New federal effort to boost economic inclusion follows launch of provincial, community-based initiative
Wednesday August 1, 2012 — Michelle Strutzenberger
The federal government’s announcement earlier this week that it is creating a panel to increase access to jobs in the private sector for people who have a disability comes just weeks after the launch of activity along similar lines in B.C.
Spearheaded by Community Living BC (CLBC) earlier this summer, an effort in the province is looking to boost the employment of people who have a development disability during the next three years.
The goal is to see the province achieve the highest employment rate of people who have a developmental disability of any jurisdiction in North America.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI), an atypical approach focusing on what’s working to bring about change, is being used to create a community-based action plan to realize this goal.
The new federal panel is taking a similar approach in some respects in that it has been tasked with identifying pockets of success in the labour market where people who have a disability have found and retained meaningful employment.
One key difference is that while the federal panel itself will be identifying these pockets of success, the B.C. effort is looking to convene, in person, a wide representation of stakeholders from various communities and have them lift up what they see as the strengths and successes. The information will be used to create a community action employment plan that will be unveiled in October.
In addition to spotlighting the pockets of success, the federal panel will identify the barriers and obstacles contributing to the nearly 50 per cent unemployment rate of adults in Canada who have a disability.
“It’s important to us that all Canadians can participate fully in the workplace and indeed all aspects of society,” Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said at the announcement in Ottawa.
Canadians are encouraged to participate in online consultations for the federal panel beginning in September. They can share how employers have recruited and supported employees with disabilities at various stages of their careers, challenges that businesses face in trying to hire and keep employees with physical or mental disabilities, and how best practices have benefited businesses.
The minister said this panel is an important step towards the goal of ensuring that people with disabilities have equal opportunities to participate in society, succeed and reach their full potential.
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.
For a story on the B.C. effort to boost employment of people who have a disability, click this link.
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