Anybody watching the recent ParaPan American Games in Toronto couldn’t help but be impressed by the abilities of the disabled athletes. The same holds true for the many workers with physical and mental impairments who manage to overcome their disabilities and find employment.
In fact, a study by DuPont showed that employees with disabilities scored average or better in job involvement, quality of work, and attendance. However, statistics show that those with disabilities have a much harder time finding employment than able-bodied workers. In Toronto, 74% of people without disabilities are able to find work, while 47% of those with disabilities are unemployed.
Canadian Business SenseAbility, a company which assists employers in accessing benefits of employing people with disabilities, produced a report titled Rethinking Disability in the Private Sector that found that “employing those with disabilities results in higher retention, revenue growth, customer goodwill, and development of great leaders.”
Finding employment in Toronto
The Greater Toronto Area has many agencies and organizations which can assist those with disabilities in finding employment. Services which are offered to persons with disabilities in search of a job include:
- The Ontario Job Opportunity Network is a group of 26 community organizations in Toronto working on behalf of disabled people, hosting job fairs and keeping job seekers up-to-date on adaptive technology.
- Entry-level paid internships for disabled college or university grads seeking work experience from Career Edge.
- The Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, offered by Service Canada, provides funding for local projects which offer employment to disabled workers.
- Job Start offers assistance for post-secondary disabled students to find employment.
- JVS Toronto assists in working to find employment for those with learning disabilities such as ADHD. The organization holds workshops, provides job coaching, and matches people with suitable job openings.
- The Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work maintains a job board for those with disabilities, including information on becoming an entrepreneur or self-employed.
- The City of Toronto has a resource website for those with disabilities online, including support and employment services.
Labour force participation of people with disabilities
Andre Picard, a Globe and Mail journalist, is a strong supporter of the disabled. In a recent column, Picard refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which provides a national mandate for elimination of discrimination of the disabled. He says that in Canada, we have only “vague principles and tame enforcement bodies” to protect people with disabilities, and goes on to add that “we continue to treat inclusion of people with disabilities as a privilege rather than a right,” suggesting something like a Canadians with Disabilities Act is long past due.
Employment and Social Development Canada published the results of a conference held in 2012 on labour force participation of people with disabilities. Among the date, the report found that: hiring people with disabilities was good for business; 57% of companies who hired disabled workers had no costs for accommodation; and those companies that made accommodations in the workplace did so for an average of $500.
Research and studies over the years have clearly shown that hiring disabled workers is a positive move for employers. Many disabled workers are over-achievers and this ability far outweighs their disabilities and can benefit the companies employing them.
Susan Pratt has a certificate in journalism and has been published in The Globe and Mail, The Mississauga News, and online on the Alphabird site, plus she has over 15 years of experience in Human Resources.