October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Employers are encouraged to think about how they can make their business practices more inclusive and accessible for Canadians with all abilities.
Earlier this year the Honourable Kirsty Duncan introduced the Accessible Canada Act to Parliament, which aims to “identify, remove and prevent barriers for an estimated 4 million Canadians with physical, sensory, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or other disabilities”.
These are important goals. A quick online search of inclusive employment yields plenty of heartwarming stories. And the federal government in its news release referred to the new Act as “the most significant progress for people with disabilities in over 30 years.”
The thing is, “heartwarming” doesn’t pay the Hydro bill. And labelling a person’s work or contribution as a form of “charity” is inaccurate and dehumanizing.
Awareness around disability rights continues to grow, yet the most recent data reveals that only 49% of Canadians with disabilities aged 25 to 64 are employed compared to 79% of those without disabilities. Canadians with disabilities earn 44% less than those folks without a disability and are more likely to live in poverty—moreover these stats are considered more positive than the reality.
Organizations like the Ontario Disability Employment Network take a different approach, by providing important facts as to the business case for hiring adults with a disability, explaining just why and how employers benefit by opening up their doors to this sector of our population.
Check out ODEN’s excellent Why Hire page for everything you need to know.
Ontario is the first Canadian Province to pass a law to improve accessibility in the areas that impact the daily lives of people with disabilities: The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) will be fully implemented by 2025.
Are you an employer? Check out this information page to help businesses become AODA ready.
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