Evaluation of the Enabling Accessibility Fund

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

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Acronyms

CSGC
Common System for Grants and Contributions

EAF
Enabling Accessibility Fund

ESDC
Employment and Social Development Canada

List of tables

List of figures

Executive summary

Introduction

This report presents the findings and conclusions of the 2017 Evaluation of the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) program. In accordance with the Financial Administration Act and Treasury Board Policy on Results requirements, the program must be evaluated by December 31, 2017, a period of five years following the last evaluation of the program.

The main objective of the 2012 EAF Evaluation was to examine issues of relevance and performance of the program, including effectiveness, efficiency, and economy of the small projects (grants under $50,000) component over fiscal years 2007 to 2008 to 2009 to 2010. The objective of the 2017 Evaluation was to build on the 2012 summative evaluation. It has the main objective of examining the role leveragingFootnote 1 played in the various calls for proposals and lessons learned. The secondary objectives of this evaluation are to examine the ongoing need for the program; the effectiveness of the Community Accessibility Stream (small-sized and mid-sized) projects and to assess the challenges related to the implementation of its relatively new workplace funding stream.

Program objectives

The objective of the EAF is to support community based projects across Canada that improve accessibility, remove barriers, and enable Canadians with disabilities to participate in and contribute to their community and the labour market. Through grants and contributions, the program contributes to the capital costs of construction and renovation projects. It receives $15 million in annual program funding. Budget 2016 provided an additional $4 million over two years starting in fiscal year 2016 to 2017. The ultimate outcome of the program is for people with disabilities to have opportunities to participate in and contribute to community life.

Program design

The EAF has two funding streams: the Community Accessibility Stream (Community Stream) in place since 2007 and the Workplace Accessibility Stream (Workplace Stream) introduced in 2013.

The Community Stream has a small project component and a mid-sized project component. Small projects of 52 weeks’ duration are eligible for a maximum grant of $100,000, but have traditionally been limited to $50,000. Mid-sized projects are eligible for contributions of up to $3 million. They allow communities to undertake larger retrofit projects that house services and programs that emphasize a holistic approach to the social and labour market integration needs of people with disabilities. The Workplace Stream was introduced in 2013. Eligible projects must be directly related to maintaining or creating job opportunities for people with disabilities. Workplace projects are eligible for a maximum grant of $50,000.

Projects generally involve the retrofitting, renovation or construction of facilities or venues; retrofitting of vehicles for community or work use; and the provision of information and communication technologies to render communities and workplaces more accessible.

Conclusions

The demand for program funds as reflected in the number of applications received exceeds the supply of available EAF funds for both the Community and Workplace Streams. The evaluation findings suggest that the Community Stream (small-size and mid-sized) created more accessible facilities for people with disabilities. In addition, the evidence suggests that the Workplace Stream projects positively impacted employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The evaluation examined the role leveraging played in the various calls for proposals and lessons learned. It was believed that the introduction of the minimum leveraging requirement could be used as a demand management tool; and that it would allow the program to expand the number of funded projects with the available money. The evidence presented in this report suggests that this objective was achieved.

Prior to the introduction of the mandatory minimum leveraging requirement and by the time it reached 35%, a number of findings emerged that include the following:

  • It improved demand management of EAF project applications. The number of applications dropped by almost 50% from 2,265 to 1,149.
  • The program achieved greater results at a lower cost. The total project contributions increased almost threefold to $113.8M, up from $39.9M during which time ESDC’s inputs amounted to $25.4M, up marginally from $20.0M.
  • Accessibility capacity improved overall in Canadian society. The program is funding about 90% more projects going from 467 to 893; and the average project size increased by almost 48% going from $86K to $127K.
  • The program is fostering relationships amongst organizations that provide external funding sources where 25% of the projects cited 2 or more funding sources up from 15%. As well, new partnerships amongst non-profit organizations are also emerging after the projects are completed.
  • The incidence of recipient organizations contributing towards the costs of their project is increasing. They cited themselves as a funding source for 59% of the projects up from 31%.

Recommendations

Firstly, under the 2014 Call for the Workplace Stream, the only eligible applicants for EAF funding were the small businesses, with the minimum leveraging requirement of 50%, acceptable in cash only. The number of applicants from this stream was quite low, where under the 2013 Call there were 16 applicants and under the 2014 Call there were only ten. It seems plausible to infer that applicants from among the small businesses may have faced challenges in meeting the mandatory minimum leveraging requirements.

  • Recommendation 1: It is recommended that Employment and Social Development Canada take steps to improve the representation of small private sector enterprises in the Workplace Accessibility Stream of the Enabling Accessibility Fund.
    • Secondly, much of the data collected from the project completion reports are overall, valid and reliable, and updated regularly; but there are some inconsistencies and a high non-response rate for many of the questions. This leaves data gaps that affect the quality of data analysis for the purposes of the evaluation of the program. As well, the data is manually inputted into an Excel database, which requires a significant amount of resources.
  • Recommendation 2: It is recommended that Employment and Social Development Canada take steps to improve its data collection strategy.

Management response

The Enabling Accessibility Fund is a $15M grants and contributions program that improves accessibility in communities and workplaces in order to enable Canadians with disabilities across Canada to participate more fully in their communities. It was initially announced in 2007 as a three-year $45M program. It was renewed in 2010 for an additional three years, and was extended on an ongoing basis in 2013. A Workplace Accessibility Stream was also introduced through the 2013 program renewal.

Although not in the scope of the 2017 Evaluation, it should be noted that the program was allocated additional funding through Budget 2016 ($4M over two years) and Budget 2017 ($77M over 10 years). This funding is being provided through the Social Infrastructure Fund to expand the program’s activities and further the accessibility of community spaces and workplaces across Canada. These recent investments, for which there is a particular focus on social and economic impacts, will need to be considered in the scope of future evaluations.

