Ministers release report on disability in Canada

In early December, federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for social services marked the International Day of Disabled Persons with the release of the report Supports and Services for Adults and Children with Disabilities in Canada: An Analysis of Data on Needs and Gaps.

This report furthers knowledge on disability issues in Canada. By fostering a more comprehensive understanding of problems people face accessing disability supports, it will assist in the development of a longer-term strategy on disability investments. Federal, provincial and territorial ministers have agreed to collaborate on this longer-term strategy and continue to work in partnership with the disability community.

The ministers recognized the importance of disability supports as a key building block of the In Unison vision for the full citizenship of persons with disabilities. Disability supports consist of the aids, devices and personal services that help people living with disability actively participate at home, at work, at school and in the community.

Advancing the Inclusion of People with Disabilities 2008 is the sixth annual federal disability report highlighting the government of Canada’s disability-related programs, initiatives and services undertaken by over 30 departments and agencies. This year’s report includes a new chapter on disability-related research and also highlights statistics on the progress of Canadians with disabilities from the 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey, which were released throughout the year.

Chapter 4 of the report will be of particular interest to employers as it deals with learning, skills and employment. Other chapters focus on: Human Rights, the Justice System and Canada’s International Leadership; Accessibility and Disability Supports; Income Support, Benefits and Service Delivery; Well-Being: Health, Safety and Identity; Aboriginal People with Disabilities; Research; and Tax Measures.

In the past year, the federal government says it has introduced several new initiatives and programs to assist Canadians with disabilities. For example, the Enabling Accessibility Fund will provide $45 million over three years for construction and renovation projects needed to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. The Registered Disability Savings Plan, a new initiative announced in Budget 2007, will help eligible individuals and others save for long-term financial security, as of December 2008. The government also provided $110 million to the Mental Health Commission of Canada to support innovative demonstration projects to develop best practices to help Canadians with disabilities who are experiencing mental health and homelessness challenges. In addition, funds were allocated to expand the list of eligible expenses under the Medical Expense Tax Credit.

Internationally, the Canadian government says it has taken a leadership role by being one of the first countries to sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention reaffirms that all people with disabilities must enjoy all and equal human rights and fundamental freedoms. In accordance with Canada’s regular practice with respect to the question of ratifying international treaties, federal, provincial and territorial officials are engaged in a review of domestic laws, policies and programs towards a decision on whether to ratify the convention.

To review the report, visit