Resources Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic
for persons with disabilities

We hope that you and your family are safe and well during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

To support you through this difficult time, please find below a list of resources and information related to the COVID-19 pandemic for persons with disabilities. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list, and we encourage you to check with your community for additional resources. 

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Resources and Information Related to COVID-19 Pandemic 

General Resources


  1. As part of CSA Group’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CSA Research worked with the University of Toronto and many diverse experts to develop a guide for employers planning to reopen their workplaces to staff. This research report combines current recommendations and statistics (Part A) with a best-practice guide (Part B) to better resource HSE, HR and management to reopen and protect staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aimed at both large and small organizations, the findings are categorized in three areas for guidance and best practice: physical building systems, workplace organization structures and individual worker wellbeing. For more information, please download and read the report here: Workplaces and COVID-19: Occupational Health and Safety Considerations for Reopening and Operating During the Pandemic


  2. On March 26, 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) published Disability considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak (PDF).” The document includes actions for people with disabilities and their household, actions for governments, for health-care workers, for disability service providers, and for the community.


  3. Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) is working to give practical answers to the important questions that people are asking about the law relating to the COVID-19 situation. They are also sharing updates about changes to government programs and court services. Visit CLEO website for more information.


  4. InclusionNL is available to virtually support business partners/employers who need help with accessibility questions or if looking for accessible strategies for employees to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. See more details here (source: InclusionNL)


  5. Rick Hansen Foundation has compiled a variety of helpful resources for persons with disabilities during this COVID-19 outbreak. Resources include quick links to general COVID-19 information from the Government of Canada and Health Canada, safe shopping hours for persons with disabilities, information on financial assistance (i.e., Canada's new Emergency Care Benefit), and supports for your mental and emotional well-being.


  6. Webinar: Disability Inclusion in COVID-19 responses in the World of Work (March 18, 2020). Facilitated by the ILO Global Business and Disability Network, all interested stakeholders, including governments, workers' and employers' organisations as well as organisations of persons with disabilities participated in a webinar to share good practices on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the COVID-19 responses related to the World of Work.


  7. Disability Alliance BC has assembled a help sheet with a list of COVID-19 Supports and Programs to assist persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic who reside in Canada and particularly for those who reside in British Columbia. 


  8. UNICEF has released a resource on what we need to do ensure people with disabilities are included in the COVID-19 response. Learn more by reading COVID-19 response: Considerations for Children and Adults with Disabilities


  9. Include-Me.CA has developed a special COVID-19 section that includes the information on COVID-19 Financial Aid for people with disabilities, and other helpful resources.


Government Resources and Information


  1. COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group (CDAG) has developed a guidance document on COVID-19 and people with disabilities in Canada, to help inform on protecting persons with disabilities from COVID-19. This page provides information on the healthcare system and COVID-19, COVID-19 assessment centres, infection prevention and control measures and personal protective equipment, and mental health resources.  


  2. The Government of Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management in partnership with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario prepared an Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities / Special Needs. This guide provides special emergency preparedness considerations and advice for Ontarians with disabilities and/or special needs, including seniors with special needs.


  3. The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action by announcing the establishment of the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group (CDAG). The CDAG will advise the Minister on the real-time lived experiences of persons with disabilities during this crisis on disability-specific issues, challenges and systemic gaps and on strategies, measures and steps to be taken. Read Backgrounder: COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group by Employment and Social Development Canada.


  4. Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), the government body in charge of adminstering the occupational health and safety plan in Quebec, has provided questions and answers around COVID-19. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the CNESST was listed as a priority health and social services organization by the Québec government. Read more about COVID-19 information on the CNESST Q and A page.


  5. Government of Canada has announced an online tool, “Find financial help during COVID-19” to assist Canadians in accessing financial support (May 22, 2020). “Find financial help during COVID-19” was developed by the Canadian Digital Service, together with partners at Employment and Social Development Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency, and is part of a suite of online tools and resources the government has made available to help Canadians navigate this crisis with confidence.


  6. The Manitoba Government have published resources for Manitobians with disabilities and their families, including accessibility in the workplace during COVID-19, accessible goods and services, and links to additional resources.