The 2017 Summative Evaluation built on the lessons learned and best practices from the 2012 Summative Evaluation which confirmed the relevance of the program with the need for improvements in the areas of program delivery, project selection, and the measurement of outcomes. The current evaluation focused on examining the role leveraging played in the various Calls for Proposals conducted under the program and the identification of lessons learned. A secondary set of objectives of this evaluation was to examine the ongoing need for the program, its effectiveness, and in particular the outcomes of the program’s mid-sized projects, and to assess challenges related to the implementation of the new Workplace Stream.

The period covered under this evaluation was from 2009 to 2015 and included funded projects from across the country. Outcomes for all Community Stream and Workplace Stream projects covered the period between 2011 and 2015. The leveraging component of the evaluation covered the periods between 2009 and 2015 for the Community Stream and between 2013 and 2014 for the Workplace Stream.

Key findings

The summative evaluation demonstrated that the introduction of a leveraging requirement to Calls for Proposals proved to be an efficient tool in managing funding demand and allowed the funding of a greater number of projects. In terms of the program’s ongoing need, its effectiveness and the challenges related to the implementation of the Workplace Stream, the evaluation found that there is a continued need for the program, and that it is achieving its intended outcomes in an efficient manner.

While the evaluation demonstrates that the program is meeting its objectives and that it continues to make a valuable difference in the lives of people with disabilities by increasing accessibility in community spaces and workplaces across Canada, it also provides specific recommendations for further improvements.

Recommendation 1:

It is recommended that Employment and Social Development Canada take steps to improve the representation of small private sector enterprises in the Workplace Accessibility Stream of the Enabling Accessibility Fund.

Response

Management acknowledges there is an under-representation of small private sector enterprises (or businesses) under the Workplace Stream of the program and the potential challenges generated by the leveraging requirements for this particular group, which in turn impacts the number of project proposals being submitted under this funding stream.

To improve the number of proposals received from small private sector enterprises under the Workplace Stream, the EAF Program Policy Unit has implemented several measures through the fiscal years 2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018 Calls for Proposals.

Namely, the mandatory leveraging requirement has been reduced from 50% to 35%. The type of contributions accepted under this requirement has also been expanded to include both cash and in-kind contributions, which is aligned with the leveraging requirements under the Community Stream.

In addition, the size limit of eligible small businesses under the Workplace Stream has been revised to include businesses that have up to 99 full-time equivalent employees, as opposed to the previous definition which limited applications from businesses with a maximum of 50 full-time equivalent employees. This new definition aligns with the federal government’s official definition of a small business, and it increases the pool of potential funding applicants under the Workplace Stream.

In addition to combining the Calls for Proposals for both funding streams of the program to increase visibility of the Workplace Stream, a renewed outreach strategy was also established and specific promotional activities to create more awareness about the Workplace Stream were undertaken for the fiscal years 2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018 Calls for Proposals.

Further actions are being examined in fiscal year 2017 to 2018 to encourage small private sector enterprises participation to the Workplace Stream. Namely, the Office for Disability Issues will interact with other ESDC programs in finding solutions to the low uptake from the small business sector.

Recommendation 2:

It is recommended that Employment and Social Development Canada take steps to improve its data collection strategy.

Response

Management acknowledges the need to improve the Program data collection strategy, while striking a balance between organizational requirements and grant recipients reporting capacity. In collaboration with the Programs Operations Branch, the Office for Disability Issues will improve its current data collection strategy in fiscal year 2017 to 2018 by revisiting the project completion report template with an aim to make it more concise, in order to:

  • Limit the potential for data inconsistencies;
  • Address low response rate issues; and
  • Ensure the continued applicability of the data collected (alignment with the performance measurement strategy).

In addition, the Department will look at other ways to improve the response rate to questions of the project completion report and the quality of responses provided, by reviewing the process (timing and guidelines) by which the project completion report template is transmitted to funded organizations.

Finally, the EAF Program Policy Unit will review the data capturing methods and tools to identify potential efficiencies, while ensuring the integrity of the data collected is maintained.

1. Introduction

This report presents the findings and conclusions of the 2017 Evaluation of the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) program. In accordance with the Financial Administration Act and Treasury Board Policy on Results requirements, the program must be evaluated by December 31, 2017, a period of five years following the last evaluation of the program. This evaluation has the main objective of examining the role leveragingFootnote 1 has played in the various calls for proposals and lessons learned. The secondary objectives of this evaluation are to examine the ongoing need for the program; the effectiveness of the EAF (program outcomes) and to assess the challenges related to the implementation of its relatively new workplace funding stream.

This report provides a description of the program’s mandate, objectives, components and resources (Section 2); the evaluation strategy (Section 3); the evaluation’s key findings, lessons learned, conclusions and recommendations (Sections 4 to 7); the evaluation questions (Appendix A – Evaluation Logic Model); the evaluation design and methodology (Appendix B – Evaluation Matrix); the Methodology (Appendix C – Methodology); and a description of the four approved mid-sized projects (Appendix D – Mid-sized Projects).

2. Program description

Program objectives

The objective of the program is to support community based projects across Canada that improve accessibility, remove barriers, and enable Canadians with disabilities to participate in and contribute to their community and the labour market. Through grants and contributions, the program contributes to the capital costs of construction and renovation projects.

The expected outcomes of the EAF are (see Annex A – Logic Model for more details):

  • Recipient organizations have accessible facilities, technologies and transportation for the community and the workplace;
  • Increased access for people with disabilities to services, programs and employment opportunities; and
  • Increased opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in and contribute to community life.

Funding

The program was first announced in Budget 2007, with an initial funding budget of $45 million over three years. Budget 2010 provided an additional $45 million to extend the program for another three years. The program was extended on an ongoing basis in Budget 2013. Total annual program funding is $15 million. Of this amount, $13,650,000 is allocated annually to small and mid-sized projects through grants and contributions and the remaining amount of $1,350,000 (9% of total funding) is used to administer the program. Budget 2016 provided an additional $4 million in grants and contributions funding to the program over two years for at least 80 additional small community projects starting in fiscal year 2016 to 2017.

