Backgrounder: Opportunities Fund enhancements support recruitment and retention of persons with disabilities


The Government of Canada is investing approximately $18 million over six years to better support employers who have a demonstrated commitment to hiring persons with disabilities, but who need support to find the right match and to create workplaces that allow employees with disabilities to reach their full potential.

Persons with disabilities are talented and capable, but many lack the opportunity and the enabling environment to demonstrate what they can achieve.  In particular, while many small- and medium-sized employers recognize the benefits of a diverse workforce that includes persons with disabilities, they often lack the knowledge and capacity to effectively recruit and retain them.

The new funding, starting in 2018‑2019, will expand the existing Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities (OF) to better support activities in two areas:

  1. Matching services that connect employers and persons with disabilities: While the Opportunities Fund helps persons with disabilities develop the skills and knowledge they require to meet the needs of today’s economy, more can be done to connect employers with available job-seekers.
  2. Helping businesses develop effective recruitment and retention strategies: The Opportunities Fund will work with employers by supporting their efforts to create inclusive workplaces and to develop and implement in-house strategies to effectively recruit, accommodate and retain persons with disabilities.

The new investments will help to improve employment outcomes for persons with disabilities by directly addressing the needs of employers, creating more opportunities for persons with disabilities to become active participants in Canada’s labour force and further strengthen the middle class.


  • In 2016‑2017, 4,630 persons with disabilities were served through Opportunities Fund programming with 2,142 clients finding employment, 343 returning to school and 3,195 enhancing their employability.
  • Participation in the OF also results in a number of non-quantifiable benefits, including:
    • development of transferable workplace essential and soft skills;
    • improvement of overall well-being, attitudes, behaviours and motivation;
    • increase in self-esteem, pride, self-confidence and sense of self-worth; and
    • networking opportunities, and decreased social isolation and stigmatization.
  • The last call for proposals closed in March 2018.
  • Organizations that submitted proposals will be notified of the results of this call for proposals as soon as possible.


  • The Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities is a $40 million per year federal employment program that assists persons with disabilities to prepare for, obtain and maintain employment, thereby increasing their economic participation and independence
  • The program was launched in 1997 and is designed to fill a gap in federal supports for persons with disabilities not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits or EI-funded training support.
  • The Opportunities Fund supports persons with disabilities who self-identify as having a permanent physical or mental impairment restricting their performance of daily activities. The program is inclusive, providing supports across disability types.
  • Projects are delivered through contribution agreements with service providers, who design and deliver programming at the national and regional levels.
  • Organizations eligible to apply and receive funding include not-for-profit organizations, municipal governments, indigenous organizations, for-profit organizations, and provincial/territorial governments, institutions, agencies and Crown corporations.
  • Opportunities Fund projects are national (more than three provinces/territories) or regional (within a single province/territory) in scope.
  • Participant-focused Skills and Employment projects provide supports and services‑such as pre-employment training, self-employment or work-experience activities‑to persons with disabilities who are seeking work.
  • A separate Working with Employers stream supports activities that build awareness of the advantages of hiring persons with disabilities and encourage inclusive hiring.

Page details

Date modified: