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Government of Canada Celebrates 20th Annual International Day of Persons With Disabilities

OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 12/03/12 -- The Government of Canada is committed to supporting an inclusive and accessible society for all Canadians. The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, reaffirmed this commitment today, on the occasion of the 20th annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

"In recognizing the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I am proud to join Canadians in celebrating the tremendous contributions that people with disabilities make to our country," said Minister Finley. "This day reminds us that everyone wins when our communities and workplaces are more inclusive and accessible."

The Government of Canada supports numerous programs and initiatives to promote the inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in Canadian society. Some of these measures include the Registered Disability Savings Plan, the Enabling Accessibility Fund and the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities. On an international scale, Canada committed to continue building an inclusive society by ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in 2010.

Through Economic Action Plan 2012, a Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities was created to identify private sector successes and best practices in the employment of people with disabilities, as well as barriers faced by employers. After a series of consultations with the business community this fall, today the Panel submitted its report to Minister Finley and the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance.

"We wish to thank the four panel members for their great contribution and are looking forward to reading their report," said Minister Flaherty. "Ensuring that the labour force is inclusive of Canadians with disabilities is critical to our country's growth and prosperity."

For more information on programs and services for people with disabilities, visit www.hrsdc.gc.ca/disability.

This news release is available in alternative formats on request.

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Backgrounder

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

In 1992, the United Nations (UN) proclaimed that December 3 of each year would be International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Every year, the UN encourages governmental, non-governmental and private-sector organizations to celebrate the occasion by organizing activities that focus attention on disability issues and on the contributions of persons with disabilities to the societies in which they live.

The theme of the 2012 International Day of Persons with Disabilities is "Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all." For more information, visit the UN website.

Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities

The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance announced the creation of the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities on July 30, 2012, as outlined in the Economic Action Plan 2012. Over the past months, the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities engaged private sector businesses, as well as other organizations and individuals, through online and in-person consultations, to identify best practices, successful approaches and barriers to employment from the perspective of employers. It will be submitting its report to Ministers on December 3.

Registered Disability Savings Plan

The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is a savings plan that helps people with disabilities and their families save for the future. The RDSP, Canada Disability Savings Grant and Canada Disability Savings Bond were introduced in Budget 2007 and became available to Canadians in December 2008.

To help people save, the Government of Canada provides a matching grant of up to $3,500 annually depending on the amount contributed and the beneficiary's family income and a bond of up to $1,000 annually for low- and modest-income Canadians. No contributions are necessary to receive the bond.

For more information on the RDSP, visit www.disabilitysavings.gc.ca.

Enabling Accessibility Fund

The Enabling Accessibility Fund was originally announced in 2007 as a three-year, $45-million program aiming to improve accessibility, remove barriers and enable Canadians with disabilities to participate in, and contribute to, their communities. In 2010, the Fund was extended with an additional three-year, $45-million commitment and the creation of a new mid-sized component. Since the first call for proposals in 2008, over 800 projects have been awarded funding to improve accessibility in Canadian communities.

Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities

The Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities assists people with disabilities to prepare for, obtain and keep employment or become self-employed. The Government of Canada invests $30 million annually through this program to connect individuals with the skills and work experience needed to participate fully in the economy. Through budget 2012, the government also invested an additional $30 million over three years

For more information, or to propose a project, visit servicecanada.gc.ca.

Labour Market Development Agreements for Persons with Disabilities

Through Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities, the Government provides approximately $218 million per year in funding to provinces to help Canadians with disabilities develop their skills so they can find employment. These agreements support a broad range of programs and services, including job coaching and mentoring, pre-employment training and skills upgrading, post-secondary education, assistive aids and devices, and a variety of workplace supports.

Contacts:
Marian Ngo
Office of Minister Finley
819-994-2482

Media Relations Office
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
819-994-5559

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