Program design

The program has two funding streams: the Community Accessibility Stream (Community Stream) and the Workplace Accessibility Stream (Workplace Stream). Competitive processes are usually held once a year to provide grant funding for small projects. The program also provides funding for mid-sized projects. Since the creation of the program in 2007, only one competitive process has been launched for the funding of mid sized projects in fiscal year 2010 to 2011. Eligible program recipients include not-for-profit organisations; municipalities, indigenous organizations; Territorial governments and for-profit organizations.

Community Stream

The Community Stream, introduced in 2007, is designed to provide funding for projects that enhance accessibility in community facilities and venues. Projects must be directly related to removing barriers and increasing accessibility for people with disabilities in Canadian communities.

Workplace Stream

The Workplace Stream, introduced in 2013, provides funding to eligible recipients for projects that improve accessibility and safety in workplaces across Canada for current or future employees. The objective of this stream is to provide greater opportunities for current or future employees with disabilities to obtain or maintain employment and participate in the labour market. Eligible projects must be directly related to maintaining or creating job opportunities for people with disabilities. These improvements must be addressed through renovation, construction and retrofit activities or through the provision of accessible technologies in facilities where people with disabilities work or could work in the future. Workplace projects are eligible for a maximum grant of $50,000.

Small and mid-sized projects

The small project component of the program provides grants for capital costs related to the retrofitting, renovation or construction of facilities or venues, retrofitting of vehicles for community or work use, and the provision of information and communication technologies to render communities and workplaces more accessible. Small projects are eligible for a maximum grant of $100,000, with an expected duration of up to 52 weeks but have traditionally been limited to $50,000 through Calls for Proposals.

The mid-sized project component of the program was introduced in 2010. It is designed to allow for communities to undertake larger retrofit projects that house services and programs that emphasize a holistic approach to the social and labour market integration needs of people with disabilities. Mid-sized projects are eligible for contributions of up to $3 million.

It should be noted that in the first years of the program, between 2007 and 2010, funding was also provided for major projects, intended for the construction of abilities centres. This component has not been renewed and no longer appears under the current program design.

3. Evaluation strategy

3.1 The 2012 EAF Evaluation

The main objective of the 2012 EAF Evaluation was to examine issues of relevance and performance of the EAF, including effectiveness, efficiency, and economy of the EAF small projects (grants under $50,000) component over the fiscal years 2007 to 2008 to 2009 to 2010. The evaluation identified a number of key findings under each of the main evaluation issues of relevance and performance:

Relevance

There is a clear need for the programming offered under the program. It aligns with federal government and departmental priorities and strategic outcomes as well as federal government’s roles and responsibilities.

Performance

The program’s activities are logically linked to its anticipated outcomes given that environmental factors influence the capacity of people with disabilities to participate as members of Canadian society. It was successful at supporting the installation of functioning accessibility structures. There was evidence to suggest that it increased accessibility to facilities and venues, programs, and services among people with disabilities. Many projects increased access to and therefore use of facilities by people with disabilities. There was also evidence to support the notion that the program has contributed to increased participation opportunities in community life by people with disabilities. Almost one-third of the completed EAF projects (31.6%) reported some improvement in programming, service, or activity accessibility. While there are few points of comparison to assess the efficiency of program delivery, funded organizations noted that the current structure of the program provides a strong incentive for recipients to use renovation funding in the most efficient way possible.

3.2 The 2017 EAF Evaluation

The objective of the 2017 Evaluation was to build on the 2012 summative evaluation. The Evaluation Directorate and the Office for Disability Issues agreed to a strategy that would enhance the knowledge base.

This evaluation has the main objective of examining the role leveraging played in the various calls for proposals and lessons learned. The secondary objectives of this evaluation are to examine the ongoing need for the program; the effectiveness of the EAF (program outcomes) and in particular the mid-sized projects, and to assess the challenges related to the implementation of its relatively new Workplace Stream.

More specifically, it focused on these elements for the following reasons:

  • The Workplace Stream was added in 2013. There were two Calls for Proposals (2013 and 2014) the latter of which yielded a small number of applications. The previous evaluation did not address the expansion of the program to include workplace accessibility as the Workplace Stream did not yet exist.
  • In 2011 and 2012 the Community Stream for small projects required for the first time that applicants leverage a minimum of 25% of total eligible project costs from non-federal government sources. The subsequent Community Stream Calls required 35% leveraging and the Workplace Stream 2013 pilot and 2014 CFPs required 50% leveraging. The subsequent introduction of the mandatory leveraging requirements was not scoped into the previous evaluation.
  • Since the introduction of the mid-sized project component in 2010, four recipient organizations were awarded $10M in total funding to implement their projects between 2011 and 2013. On average, $2.5M was awarded for each project. This component was not evaluated during the 2012 evaluation since these projects were not completed in time to measure observable results. The effects of mid-sized projects funding on community buildings that house services and programs that emphasize a holistic approach to the social and labour market integration needs of people with disabilities are unknown.

Evaluation scope

Overall there were nine evaluation questions addressing the issues of relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of the EAF (see Appendix B – Evaluation Matrix). The period covered under this evaluation was from 2009 to 2015 and included funded projects from across the country. Outcomes for all Community Stream projects and Workplace Stream projects covered the period between 2011 and 2015. The leveraging component focused on the Community Stream and covered the period between 2009 and 2015.

Methodology

The data collection consisted of three methodologies (see Appendix C – Methodology for more details) that included:

  • A review of program documents and project files.
  • Key informant interviews with ESDC National Capital Region program administrators and external stakeholders (funded and non-funded community and workplace recipient organizations and mid-sized project recipients).
  • Administrative data captured from application documents in the Common System for Grants and Contributions (CSGC)Footnote 2 and project completion reports.

Data limitations

The CSGC is in place to manage the project lifecycle and to store administrative documents such as project applications, funding agreements and final project completion reports. The collection of this information is carried out by ESDC’s Program Operations Branch, which provides the EAF with operational support.