  7. The Prime Minister has announced supports for Canadians with disabilities to address challenges from COVID-19. This support includes a special one-time, tax-free payment to individuals who are certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit as of June 1, 2020.


  8. The Government of Canada has made available a Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Information page that provides key information about COVID-19 and the current situation, resources to protect your health including a COVID-19 self-assessment tool, and available government supports. 


  9. Workers’ compensation changes to better support workers. BC Ministry of Labour - News Release, July 14, 2020. Changes to the Workers Compensation Act will provide better support to injured workers and their families and enhance WorkSafeBC’s ability to investigate workplace incidents, while keeping premiums low. This legislation will fast-track the effective date of presumptions if established by WorkSafeBC’s board of directors for occupational diseases caused by viral pathogens. This would ensure that people who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 at work are able to access benefits more quickly.


  10. Accessibility Standards Canada has released their first accessibility guidelines for COVID-19. These cover guidelines for working from home and returning to the workplace. While these guidelines target federally regulated organizations, they could also provide guidance to all Canadians in the context of the pandemic.


  11. The Government of Ontario has introduced Streamlined Employment Supports. The new system will combine employment programs from social assistance, such as Ontario Works Employment Assistance and Ontario Disability Support Program Employment Supports, into Employment Ontario to offer service improvements that will help workers and employers access the supports they need. June 10, 2021. Read the news release.


Protect Your Health


  1. The Canadian Disability Policy Alliance / Alliance Canadienne concernant les politiques reliées au handicap & Canadian Disability Participation Project have launched a free, telephone-based program to help people with physical disabilities to stay active, entitled Get in Motion. The program provides evidence-based activity coaching to people with a variety of physical disabilities, and is delivered through phone or video calls. Coaching includes: goal-setting, planning & scheduling, overcoming barriers, or finding physical activity resources. Visit the Canadian Disability Participation Program for more information.


  2. WorkSafe Saskatchewan has provided a list of tools to help those struggling to cope with COVID-19 or who would like more information about managing their mental health. Visit Managing your mental health through COVID-19: Tools to help you cope to learn more. 


  3. Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has compiled a list of resources and suggestions to help support your mental health at this time of uncertainty. Visit COVID-19: Mental Health and well-being for more information. 


  4. Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (Compliments of Canada Life) provides tools and resources to help improve psychological health and safety in your workplace, including a new app WellCan that supports the mental health of all Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resource is accessible, free and available to everyone in Canada to download in app stores. Visit their website to learn more about the app and other supports. 


  5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided ways you and your family can reduce stress during this coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Learn more on how to manage anxiety & stress from the CDC


Policy Briefs and Recommendations


  1. On September 23, 2020, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, delivered the Speech from the Throne to open the second session of the 43rd Parliament and outline the government’s agenda. The Speech from the Throne introduced a Disability Inclusion Plan, including a new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors, a robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities, and a better process to determine eligibility for Government disability programs and benefits. Read the Speech from the Throne: A Stronger and More Resilient Canada


  2. Minister Qualtrough announced new details on proposed financial support for persons with disabilities during COVID-19, July 17. The Government announced a series of measures to help Canadians with disabilities navigate the effects of the outbreak, including a one-time, tax-free, non-reportable payment of $600 to assist with additional expenses incurred during the pandemic.


  3. UN Secretary-General Policy Brief: A Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID-19 (PDF) (May 6, 2020). An integrated approach is required to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind in COVID-19 response and recovery. It calls for placing them at the centre of the response, participating as agents of planning and implementation. All COVID-19 related action must prohibit any form of discrimination based on disability and take into consideration the intersections of gender and age, among other factors. This is necessary effectively and efficiently to address and prevent barriers that may arise during response and recovery. 


  4. COVID-19 and People with Disabilities: Roundtable Discussion. MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance. Dalhousie University. Read the policy brief (PDF) and view the slides (PDF)​.


