In 2013, there were approximately 46,700 students enrolled in Ontario colleges and universities that had a reported disability. Every post-secondary institution across the province has resources allocated to helping these people make the most of their education and prepare them to make the transition into the working world, however small businesses can be reluctant to hire young people with disabilities. Now through Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s “OCC Abilities Connect” program, companies that are willing to hire these students and recent graduates may access the growing talent pool that exists, in addition to leveraging Ontario government grants to provide training and relevant job experience.
OCC Abilities Connect Government Grants for Small Business
The OCC Abilities Connect program has two different streams to better meet the needs of small businesses. Whether your business already employs people with disabilities or is seeking to do so for the first time, there is an Ontario government funding program that will work for you.
Valuing Ability Employment Stream
There are currently young people with disabilities seeking to improve their employability and career trajectory by obtaining meaningful and valued work. The Valuing Ability Employment stream will assist employers in creating this position (full-time or co-op) and providing a safe work environment for students and recent graduates with disabilities. Businesses may recover up to 75% of the training costs, while not-for-profits may receive 90% (up to $20,000) in government grant funding for up to four people with self-identified disabilities. In order to be eligible, employers must:
- Identify an employee they wish to hire;
- Provide meaningful work experience (work functions required for organization’s success); and
- Must provide full-time or co-op employment for a minimum four months.
Valuing Ability Workplace Solutions Stream
Alternately, the Workplace Solutions stream seeks to assist employers by providing up to 60% of costs for private organizations, or 90% of costs for non-profits (up to a maximum $3,000) for activities such as:
- The purchase workplace assistive devices (such as voice activated and TTY telephones, modified workplace furniture, screen reading software, computer keyboard adaptations, etc.); and
- Providing specialized training and support assessments (up to $500) for new or current employees.
Projects not eligible to receive funding under this stream include:
- Structural changes and modifications to physical plants;
- Costs associated with the compliance of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act;
- Renovations to workplaces;
- Retrofitting transportation devices and motor vehicles; and
- Equipment for personal or recreational use.
Apply for Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Abilities Connect Program
While companies and not-for-profits may complete applications for the OCC Abilities Connect program themselves, if you would like to confirm your eligibility, contact Mentor Works today. Discover the Mentor Works Advantage to learn how we’ve helped many clients to obtain both provincial and federal government funding.
Ontario Government Grants for Hiring New Employees
The province of Ontario provides several government grants and loans that will assist your business to hire and train new employees. By using Mentor Works’ Wage Subsidy Identifier tool, you’ll discover all of the options which will allow your business to hire and retain top talent. Let us teach you all of the ways that you can leverage Canadian government grants and loans by registering for a free small business funding webinar, or sign up for our newsletter for the week’s best funding news.