Evaluators relied on the final project completion reports as the primary source of administrative data for reporting on outcomes. These reports were administered for each of the Calls between 2011 and 2015. The reports are stored as documents in the CSGC. They are the primary source of information for the ongoing monitoring of program performance and corporate reporting. However in order to do so, program officials manually entered data from what amounted to over 2,000 documents into their own Excel database.

There were variations regarding the data collected in the final report templates from one Call for Proposals to another. Depending on the variables, the data was available for the 2011 to 2015, or it was only for available for specific years. For example, in some cases, data was only available for 2012 while in other instances it was available for 2014 and 2015. The reader is urged to note these nuances when interpreting the evidence presented in the report.

4. Efficiency and economy - Leveraging

The main objective of this evaluation was to examine the role leveraging played in the various calls for proposals and highlight lessons learned. This section presents the resulting effects of the leveraging requirement for small projects from the Community Stream. This stream provided the best basis for analysis of the leveraging requirement because:

  • It is the largest component of the program with 5,888 applications of which 2,113 were approved; and
  • It was subjected to three distinct leveraging rates (zero, 25% and 35%) over six Calls for Proposals between 2009 and 2015.Footnote 3

Comparatively, the Workplace Stream had a small number of applications and approved projects (32 of 126 were approved) and maintained the same leveraging rate of 50% during the scope of this evaluation. This stream did not lend itself well to any pre/post analysis; however, some evidence is presented regarding the experiences of those who did receive funding.

Supporting evidence was drawn from three lines of evidence: the program’s administrative data available at the time of evaluation, key informant interviews and program documents.

4.1 Background

The leveraging requirement was introduced under the EAF Community Stream (small projects), following the Budget 2011 announcement which noted:

« The Government will take steps to complement community efforts by encouraging the development of government/community partnerships, enabling communities to tackle local challenges and testing new approaches to improve performance. »

At that time, ESDC wanted to explore different funding approaches with its existing programs. Leveraging, it seemed, would allow expanding the number of projects that can be funded with the available money. It could also be a tool for demand management in an oversubscribed program such as the EAF.

In 2011, the program’s Community Stream required for the first time that applicants leverage a minimum of 25% of total eligible project costs from non-federal government sources. It was subsequently increased to 35% for the 2014 and 2015 call for proposals.

In 2013, when the Workplace Stream was introduced, the required leveraging rate for this stream was initially set at 50%, but was subsequently reduced to 35%, in the 2016 Call for Proposals.Footnote 4

4.2 Lessons learned about leveraging

Many trends emerged since ESDC’s policy on leveraging was applied to the program’s Community Stream (small projects). This section presents some lessons learned as a result of implementing the mandatory minimum leveraging requirement. The lessons were primarily drawn from the Community Stream applicant’s experiences with leveraging.

Demand management of EAF applications

Since the introduction of the leveraging requirement, the number of funding applications received decreased by almost 50% or from 2,265 to 1,149 (see Figure 1). This seems to indicate the efficacy with which the policy tool of leveraging is working to manage demand. It seems plausible that, when the leveraging requirement reached 35%, some organizations may not have applied. It may be that they did not have the capacity to mobilize their own financial resources, or adequately fundraise, to meet the minimum leveraging requirement.

However, the ratio or gap between applications and approved projects closed significantly when the leveraging requirement reached 35%. When the leveraging requirements were zero and 25%, the proportion of approved projects was 20% and 30% of the total number of applications received, respectively. But when the leveraging requirement reached 35%, the proportion of approved projects was 78%.

Figure 1: Community Accessibility Stream applications received and approved, by leveraging requirement
Figure 1: Community Accessibility Stream applications received and approved, by leveraging requirement

Source: CSGC data. The leveraging requirements were zero for the 2009 and 2010 Calls, 25% for the 2011 and 2012 Calls and 35% for the 2014 and 2015 Calls.

Text description

Project applications received and approved Leveraging requirement
None 25% 35%
Project applications received 2,265 2,474 1,149
Projects approved for funding 467 753 893

The number of approved projects significantly increased from 467 to 893, or by 91%. Yet, the number of applicants significantly decreased by almost 50%, or from 2265 to 1149 which accounts for the narrowing of the gap. As the leveraging rate increased, the program funded a greater number of projects. This suggests that it may have reached a tipping point where any further increase in the leveraging rate may yield an insufficient number of applicants.

The situation under the Workplace Stream provides some additional insights as to what applicants can support under varying leveraging requirements. Under the 2013 Call for the Workplace Stream, small private-sector businesses and social enterprises were the two categories of eligible applicants.Footnote 5 The leveraging rate was set at 50% and contributions from the small private-sector organizations were accepted only in cash and not in-kind.

Under the 2013 and 2014 Calls, there were 16 and 10 small business applicants of which three and four were approved for funding respectively. It is plausible to infer that applicants from among the small private-sector organizations may have faced challenges in meeting the mandatory minimum leveraging requirement. Although it is possible there are other factors influencing the low take-up by small businesses. For example, some small businesses generally lease their office space and those buildings may already be accessible.

Greater accessibility capacity in Canadian society

When the leveraging rate reached 35%, the total project contributions amounted to $113.8M, up from $39.9M when there was no leveraging requirement (Table 1). This represents an increase of 185% spent on accessibility improvements translating into greater accessibility overall.

Table 1: Total contributions by type of funding source, by leveraging requirement
Funding source Leveraging requirement1
None 25% 35%
Amount % Amount % Amount %
Externe $19.9M 50% $41.1M 64% $88.4M 78%
ESDC $20M 50% $23.1M 36% $25.4M 22%
Total $39.9M 100% $64.2M 100% $113.8M 100%

Source: CSGC data

1The leveraging requirements were zero for the 2009 and 2010 Calls, 25% for the 2011 and 2012 Calls and 35% for the 2014 and 2015 Calls.

Similarly the proportion of ESDC’s overall funding contribution towards project costs declined following the introduction and subsequent increase of the leveraging requirement. It declined from 50 to about 22% overall. Once the leveraging rate reached 35%, the EAF funded a larger number of EAF projects (467 to 893) and the average project size increased from $86K to $127K.