  5. Advocacy groups call on government to provide supports for persons with disabilities:


Journal Articles and Research


  1. Statistics Canada. The changes in health and well-being of Canadians with long-term conditions or disabilities since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. October 7, 2020
  2. Statistics Canada. Impacts of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities. August 27, 2020
  3. C.D. Howe Institute. Job search, new jobs, and what it means for future policy. August 12, 2020
  4. Stahl, C & MacEachen, E. Universal basic income as a policy response to COVID-19 and precarious employment: potential impacts on rehabilitation and return-to-work. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. August 2020
  5. Shaw, WS. Opening the Workplace After COVID-19: What Lessons Can be Learned from  Retrun-to-Work Research? Editorial. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. June 2020.
  6. Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). Survey Report. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians who are blind, deaf-blind, and partially-sighted. April 30, 2020.
  7. Kuper, H. Disability-inclusive COVID-19 response: what it is, why it is important and what we can learn from the United Kingdom’s response. Welcome Open Research. 2020.  
  8. Qi, F. Including people with disability in the COVID-19 outbreak emergency preparedness and response in China. Disability & Society. 2020.  
  9. Jalali, M. COVID-19 and disabled people: perspectives from Iran. Disability & Society. 2020.  
  10. Burdorf, A. The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic: consequences for occupational health. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2020;46(3):229-230.  
  11. The Conference Board of Canada. Working through COVID-19: employee benefits survey. 2020.


News and Stories 


  1. Docuseries gives inside look at Canadians with disabilities job hunting during the pandemic. CTV News. June 9, 2021
  2. Proposed law sets the stage for three days paid COVID-related sick leave in B.C. but critics say it's not enough. Vancouver Sun. May 11, 2021
  3. Ontarians show overwhelming support for paid sick days, polls find. The Star. April 22, 2021
  4. B.C. income and disability assistance to increase by $175 per month. CBC News. March 16, 2021
  5. New funding helps people with disabilities return to work. BC Gov News. January 18, 2021
  6. Ontario Unveils New Comprehensive Plan to Combat Poverty. Ontario Government Newsroom. December 16, 2020
  7. B.C. premier calls for increase to income assistance and disability payments. Vancouver Sun. December 15, 2020
  8. BC's COVID-19 income and disability assistance top-up will soon be cut in half. CBC. December 9, 2020
  9. Here’s hoping the new federal disability benefit adds up to basic income. Hamilton Spectator. November 13, 2020
  10. Too few Canadians with disabilities got tax-free COVID benefit, minister charges. iPolitics. November 5, 2020
  11. Putting the spotlight on National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Toronto Sun. October 18, 2020
  12. Strengthening Canada's disability community in a post-pandemic world. The Star. September 15, 2020
  13. Canada needs a national income program for people with disabilities. The Star. September 3, 2020. 
  14. Advocates say people with disabilities 'disproportionately' impacted by unemployment amid pandemic. CBC. August 28, 2020.
  15. COVID-19 puts people with disabilities at higher risk, advocates say. CTV News. July 4, 2020.
  16. PTSD, Anxiety, Burnout Rates Ranked High Among BC Nurses, Before COVID-19. BC Nurses' Union. June 24, 2020
  17. Opinion: Many Canadians with disabilities shut out of pandemic funding. Calgary Herald. June 17, 2020
  18. Opposition parties kill bill with one-time, tax-free payment of up to $600 for Canadians with disabilities. Canada's National Observer. June 11, 2020.
  19. People with disabilities forgotten amid COVID-19 pandemic, advocates say in plea for federal support. The Star. May 31, 2020. 
  20. Coronavirus: Manitoba to give $4.6M in support to low-income people with disabilities. Global News. May 26, 2020.
  21. 'I need help': Coronavirus highlights disparities among Canadians with disabilities. Global News. May 6, 2020. 
  22. Legislated paid sick leave is long overdue. Policy Note. May 4, 2020.
  23. Why social distancing is a challenge for the blind, and what can be done about it. Medical Xpress. April 29, 2020.
  24. We have been disabled: How the pandemic has proven the social model of disability. Forbes. April 29, 2020.
  25. How Ottawa pressed the provinces not to claw back pandemic benefits. The Star. April 28, 2020.
  26. Covid lockdown opening up world for people with disabilities. The Guardian. April 20, 2020.
  27. COVID-19's isolated world is the norm for people with disabilities. World Economic Forum. April 7, 2020.
  28. UBC students volunteer their time to fight against COVID-19. The Ubyssey. March 24, 2020. Health care professionals working on the front lines of the health care system are getting help from UBC medical students.