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Opinion: As Employment in Canada Continues to Struggle, It’s Disabled Folks Who Feel It the Worst

K.J. Aiello
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sept. 11, 2020

K.J. Aiello is a Toronto-based freelance writer.

Because of my disability, I spent almost two decades trying to find stable, gainful employment. I never found it. Instead, I teetered between employment, underemployment and unemployment. I struggled to pay my bills, sometimes choosing between food, rent or mounting student debt payments.

But here’s the deal: I had little to no ability to cope; my meagre sick days were used up before the end of the first quarter of the year. Oftentimes, I was unable to obtain a doctor’s note or even understand what was wrong with me. I was afraid, and, let’s be honest, I was told more than once that maybe the job just wasn’t for me.

COVID-19 Taking Financial Toll on Canadians With Disabilities: Survey

The Canadian Press – Aug 27, 2020

More than half of Canadians with disabilities who participated in a crowdsourced survey are struggling to make ends meet because of the financial fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, a new report suggests.

Statistics Canada published findings on Thursday gathered from approximately 13,000 Canadians with long-term conditions or disabilities who voluntarily filled out an online questionnaire between June 3 and July 23.

Unlike most of the agency’s studies, the survey wasn’t randomly sampled and therefore isn’t statistically representative of the Canadian population.

The responses indicate the pandemic has affected the ability of 61 per cent of participants age 15 to 64 to fulfil at least one financial obligation or essential need, including housing payments, basic utilities and prescription medication.

Air Canada Lays Off Blind Longtime Employee, Saying It Can’t Accommodate Him Amid Pandemic

By Christine Long and Selena Ross
CTV News, July 21st 2020

In 2016, Sean Fitzgibbon starred in an Air Canada promotional video about inclusion.

It showed him on the job, working as a stock-keeper. He was also given the company’s award of excellence for his service.

So it came as a shock when he got a letter saying the airline could no longer accommodate his medical condition.

Fitzgibbon has been legally blind for seven years, and last month Air Canada told him that now that it’s downsizing its workforce amid the pandemic, the company can no longer provide him with a suitable job that he can safely perform.

How COVID-19 Improved Accessibility for Job Seekers With Disabilities

The expansion of remote work and recruiting technology is leveling the playing field at work, experts told HR Dive. Kendall Davis and Nadzeya Dzivakova/HR Dive
by Aman Kidwai
Published July 17, 2020

Editor’s note: As the ADA approaches its 30th anniversary, HR Dive is taking a close look at employment issues affecting workers with disabilities. Stay tuned for related stories on recruiting, accommodations and more.

As businesses scrambled to create remote work infrastructure following pandemic-driven shutdowns, they may have also unintentionally advanced accessibility for workers with disabilities.

New York State Maintains Discriminatory Bar to Employment for Those with Less Than 20/40 Vision

Disability Rights Advocates challenges the State’s irrational, blanket disqualification of workers based on disability, seeks to bring hiring standards into compliance with the law June 10, 2020

New York, NY Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national non-profit legal center, filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the State of New York and several of its agencies. The Charge challenges the State’s bright-line rule disqualifying anyone with binocular vision lower than 20/40 from being hired as a Mental Health Therapy Aide Trainee (MHTAT), a State Office of Mental Health position that supports people with mental illness. The policy bears virtually no connection to the position’s duties, and excludes qualified candidates based on disability without considering if they can actually do the job, in violation of the American’s with Disabilities Act and the New York State Human Rights Law. Read the Charge of Discrimination at the link below.

Campbell: Access to Employment Critical Step for People With Disabilities

Dec. 3 is United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme this year is “The Future is Accessible.” It’s a future all of us in the disability sector envision, especially in terms of employment for people who have a disability.

An idealistic vision? I don’t think so. Here’s the thing, though: the future starts now. We need to do more now about employment accessibility.

This demands asking two essential questions: How do we make the future more accessible? And what does accessibility mean, especially when it comes to employment?

