Federal action on employment for people who have a disability
New panel will identify successes and barriers
Wednesday August 1, 2012 -- Kristian Partington
Some of the key leaders of the movement to create more inclusive workplaces in Canada have been called into action by the federal government with the establishment of the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
With a focus in the private sector, the panel seeks to identify pockets of success in the labour market where people who have a disability have found and retained meaningful employment.
In addition to spotlighting best practices that lead to success, the panel will also identify the barriers and obstacles contributing to the nearly 50 per cent unemployment rate of adults in Canada who have a disability.
The panel will be chaired by Kenneth J. Fredeen, general counsel with Deloitte & Touche LLP, and will include the following members: Dr. Gary Birch, executive director of the Neil Squire Society; Kathy Martin, senior vice-president of human resources with Loblaw Companies; and Mark Wafer, owner of Megleen Inc., which operates several Tim Hortons franchises.
Joe Dale, executive director of the Ontario Disability Employment Network, spoke to the CBC about the panel on July 30, calling its creation a “great step” in the inclusive hiring movement that still has many obstacles ahead.
“The biggest challenge is employers have bought into a series of myths and misconceptions about people with disabilities and what that might look like in the work place,” Dale told the CBC.
“I think it’s a great step; to see businesses step up and take a leadership role is important.
“For 30 or 35 years community non-profit agencies have been trying to fight this battle and try to get people with disabilities into the work force, but to see businesses step up and say, you know, this is good for business and have that peer-to-peer context should be helpful.”
Dale’s greatest hope is that the panel, which is scheduled to release its report in December, will make recommendations for the development of educational materials for businesses related to inclusive hiring that can be taught by business leaders.
He’d also like to see better co-operation among federal and provincial governments in the funding of employment-related program development and delivery for people who have a disability.
“There’s plenty that can be improved,” said Dale.
We’d love to hear your comments on the quest to create a more inclusive workforce. Please contact 800-294-0051, ext. 24, or e-mail kristian(at)sxiomnews.ca to share your story.