The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is pleased to announce the launch of a new grant program, the Abilities Connect Fund. This initiative aims to raise awareness among employers about the benefits of hiring, integrating, and retaining people with disabilities in the workplace.
As highlighted in the 2013 OCC report, Building Bridges: Linking Employers to Postsecondary Graduates with Disabilities, approximately 46,700 students with disabilities are enrolled in colleges and universities across Ontario. The Abilities Connect Fund is designed to encourage employers to leverage this untapped talent pool to meet their skills requirements, and provide early workplace experience for students and recent graduates with disabilities to help improve their employment outcomes and career trajectory.
This pilot program has two funding streams:
1. Valuing Abilities Employment supports the hiring and training of college/university students or recent graduates with disabilities. The maximum an organization can receive is $20,000 for up to four employees; and
2. Valuing Abilities Workplace Solutions supports the purchase of assistive devices, specialized training, and assessments for new or current employees with disabilities. The maximum grant an organization can receive for this stream is $3,000.
In 2005, the Province of Ontario released the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and to build on its progress, released The Path to 2025: Ontario’s Accessibility Action Plan on June 3, 2015. As part of the three key priorities of this plan, the Abilities Connect Fund plays an integral part in engaging employers to recognize the value of hiring people with disabilities.
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