Canada is at its best when everybody is included. Each one of us has attributes and abilities that make us unique and valuable. No two people are the same.
When people with disabilities are given the opportunity to fully contribute and participate in their communities and workplaces, we create a stronger country for everyone. That line of thinking was the driving force behind National AccessAbility Week, which was recently recognized from coastto-coast-to-coast.
The goal was to promote inclusion and accessibility, celebrate the progress that has been made, and get inspired to further break down barriers. During National AccessAbility Week, a call for proposals was opened for two funding streams under the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF).
The EAF provides funding for eligible capital projects that increase accessibility for people with disabilities in communities and workplaces. This improves access to employment opportunities for those with disabilities and encourages them to participate in community activities, programs and services.
The small projects stream provides grant funding of up to $100,000 per project to support small scale construction, and renovation or retrofit projects. Proposals are being accepted until July 26, 2018. An exciting new stream is also being offered this year.
The youth innovation component empowers youth to identify accessibility barriers within their communities and work with local organizations to develop solutions to increase accessibility and safety in community spaces and workplaces. Proposals for the youth innovation stream will be accepted until September 21, 2018.
I am proud that Northwestern Ontario has actively taken part in ensuring our communities are accessible and welcoming to all. Since 2015, more than $415,000 has gone towards 11 EAF projects here in the riding. Red Lake, Dryden, Vermilion Bay, Pickle Lake, Kenora, Wabauskang First Nation and Naotkamegwanning (Whitefish Bay) First Nation have all received grants for projects to improve accessibility in their communities through the program.
Canada has taken great strides in fostering an inclusive society for people with disabilities, but there is still work to be done. The Government of Canada will take an important step by introducing accessibility legislation to eliminate barriers and ensure greater accessibility and opportunities for Canadians with disabilities in areas under federal jurisdiction.
I believe that by working together, we can all play a role in making Canada an even more accessible and inclusive place so that everyone has an opportunity to succeed.
Bob Nault is MP for the riding of Kenora