The fostering of new partnerships before and after a project

The implementation of the leveraging requirement, and its rate increase over time, led to an increased representation of multiple funding sources. This requirement fostered relationships amongst external funding sources. In some cases, new partnerships were also forged after the completion of a project.

In the case where there was no leveraging requirement, ESDC covered 100% of a recipient organization’s project costs for 37% of the projects (Figure 2). Under each leveraging requirement, whether there is one source or more, the recipient organization itself may not necessarily be contributing towards its own project. In short, the sole source of funding for a project under each leveraging requirement may not necessarily be the recipient organization itself.

As the leveraging requirement increased over time, so too did the proportion of multiple project contributors. The number/proportion of projects with two or more external funding sources progressively increased from 71 (15%) to 149 (20%) and then to 220 (25%), as the leveraging rate went from zero, to 25 and 35%, respectively (Figure 2).

In many cases, however, the recipient organizations did not establish any new relationships/partnerships as a result of the leveraging requirement. Among the projects where the recipients said they did establish new partnerships, it was often the case that the accessibility improvements allowed new groups to use the now accessible facility. In this way, it was not new partnerships that led to the successful completion of projects but, instead, the successful completion of projects that led to new partnerships.

Figure 2: The representation of external funding sources by leveraging requirementFootnote 6
Figure 2: The representation of external funding sources by leveraging requirement

Source: CSGC data. The leveraging requirements were zero for the 2009 and 2010 Calls, 25% for the 2011 and 2012 Calls and 35% for the 2014 and 2015 Calls.

Text description

Funding sources Leveraging requirement
None 25% 35%
ESDC only 37% 0% 0%
1 48% 80% 75%
2 10% 15% 18%
3 or more 5% 5% 7%

Recipient organizations are increasingly participating in covering the costs of accessibility projects

Recipient organizations were asked to indicate in their project completion reports whether they or any other organization contributed funding towards their accessibility project. Their responses reflected whether they were contributors and not the proportion of funding they contributed. The evidence suggests that recipient organizations are increasingly financially implicated in contributing funds towards their own project since the introduction of the leveraging requirement. Non-profit and municipal organizations also increased their rate of participation but to a lesser extent than the recipient organizations.

Prior to the introduction of leveraging, 31% of the recipients indicated their own organization as a contributor towards covering their project’s costs. By the time the leveraging rate reached 35%, 59% of the recipient organizations indicated that they were a contributor (Figure 3).

Figure 3: External sources of contributions by leveraging requirement.Footnote 7
Figure 3: External sources of contributions by leveraging requirement.

Source: CSGC data. The leveraging requirements were zero for the 2009 and 2010 Calls, 25% for the 2011 and 2012 Calls and 35% for the 2014 and 2015 Calls.

Text description

Funding sources Leveraging requirement
None 25% 35%
Recipient organization 31% 48% 59%
Non-profit 18% 32% 28%
Municipal 13% 19% 18%

4.3 Workplace Accessibility Stream and leveraging

The social enterprise key informants were asked whether under the current leveraging requirement of the 2016 Call, a 35% leveraging requirement was reasonable. Most of the key informants believed it was reasonable but noted that meeting this requirement for a bigger and costlier project could be a challenge. Some were of the view that the 25% leveraging seemed more reasonable and that many organizations may feel more comfortable with it. Several interviewees also saw a benefit of the leveraging requirement: it made the recipients more accountable and committed to the successful completion of their project if they had to raise a proportion of their project costs.

5. Relevance and performance

This section presents the findings for the secondary objectives of this evaluation which include examining the ongoing need for the program; the effectiveness of the EAF (program outcomes) and in particular the mid-sized projects; and assessing the challenges related to the implementation of its relatively new Workplace Stream.

5.1 Relevance

This section presents the extent to which there is demand for assistance with capital costs for the purposes of improving accessibility for people with disabilities. Overall, the number of applications exceeds the number of approved projects. This suggests that communities and workplaces continue to require financial assistance for accessibility projects.

5.1.1. Community Accessibility Stream – Small and mid-sized projects

Small projects

The program received a total of 5,888 applications for small projects under the Community Stream between 2009 and 2015 (Table 2).Footnote 8 Overall, 36% of those applications (2,113) were approved between 2009 and 2015.

Table 2: Community Accessibility Stream applications received and approved by year
Small projects Year
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013Footnote 9 2014 2015 Total
Applications 1,196 1,069 1,061 1,413 n/a 490 659 5,888
Approved projects 168 299 192 561 n/a 434 459 2,113
Proportion approved 14% 28% 18% 40% n/a 89% 70% 36%

Source: ESDC Common System Grants and Contributions and EAF Project Completion Report database.

Mid-sized projects

In addition, there was a separate Call in 2010 for the mid-sized projects, where there were 355 applicants of which four projects were approved for funding.

5.1.2. Workplace Accessibility Stream

The program received a total of 126 applications under the Workplace Stream between 2013 and 2014 (Table 3). Twenty eight were approved in 2013 and 10 in 2014. In total, 25% of those applications (32) were approved and granted funding. The evidence indicates that there is greater demand for funding from social enterprises than from small businesses.Footnote 10

Table 3: Workplace Accessibility Stream applications received and approved by year
Projects by type of applicant Year Total
2013 2014
Social enterprises Small businesses Social enterprises1 Small businesses
Applications 100 16 0 10 126
Approved projects 25 3 0 4 32
Proportion approved 25% 19% 0% 40% 25%

Source: ESDC Common System Grants and Contributions and EAF Project Completion Report database.

1Social enterprises were no longer eligible to apply for funding under this stream in 2014.

5.2 Performance – Organizational profile and outcomes

This section presents findings on the program’s performance. It describes the characteristics of recipient organizations and the extent to which it achieved its expected outcomes for the Community Stream and the Workplace Stream.

5.2.1. Organizational profile

This section presents a brief profile of Community Stream and the Workplace Stream recipient organizations. Supporting evidence was drawn from the program’s administrative data. It was generated from 2009 to 2015 project files and project completion reports. In some cases, information was only available from project completion reports submitted by recipient organizations in 2012.

