Helping young Canadians with disabilities learn lasting skills and keep quality jobs

News release

June 1, 2021              Toronto, Ontario              Employment and Social Development Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on all Canadians, and young people—particularly young people with disabilities—have been especially affected. That is why the Government of Canada continues to make historic investments to ensure that they have the supports and opportunities needed to build long and successful careers.

As we celebrate National AccessAbility Week, it is important to recognize the many contributions that Canadians with disabilities have made and continue to make in our communities, and we need to ensure that they have the tools they need to succeed now and into the future.

Today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Member of Parliament for Don Valley West, Rob Oliphant, highlighted that the Government of Canada is investing over $130 million to provide young people facing barriers with good jobs and the supports and skills training they need to join the workforce.

Across the country, 59 organizations funded through Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) program are delivering 61 projects that will serve close to 10,000 young people, including youth with disabilities.

One such organization, the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work, is providing tailored skills training and employment services to more than 400 young Canadians with disabilities through two projects called Youth the Future. Participants in St. John’s, Halifax, Moncton, Montréal and the Greater Toronto Area will receive services that will help them improve their skills and find quality work and will prepare them to obtain and keep employment.

Supporting youth and ensuring their inclusion in all aspects of Canada’s economic recovery takes a collaborative and dynamic approach. Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada committed an additional $5.7 billion over the next five years to help young Canadians pursue and complete their education, acquire new skills and get hired. This is on top of the $7.4 billion already invested to support young Canadians during the pandemic. Thousands more young Canadians will be able to benefit from the government’s historic support for:

  • 30,600 new jobs through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy in 2021–2022;
  • 220,000 jobs through Canada Summer Jobs over the next two years;
  • an expected 50,000 work-integrated learning opportunities through the Student Work Placement Program in 2021–2022;
  • at least 85,000 work-integrated learning placements through Mitacs over the next five years starting in 2021–2022; and
  • 28,000 training and work opportunities for young Canadians through the Canada Digital Technology Adoption program.

Join us during National AccessAbility Week to celebrate the many contributions made by young Canadians with disabilities in our communities. When barriers to accessibility and inclusion are removed, it gives Canadians with disabilities the opportunity to participate more fully, helping our communities thrive and our economy prosper, so that all Canadians benefit.


“Employment is a gateway to independence, financial stability and inclusion. It has never been more important to support the need for meaningful and equitable employment for persons with disabilities, especially young Canadians with disabilities. This funding will go a long way in supporting our youth with disabilities and breaking down barriers to access and inclusion in workplaces.”
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

“During AccessAbility week, it is important that we recognize the important contributions of people with disabilities in workplaces across Canada. Getting training and jobs for people with disabilities benefits not only the workers, but businesses, organizations and institutions who hire them. Inclusive workplaces are better places for everyone to work and to do business with. Since 1976, the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work has been creating opportunities for people with disabilities to gain meaningful employment. By providing substantive opportunities for people with disabilities, we can continue to build a more accessible and disability-inclusive Canada."
–Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament for Don Valley West, Rob Oliphant

“We are enthusiastic to see Canada rebound with strength during the recovery from COVID-19 to ensure inclusion of all people with disabilities, by recognizing the talent that is in our communities. We are supportive of the Disability Inclusion Action Plan set forth by the federal government, and we are pleased to bring all the work from the Disability and Work in Canada initiative to help shape the federal employment strategy for people with disabilities. While it is a week of celebration, we recognize how COVID-19 has unmasked the tiered support to our communities and how much more work we need to do to ensure that meaningful and equitable employment is realized for people with disabilities in Canada. With the funding from YESS, the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work is confident we will be able to continue to move the needle for employment for youth in Canada.”
– Maureen Haan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work 

Quick facts

  • Data from Statistics Canada indicates that youth with disabilities (aged 15 to 24) had an employment rate of 55% before the COVID-19 pandemic, and 39% in July 2020.

  • In April 2020, the Government of Canada invested $492 million over three years, through ESDC’s YESS program, for 269 projects across Canada to help young people facing barriers to employment to successfully transition to the labour market.

  • More than 150,000 Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) opportunities have been made available to young Canadians as of April 26, 2021. CSJ offers opportunities in a wide variety of fields, including community and charity work, food industries, recreation and fitness, marketing and public relations, landscaping and farm labour, and many others.

  • To support youth employment regional projects in the province of Quebec, the governments of Canada and Quebec signed a contribution agreement in August 2019, through which the Government of Quebec will receive approximately $135 million over five years from ESDC’s YESS program for projects that exclusively benefit youth in the province of Quebec. A call for proposals was launched by the Government of Quebec in February 2020 to identify projects to be supported through this and other provincial investments to support youth skills and employment.

  • To support youth affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada announced in April and June 2020 increased funding by up to $187.7 million to the YESS program to create 9,500 more work opportunities for young Canadians, particularly those facing barriers to employment. YESS projects managed by ESDC received up to $40 million for national and regional programs that are providing flexible supports and targeted job opportunities for up to 6,200 youth aged 15 to 30, which surpasses the initial target of 4,700 jobs, in the areas of social support services, transport, information technology, research and administration, and other placements that support community needs.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Marielle Hossack
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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