canadians with disabilities—have been among the most affected. During National AccessAbility Week, it is important to recognize the many contributions that Canadians with disabilities have made and continue to make in our communities, and to ensure that they have the tools they need to succeed now and into the future.
The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced $240,000 in funding to the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) for the Virtual Access for All program.
This program is a two-year project that will support students with disabilities so that they can successfully navigate the transition to post-secondary education. With this funding, NEADS will offer virtual mentoring and webinars on various topics related to accessibility, as well as expand their National Student Awards Program, which provides scholarship awards to post-secondary students with disabilities.
Students with disabilities often face systemic barriers to education, which make it more challenging for them to complete their studies and may cause them to graduate with more debt. Projects like this play an important role in ensuring students with disabilities can successfully complete their studies and be a part of an inclusive economic recovery for all Canadians.
This project adds to the investment made in Budget 2021 to support students with disabilities. This includes the extension of disability supports under the Canada Student Loans Program to recipients whose disabilities are persistent or prolonged, but not necessarily permanent.
The change will benefit an estimated 40,000 recipients with non-permanent disabilities each year through access to up to $30,000 in grants, in-study supports such as assistive services and equipment, and specialized repayment assistance on their loans.
Removing barriers to accessibility and inclusion gives Canadians with disabilities the opportunity to participate more fully in our communities, helping our economy prosper so that all Canadians benefit.