Between 2009 and 2015, a total of 1,040 of the Community Stream and Workplace Stream projects were in Ontario (49%). 19% (393) were completed in the Prairies; 13% (277) in British Columbia; 11% (247) projects in Quebec; 8% (183) in the Atlantic Provinces; and less than 1% (8) in the Territories.Footnote 11

In 2012, the majority (346) of Community Stream organizations that undertook an EAF funded project were non-governmental or not-for-profit organizations (62%) and 147 were municipalities (26%). Other organizations included 27 in the private sector (5%), six Indigenous governments/organizations (1%), and 13 colleges or universities (2%). As well 303 Community Stream projects were undertaken in urban centers (54%) and 236 (42%) were completed in rural communities.Footnote 12

5.2.2. Outcomes – Community Accessibility Stream and Workplace Accessibility Stream

This section presents the outcomes for the Community Stream and the Workplace Stream. The direct measurable expected outcome for the EAF is as follows:

  • Recipient organizations have accessible facilities, technologies and transportation for the community and the workplace.

The EAF’s intermediate shared outcome is to:

  • Increase access for people with disabilities to services, programs and employment opportunities.

Supporting evidence was drawn from the program’s administrative data available at the time of evaluation, key informant interviews (program officials, recipients) and program documents. The administrative data was generated from the project completion reports submitted by recipients between 2011 and 2015. Since the same information was not consistently gathered from year to year on these reports, evaluators noted the years for which data was available when reporting on outcomes. All key informant interviews with Workplace Stream recipients were from social enterprises and the evidence presented reflects their point of view. Evaluators were unable to conduct interviews with small for-profit businesses in spite of numerous attempts to contact them.

5.2.2.1. Community Accessibility Stream (small projects)

The direct expected outcome for the Community Stream was for recipient organizations to have accessible facilities, technologies and transportation for their community. Overall, the evidence presented below suggests that recipient organizations were more accessible for the community.

The administrative data suggests that the accessibility projects made modifications to the built environment and that in doing so the facilities and venues were more accessible for their community.Footnote 13 Fifty two percent of recipients indicated an improved usage of their respective facility and 19% noted an increase in the number of people utilizing their facility.

The program’s intermediate shared outcome is to increase access for people with disabilities to programs and services. Some evidence was available from the project completion reports suggesting that the EAF is achieving this outcome. Fifteen percent of recipients indicated an increase in the number of programs offered at their facility; and 19% reported that new organizations or groups were now utilizing space at their newly accessible facility.Footnote 14

5.2.2.2. Community Accessibility Stream (mid-sized projects)

The expected outcomes for the mid-sized projects are the same as those anticipated from small projects. Recipient organizations were expected to have accessible facilities, technologies and transportation for their community; and to increase access for people with disabilities to programs and services. Overall, the evidence presented below suggests that mid-sized project facilities were more accessible to people with disabilities. As well, access to programs and services was improved.

In 2010, the program funded four mid-sized projects, three in Ontario and one in Nova Scotia. The goals of these organizations consisted of improving the social participation of their respective clients in every aspect of Canadian society. They are as follows, (see Appendix D for complete descriptions):

  1. Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology (College) in Pembroke, Ontario.
  2. Community & Primary Health Care (CPHC) in Brockville, Ontario.
  3. Heartland Forest Nature Experience in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
  4. Dartmouth Adult Services Centre (DASC) in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

All of the mid-sized projects constructed new buildings in which they built ramps; installed elevators and automated power door-openers; widened doorways; and put in place accessible parking spaces and washrooms. Some of the projects installed elevators, accessible conference and training rooms, accommodation desks in classrooms, play structures and accessible landscape; and wireless sound systems/phone system for the hard-of-hearing.

The College reported that between 2013 and 2016, 74 self-identified people with disabilities accessed and were served in their new facility. The Community & Primary Health Care facility reported for the year 2014 an increase of 147 people with disabilities and/or their caregivers who were served or seen in their new facility. They also reported increases in 2015 and 2016 in their follow-up reports and estimated that 5000 people with disabilities will eventually be served at their new facility.

Project completion reports suggest that all organizations increased the number and the variety of programs/services offered to people with disabilities. For example, the College introduced new and expanded services and activities that were not previously available to people with disabilities in the Ottawa Valley region. Similarly, the Community & Primary Health Care facility increased their Adult Day program from four to five days per week since they relocated from the local hospital to their new Centre of Excellence. The new space offers a homier feel compared to a sterile hospital environment and removed misconceptions and fear associated with services provided in a hospital setting. A key informant from the Community & Primary Health Care facility noted that as a result of the new location, they established partnerships with different organizations from the community, such as a Parkinson’s disease group and a survival group. They promoted their facility by contacting an organization who had accessibility difficulties. Eventually word spread and more groups contacted them to use their facility.

A key informant from the Heartland Forest Nature Experience reported that approximately 50 people with disabilities had the opportunity to gain valuable experience in maintenance and reception services. In addition, the organization had the opportunity to hire 3 people with “significant” disabilities and to have more than 300 people with disabilities participating in various activities offered by their center. According to the interviewee, their project was game changing for individuals they served with various disabilities, including people with autism, brain injury or Parkinson’s disease.

5.2.2.3. Outcomes – Workplace Accessibility Stream

The direct expected outcome for the Workplace Stream was for recipient organizations to have accessible facilities, information and communications technologies and transportation; and to increase access for people with disabilities to employment opportunities. For the most part, the evidence presented below suggests that the projects opened up the possibility to hire people with disabilities. In some cases individuals were hired or the projects made it possible for people with disabilities to engage in economic activities.

The program launched two calls for proposals under the Workplace Stream, one in 2013 and the other in 2014. In general they targeted social enterprises and small private sector organizations with fewer than 50 employees and under $5M in gross revenue per year. Out of 126 applications, 32 projects were approved.

