COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group will continue to help guide Government action on disability inclusion

News release

December 4, 2020              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the long-standing barriers Canadians with disabilities have faced for decades. Since the start of the pandemic, many have faced higher costs in accessing food, medication, social services or health care. To ensure an inclusive approach to its pandemic response and overall decision-making, the Government of Canada created the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group (CDAG) in April 2020.

Today, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, welcomed the Group’s
final report and announced that it would be renewed.

The CDAG will build on previous work advising the Minister with a renewed focus on:

  • promoting disability inclusion and targeting barriers to the full participation of Canadians with disabilities in specific areas, based on Government of Canada priorities and the Minister’s mandate; and,
  • the implementation of Government of Canada programs and initiatives related to the Minister’s disability inclusion and accessibility mandate.

The Government remains committed to a disability inclusive approach that continues to reflect the principle of ‘Nothing Without Us’ beyond the pandemic. In its recent Speech from the Throne, the Government announced the first-ever Disability Inclusion Action Plan, that includes a new Canadian Disability Benefit, improved processes for eligibility for federal disability programs and benefits, and a robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities.


Canadians with disabilities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and are at greater risk due to health, economic, and social conditions. This is why it was essential for the Government to get expert advice on the lived experiences of persons with disabilities in real-time. The COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group provided valuable advice and I am grateful for their views and commitment. I look forward to continuing this important work with them”.

- Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

Quick facts

  • Co-chaired by Minister Qualtrough, the CDAG is comprised of 11 experts from the disability community, who provide advice on the real-time lived experiences of persons with disabilities. The group contributed to the development of Government COVID-19 supports and measures by:

    • providing input to disability inclusive medical and public health guidelines, and ensuring that clear Personal Protective Equipment could be procured; 
    • advising on broadening the reach of the one-time payment to persons with disabilities, which the Government expanded to include recipients of the Canada Pension Plan Disability, Quebec Pension Plan Disability Pension, and disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada; 
    • ensuring communications from the Government of Canada were accessible; and,  
    • ensuring other key Government measures like the Canada Emergency Student Benefit and the doubling of the Canada Student Grants for o    students with disabilities applied a disability lens. 
  • Additional experts from the disability community may be invited to become members of CDAG at the discretion of the Minister.  

  • According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, 22 percent of Canadians 15 years of age and over identify as having a disability. That rate goes up with age with 37.8 percent of Canadians over 65 and 47.4 percent over 75.

  • Among working-age Canadians with disabilities, more than 1.5 million, or 41 percent, are unemployed or out of the labour market entirely; among those with severe disabilities this rate increases to over 60 percent.

  • The Government of Canada is committed to supporting persons with disabilities in line with the principles and objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Accessible Canada Act, which received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019, and came into force on July 11, 2019.

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For media enquiries, please contact:
Marielle Hossack
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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