Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap
To ask the Acting Minister for Social and Family Development
(a) what is the current prevalence rate of people with disabilities (PWDs) in Singapore;
(b) what is the number of PWDs in full-time and part-time employment respectively;
(c) how many companies and PWDs have benefited from the Open Door Fund and how much was disbursed each year since the Fund was launched;
(d) what are the schemes available for PWDs to undergo job retraining to keep them economically viable and how many PWDs have benefitted from them in the past five years;
(e) what efforts have been made to improve public transport facilities for PWDs; and (f) what are the available schemes or grants for taxi costs for PWDs.
About 3% of our resident population have some form of disability, ranging from mild to severe. Some were born with a disability, while others had acquired a disability though illness, accidents or old age. We do not have definitive data on the number of persons with disability in full-time and part-time employment.
The Government provides support for the training and employment of persons with disabilities. We fund special education (SPED) schools. MOE has also introduced vocational education in selected SPED schools while the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) has introduced Centres of Training and Integration.
The Government also provides support to employers that hire persons with disabilities. The Open Door Fund encourages employment opportunities by providing funding to defray cost for apprenticeship, workplace modification, job re-design and job support. Since it started in 2007, 220 companies have offered job opportunities under the scheme, and this has benefited 650 persons with disabilities. To date, the Government has funded $3.2 million. In February this year, we also extended the Special Employment Credit to employers who hire persons with disabilities. This has already benefited some 1,200 employers who hired close to 2,000 persons with disabilities.
We have made effort to enhance public transport accessibility for persons with disabilities. We are creating at least one barrier-free route in all MRT and LTR stations and making 95% of all bus shelters barrier-free. We have also made it mandatory for all new public buses, registered from June 2006 onwards, to be wheelchair-accessible. As of today, 54% of our public bus fleet are wheelchair-accessible. We aim to reach 100% by 2020. By mid 2013, there will be up to 30 new taxis on the road that can accommodate larger, high-back wheelchairs. These are funded under MSF’s Wheelchair-Accessible Taxi Grant. Persons with disabilities who are working or studying may also apply for financial assistance for their transport needs from funds such as the LTA Cares Fund and Trailblazer-Chan Chiew Ping Special Schools Fund.