According to the administrative data gathered from the 2013 project completion reports, 79% of the completed workplace projects were for the renovation, retrofitting or construction of a facility, 14% were for information and communications technologies, and 11% were for the modification of vehicles for workplace use.Footnote 15 Most of the social enterprise key informants mentioned the following as among examples of accessibility measures they put in place: building a ramp to make the front entrance to the building accessible (or fixing a ramp to ensure it conformed to the building code requirements); installing automatic door-openers at the front entrance; and installing an elevator to make the upper-level of the building accessible (or installing a business grade chair-lift, if the building is too old to allow putting in an elevator).

Social enterprise key informants were asked if as a result of completing their respective accessibility project, they were able or plan to, hire people with disabilities. Many indicated that it has opened up the possibility to hire persons with disabilities. But, apart from attracting some volunteers with disabilities to their more accessible facilities, few recipients confirmed that they offered any employment to people with disabilities, or that they plan to do so in foreseeable future.

Some of the social enterprise key informants noted that making their workplace more accessible positively impacted employment opportunities for people with disabilities. In a few cases, it became possible to rent out the accessible portion to the general public when local events took place in the evenings, enabling people with disabilities to come in and work at the events at regular wage rates. Some actual hiring of people with disabilities also took place at these locations. In one case, a coordinator who has a disability is now able to attend the annual general meeting of the organization and be more productive. Finally, one of the projects allowed the placement of two people with disabilities and improved the potential employability for others.

In addition to employment opportunities being created, there were other benefits arising for these organizations. For example, one key informant noted an improvement in the morale of existing workers at the facility, and an improved public perception about that social enterprise: “Now it feels like a ‘community space’ and the local community feels welcome to come in: people with mobility issues, those with hearing and visual impairments, and a range of other disability issues can now relate better to this community space.” This is also supported by responses gathered from the 2013 project completion reports. The administrative data shows that almost two-thirds (64%) of the projects created a more inclusive work environment. As well, 61% noted an increase in workplace safety and/or a decrease in liability concerns in the workplace; 57% noted improved overall productivity and/or employee attendance; and 50% felt that the project led to a new appreciation for diversity in the workplace.Footnote 16

6. Conclusions

Building on the 2012 evaluation`s focus on the effectiveness, efficiency, and economy of the small project component outcomes, the 2017 evaluation had the main objective of examining the role leveraging played in the various calls for proposals and lessons learned. It was believed that the introduction of the minimum leveraging requirement could be used as a demand management tool; and that it would allow the program to expand the number of funded projects with the available money. The evidence presented in this report suggests that this objective was achieved.

Prior to the introduction of the mandatory minimum leveraging requirement and by the time it reached 35%, a number of findings emerged that include the following:

  • It improved demand management of project applications. The number of applications dropped by almost 50% from 2,265 to 1,149.
  • The program achieved greater results at a lower cost. The total project contributions increased almost threefold to $113.8M, up from $39.9M during which time ESDC’s inputs amounted to $25.4M, up marginally from $20.0M.
  • Accessibility capacity improved overall in Canadian society. The program is funding about 90% more projects going from 467 to 893; and the average project size increased by almost 48% going from $86K to $127K.
  • The program is fostering relationships amongst organizations that provide external funding sources where 25% of the projects cited 2 or more funding sources up from 15%. As well, new partnerships amongst non-profit organizations are also emerging after the projects are completed.
  • The incidence of recipient organizations contributing towards the costs of their project is increasing. They cited themselves as a funding source for 59% of the projects up from 31%.

The secondary objectives of this evaluation were to examine the ongoing need for the program; the effectiveness of the EAF (program outcomes) and in particular the mid-sized projects, and to assess the challenges related to the implementation of its relatively new Workplace Stream.

There is a need for the EAF program. The demand for EAF funds as reflected in the number of applications received exceeds the supply of available EAF funds for both the Community and Workplace Streams.

The evaluation findings suggest that the Community Stream (small-size and mid-sized) created more accessible facilities for people with disabilities. In addition, the Workplace Stream projects positively impacted employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Overall, the evidence suggests that the EAF program is achieving its intended outcomes in an efficient manner; however, there a few areas where improvements can be made, as reflected in the recommendations proposed by the Evaluation.

7. Recommendations

Firstly, under the 2014 Call for the Workplace Stream, the only eligible applicants for EAF funding were the small businesses, with the minimum leveraging requirement of 50%, acceptable in cash only.

The number of applicants from this stream was quite low, where under the 2013 Call there were 16 applicants and under the 2014 Call there were only ten. It seems plausible to infer that applicants from among the small businesses may have faced challenges in meeting the mandatory minimum leveraging requirements.

Recommendation 1:

It is recommended that Employment and Social Development Canada take steps to improve the representation of small private sector enterprises in the Workplace Accessibility Stream of the Enabling Accessibility Fund.

Secondly, much of the data collected from the project completion reports in the Excel data files are overall, valid and reliable, and updated regularly; but there are some inconsistencies and a high non-response rate for many of the questions. This leaves data gaps that affect the quality of data analysis for the purposes of the evaluation of the program. Secondly, the data is manually inputted into an Excel database, which requires a significant amount of resources.

Recommendation 2:

It is recommended that Employment and Social Development Canada take steps to improve its data collection strategy.

Appendix A – Logic model

Appendix A – Logic model

Text description

Appendix A presents a flow chart that illustrates the logic model of the Enabling Accessibility Fund program. It outlines, from top to bottom:

  1. the program’s ultimate outcome: people with disabilities have opportunities to participate in and contribute to community life
  2. its shared outcomes: accessible communities and workplaces which allow persons with disabilities to have access to programs, services and employment opportunities
  3. its direct outcomes: recipient organizations have accessible facilities, technologies and transportation for the community; and recipient organizations have accessible facilities, technologies and transportation for the workplace
  4. its expected outputs which are to fund projects based on call for proposal priorities and criteria
  5. its activities and processes such as: program promotion; administering grant and contribution funds; and program measurement and analysis.

