Ontario Expanding Employment Supports for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities

Ontario Expanding Employment Supports for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities

$3 million investment over three years will help build a skilled and inclusive workforce

December 03, 2021

Colleges and Universities

Table of Contents

  1. Content
  2. Quick Facts
  3. Related Topics

OTTAWA – The Ontario government is investing an additional $3 million over three years in the David C. Onley Initiative to build capacity of postsecondary institutions across Ontario to prepare students with disabilities to transition into the workforce. This investment will help extend supports to more learners through the creation of an online toolkit, providing a comprehensive roadmap that more institutions can use to help students with disabilities.

“On this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we recognize that the pandemic has heightened barriers for an already vulnerable population who face increased difficulties connecting with employers and the job market,” said Goldie Ghamari, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. “This investment will help take the valuable learnings from the original David C. Onley Initiative and support institutions in localizing resources to help transition students with disabilities into employment – contributing to a skilled, more inclusive workforce.”

The David C. Onley Initiative launched in 2018-19 as an applied research project led by Carleton University, in partnership with the University of Ottawa, La Cité and Algonquin College. Their work has helped employers become more inclusive and strengthen their businesses by leveraging diversity as a competitive edge in the marketplace, setting students with disabilities on a path towards fulfilling careers. Actions have included:

  • Launching the AbleTo campaign to encourage employers to make workplaces accessible for employees with disabilities and support students and graduates with disabilities as they move into the workforce
  • Coordinating workshops and accessible career showcase events for students with disabilities so they can explore job options with inclusive employers
  • Facilitating recruitment opportunities and providing online resources like guidebooks, tip sheets and webinars to support job seekers, service providers, students and employers
  • Piloting innovative strategies at postsecondary institutions to actively foster the growth and accessible opportunities for students with disabilities in career preparation and employability skills

“Since 2018, Carleton University and the partner institutions have done a terrific job of supporting students and graduates with disabilities in Ottawa to find meaningful employment,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Through this initiative, we are leveraging key talent to help to overcome critical labour shortages and strengthen our economy.”

“It is vital to empower students with disabilities as they prepare to enter the workforce,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “Transitioning from postsecondary education into employment is a major milestone. Institutions, employers and government must work together to remove barriers as students with disabilities plan their path to the workforce and to help position them for career success.”

“Carleton is committed to being the most accessible campus in Canada,” said Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Carleton’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “This investment will allow the university to continue to help graduates with disabilities enter and succeed in the working world.”

Quick Facts

  • December 3 is recognized annually as the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme focuses on leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.
  • David Charles Onley is a former journalist who served as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 2007 until 2014 and has made significant contributions to the advancement of disability issues in Canada.
  • Ontario has provided a total of $5 million since the inception of the David C. Onley Initiative. The new investment of $3 million over three years will ensure the initiative receives funding until 2023-24.
  • Between 2009-2010 and 2019-20, the number of registered students with disabilities increased by more than 132 per cent, while total enrolment increased by 8.3 per cent.
  • In 2019-20, nearly 95,000 postsecondary students were registered with Offices for Students with Disabilities at publicly assisted colleges and universities.
  • Financial aid for postsecondary students with disabilities is available through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). This funding helps students with their disability-related educational costs (e.g., services and equipment such as braille displays and assistive listening devices).
  • Ontario is working to create a more inclusive and accessible province through its Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework.

Related Topics

Education and Training

Learn about Ontario’s early years, education and training systems. Includes information on child care, elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges, universities, skills training and financial aid. Learn more