2Gether-International is Creating an Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

Best Brothers Group of Companies
November 8, 2019

UNITED STATES: For 2Gether-International founder Diego Mariscal, disabilities and entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand. From the moment we wake up, we have to figure out how to get dressed, how to get from one place to the next, how to communicate, and thats inherently an entrepreneurship skill, Mariscal said.

2Gether International aims to strengthen the community of entrepreneurs with disabilities.

Hes seen the proof in his organization, such as one entrepreneur who created an app to give away eyeglasses to those in need. Yet, he noted, the community faces some of the highest levels of unemployment and poverty in the world. In D.C., working-age people with disabilities face a 38.5% poverty rate.

Lyft Offering Rides To Job Seekers With Disabilities

by Shaun Heasley | November 4, 2019

Lyft’s new Jobs Access Program is aimed at easing transportation concerns for people with disabilities and other groups as they seek employment.

In an effort to help people with disabilities access job training and get hired, one of the nation’s leading ride-sharing services plans to offer free or discounted rides.

Lyft’s Jobs Access Program will provide complementary or lower-cost rides to individuals with disabilities and other targeted groups in more than 35 markets across the U.S. and Canada.

The company said rides will be available to get to or from job training programs, interviews and to get back and forth from work for the first three weeks of employment before new hires typically get their first paychecks.

LSAT Will Change for All Would-Be Lawyers as a Result of Blind Man’s Lawsuit Settlement

By Debra Cassens Weiss
October 9, 2019, 2:11 pm CDT

Corrected: The current analytical reasoning section of the Law School Admission Test will eventually be dropped as a result of a settlement in a lawsuit by a legally blind man who said he was unable to draw diagrams to help him answer the questions.

But analytical reasoning also referred to as logic games will still be assessed on the test, according to a press release announcing the settlement. Over the next four years, the Law School Admission Council will develop different ways of testing analytical reasoning.

People With Disabilities Could Boost Economy by $50 billion: Report

By Troy Media on October 18, 2019
Mario Toneguzzi is a Troy Media reporter based in Calgary

Canadians with disabilities are already a large part of the working age population and will increase in importance as the population ages, says a new report by TD Economics.

Yet labour market outcomes for these individuals continues to lag. Even moderate success in narrowing gaps between people with disabilities (PWD) and the general population could provide an economic boost of more than $50 billion, said the Canadians with Disabilities: Seizing the Opportunity report.

“For employers, the case for becoming leaders in making workplaces more accessible is clear: generating a competitive edge in the growing war for talent,” it said.

Campbell: Hiring Qualified Disabled Workers is Good for Business – and Society

We’re making progress but statistics show still more opportunity to recruit diverse talent. Jeannette Campbell
Updated: October 7, 2019

Diversity and inclusion have to be part of the workplace philosophy if Canada is to take advantage of its educated and skilled disabled workers.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It’s the official month every year for celebrating and recognizing workplace contributions of people who have a disability and the business successes they help create. But it is significantly more than that.

It represents a critical opportunity for all businesses to examine their recruitment strategies and make improvements. Statistics show many companies are still missing out on a vast untapped pool of employees: skilled people who have a disability.

‘Give Us the Opportunity,’ Calgary Disability Advocate Tells Employers

Darby Young fights to make businesses more inclusive, aware and accessible Hannah Kost · CBC News · Posted: Oct 04, 2019

“When people see persons with disabilities, they think they scream ‘accommodation,’ and that’s not necessarily true,” says Darby Young, the founder of Level Playing Field.

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month, and one Calgary business owner is encouraging employers to be more inclusive through both her advocacy and her day job.

Darby Young was born with mild cerebral palsy (CP) and says it taught her early on about the obstacles people with disabilities face in the workforce.

B.C. Communities Urged to Improve Access for Disabled People

One in four B.C. residents has disability, most want to work Tom Fletcher/
Sep. 16, 2019 1:20 p.m./

The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is close to 50 per cent, and B.C. needs them as much as they want to work, the president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce says.

Val Litwin spoke Monday at an announcement by the B.C. government on its plan to help people with disabilities find jobs, in an economy with a million job openings ahead and a labour shortage already being felt.