The program can measure its direct outcomes, outputs and its activities and processes.

Appendix B – Evaluation matrix

EAF Evaluation questions

Relevance

  1. To what extent do communities and workplaces continue to require assistance with capital costs for the purposes of improving accessibility for people with disabilities?

    Line of evidence:

    • Administrative Data

Effectiveness

  1. What is the profile of recipient organizations?

    Line of evidence:

    • Administrative Data

  2. To what extent is the EAF reaching community and workplace recipient organizations?

    1. What factors influence reaching workplace organizations?
    2. How can reaching workplace organizations be improved?

    Line of evidence:

    • Key Informant Interviews;
    • Administrative Data

  3. To what extents do community recipient organizations have accessible facilities, technologies and transportation?

    1. Are people with disabilities continuing to access programs and services?
    2. Has there been an increase in people with disabilities accessing programs and/or services since the completion of the project?
    3. Has there been an increase in program and/or services offered to people with disabilities since the completion of the project?

    Line of evidence:

    • Administrative Data

  4. To what extent do the workplace recipient organizations have accessible facilities, technologies and transportation?

    1. Have improvements to accessibility in workplaces allowed an increase in employment opportunities for people with disabilities?
    2. Have recipients hired people with disabilities since the completion of their program?
    3. Have jobs been maintained by people with disabilities as a result of the completion of the project?

    Line of evidence:

    • Key Informant Interviews;
    • Administrative Data

  5. To what extent are the Mid-sized projects achieving their expected outcomes? How are they achieving them?

    Line of evidence:

    • Key Informant Interviews;
    • Document Review

Demonstration of efficiency and economy

  1. What role has leveraging played in the various Calls for Proposals over time?
    1. What was the impact on recipients and what challenges did they experience?
    2. How has the introduction of leveraging affected the number, type and nature of funded EAF projects?
    3. What are the lessons learned about leveraging?

    Line of evidence:

    • Key Informant Interviews;
    • Document Review;
    • Administrative Data

  2. Is the Performance Measurement Strategy generating valid and reliable performance data that support ongoing performance monitoring and decision making?
    1. Are adequate data collection and reporting systems in place to support the summative evaluation?

    Line of evidence:

    • Key Informant Interviews;
    • Document Review;
    • Administrative Data

  3. What are the best practices and lessons learned with respect to efficiently delivering the program? What where the challenges? What improvements could be made?

    Line of evidence:

    • Key Informant Interviews;
    • Document Review

Appendix C – Methodology

Introduction

The following presents the methodologies used for the Evaluation of the EAF program. This Appendix describes the scope of the evaluation, data sources, data collection methods and constraints and limitations.

Scope and breadth

This evaluation is outcomes based and examined the period covering April 2011 to June 2015. It focused on the issues and questions identified in Appendix B and the evaluation is national in scope.

Methodologies

The following methods were used to respond to the evaluation questions. All methods were carried out in-house by ESDC Evaluation Directorate staff.

  • Document and file review - This included previous evaluation final report and program documentation and project files provided by the program.
  • Administrative data - Program performance data was generated from the CSGC database and an in-house database (Excel database). Data captured included information from the Project Recipient Application Forms and project completion reports between 2012 and 2015.
  • Key informant interviews – Interviews were carried out by telephone or in-person. Respondents included program officials from ESDC National Capital Region (n=10). It included randomly sampled respondents from funded Workplace Stream recipients (n=13) of which all were social enterprises and none were small businesses; and small and mid-sized Community Stream recipients (n=17). Interviews were carried out by ESDC evaluators between January and March 2017.

Analysis

The data analysis strategy included the triangulation of multiple lines of evidence. The table below describes the proportional and frequency terms used in the report to quantify the extent of agreement amongst interview respondents to specific questions and issues.

Proportional and frequency terms
Proportion terms Frequency terms Percentage range
All Always 100%
Almost all Almost always 80 to 99%
Many / Most Often, usually 50 to 79%
Some Sometimes 20 to 49%
Few Seldom 10 to 19%
Almost None Almost never 1 to 9%
None Never 0%

Constraints and limitations

Since there were variations in the final report templates used to collect administrative data on the projects from one Call for Proposal to another, during the evaluation reference period, analysis of performance information from the differing final report templates presented challenges for compiling and comparing performance information over time. Where possible, efforts were made to standardize/harmonize the performance information contained in each of the templates.

Appendix D – Mid-sized projects

  1. The Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology (College) in Pembroke, Ontario. The College completed the construction of a 99,474 sq. foot multi-story building. The new building can accommodate up to 1,000 students. It is completely barrier-free and compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The student Common Area includes a fully-accessible quiet study area, student lounge, prayer room, and various facilities to address the needs of a diverse and growing student population. The new campus has larger classrooms equipped with technologies that are required to support new teaching and learning methods.
  2. The Community & Primary Health Care (CPHC) in Brockville, Ontario. The new facility brings together all CPHC programs and services from 7 local sites. The 23,806 sq. foot building has fully accessible rooms and corridors for those with mobility, visual or hearing impairments. The CPHC is committed to provide a number of programs/services to a wide range of individuals with varying nature and types of disabilities. They include an Alzheimer Outreach Program, Diabetic education, Adult Day Service, caregiver training and support, ‘Diners Club’, Mobile Primary Health Care Unit, the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness and a number of immunization and screening clinics.
  3. Heartland Forest Nature Experience in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The new 14,000 sq. foot Nature Centre provides year-round access to people of all abilities, including those with learning and intellectual disabilities. Their mission is to provide an interactive nature experience for people of all ages and abilities through recreational and educational programs such as: Forest Discovery Programming, Summer Adventure Camp, Accessible Woodworking Shop, and Study Tours.
  4. Dartmouth Adult Services Centre (DASC), Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The centre is located in a fully accessible 26,600 sq. foot facility equipped with a FM loop system, a Snoezelen room, and windows with special glazing. The centre Association promotes the full integration of adults with intellectual disabilities in the social and economic aspects of society by providing employment and day programs in a barrier-free environment.
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