In a Tight Labor Market, a Disability May Not Be a Barrier

To expand the pool of workers, companies are recruiting stay-at-home parents, retirees and people with disabilities. Will they keep it up if the economy sours? By Ben Casselman
NY Times, Sept. 5, 2019

ROUND ROCK, Tex. When Kate Cosway completed her masters degree in 2014, her résumé drew plenty of interest, but she rarely advanced far in the hiring process. She was pretty sure she knew why: She is on the autism spectrum and struggles in traditional interviews.

Her luck finally turned this summer when she landed a 12-week internship at Dell Technologies, which this month will turn into a full-time job working on automation in the companys audit department.

How to Work on Work

by Paul Edwards

I have been involved at the state level of ACB since 1977 and have worked as a rehab teacher and a rehab counselor with the Division of Blind Services in Florida.

Before I retired I worked for 27 years as Director of Services to Students with Disabilities at one of the campuses of the largest community college in the country. This means that I was around when Section 504 was passed and then finally implemented. It seemed like a huge step forward to us then despite its limited coverage.

IWSCC Announces RBC as First Founding Member to Support Disabled Owned and Veteran Owned Businesses in Canada

MEDIA RELEASE September 10, 2018

Deidre Guy and Jeff Wilson, Co-ffounders of the Inclusive Workplace and Supply Council of Canada (IWSCC), are thrilled to announce the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) as its first Founding Member.

IWSCC is dedicated to helping Veterans and differently-abled entrepreneurs by creating conditions for equal access and opportunity, and highlighting the opportunities and value of relationships with these companies. Efforts include Inclusive Workplace programs and Diverse Supplier Certification. This formal designation assures organizations that procurement opportunities are going to businesses that have been pre-certified as at least 51% owned and operated by veterans or persons with disabilities.

PEAT and Teach Access Identify Large Skills Gap in the Tech Sector

Post date: Jul 26, 2018

(WASHINGTON)One in five Americans has a disability, and in today’s digital age it’s more important than ever that people with disabilities are able to use technology, from websites to mobile phones to emerging smart devices.

Twenty-eight years after the seminal passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, leading tech companies agree that building and buying products that everyone can use is an imperative, not an afterthought. But a new national study shows that a major barrier many tech companies encounter is that they can’t find job candidates with the accessible tech skills the companies needand 57% report that, as a result, achieving accessibility in their products and services takes increasingly more time and resources.

Funding is Available to Improve Accessibility and Safety in Your Workplace

June 19 2018

A new funding opportunity under the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) has been announced. Your business or organization could receive a grant of up to $100,000 through the EAF program to improve accessibility and safety in your workplace for current or future employees with disabilities.

The EAF program funds workplace projects which help remove barriers to accessibility through:

  • the construction, renovation or retrofit of workplaces, which could include the construction of access ramps and accessible offices and washrooms and the installation of elevators; and
  • the provision of accessible information and communication technologies for work use such as braille printers, accessible computer software, and visual alarm systems.

Increasing Access to Financial Support Programs for People With Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Would Lead to Economic and Social Benefits

News provided by Conference Board of Canada

OTTAWA, May 2, 2018 /CNW/ – Improving financial support programs for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) would increase their labour force participation and boost economic activity. A new Conference Board of Canada report released during MS Awareness Month finds that expanding the employment insurance (EI) sickness benefit program and making the disability tax credit (DTC) refundable would allow approximately 11,400 people to remain in or re-enter the workforce and boost economic activity by an estimated $1.1 billion annually.

The Government of Canada Launches Funding Opportunity to Improve Participation of Canadians With Disabilities in Their Communities and the Labour Market

Employment and Social Development Canada
Mar 29, 2018

GATINEAU, QC, March 29, 2018 /CNW/ – Today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, invited not-for-profit and Indigenous organizations, municipalities and territorial governments to apply for funding for retrofit, renovation or new construction projects of accessible facilities or venues through the 2018 Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) call for concepts (CFC) for mid-sized projects.

Through the Enabling Accesibility Fund, the Government of Canada is taking action to ensure Canadians with disabilities have access to services and programs that will help them participate fully in their community and in the labour market.