Government of Ontario Recognizes Disability Employment Awareness Month

On October 4, 2016 The Honourable Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Accessibility, recognized Disability Employment Awareness Month in Ontario in her statement to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) applauds Minister MacCharles and the Government of Ontario for their commitment to inclusive employment.

From left to right: Joe Dale, Executive Director ODEN; Diana McCauley, Member of ODEN Board of Directors; The Honourable Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Accessibilty Goverment of Ontario.

From left to right: Joe Dale, Executive Director, ODEN; Diana McCauley, Secretary ODEN Board of Directors and Senior Manager, Employment Services and Knowledge Enterprise, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario; The Honourable Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Accessibility, Government of Ontario.


Mr Speaker, I’m honoured to rise in the House today to recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Monsieur le Président, je suis honorée de me tenir devant l’Assemblée aujourd’hui pour célébrer le Mois national de la sensibilisation à l’emploi des personnes handicapées.

I’d also like to recognize the rich and enduring history of indigenous people in Ontario.

Toronto is a sacred gathering place for many people of Turtle Island, and I’d like to pay particular respect to the Mississaugas of the New Credit.

Today, Ontario joins governments and communities across the country to advocate for the inclusion of people of all abilities in our workforce. The fact is, increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities and building accessible workplaces is a matter of fundamental importance to our society today – and our economy of tomorrow.

It will expand business.

It will grow the economy.

It will diversify workplaces.

And it will strengthen communities.

There are many compelling reasons to promote inclusive employment, Mr Speaker – 800,000 of them are undeniable.

That’s the number of Canadians with disabilities out of the workforce — talented people who are ready, willing and able to contribute to their communities and economy.

It’s a social, cultural and economic imperative for the entire country, Mr. Speaker.

And it’s one that the Government of Ontario intends to address.

Il s’agit d’un impératif social, culturel et économique pour tout le Canada.

Et c’en est un à l’égard duquel le gouvernement de l’Ontario compte bien s’engager.

It’s why, 11 years ago, members of this House came together to support the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

It’s also why, this spring, Premier Wynne appointed Ontario’s first Minister Responsible for Accessibility.

AND I am honoured to serve in this role.

We have a bold vision for the future, Mr. Speaker; one where our province is accessible to people of all abilities by 2025.

To get there we will encourage employers to hire more people with disabilities – to expand their talent pool and strengthen their workforce.

We will also continue to work with companies, communities and individuals to embed accessibility in our workplaces and neighbourhoods to make inclusion part of our lives.

With a goal to become accessible by 2025, Ontario has become a global leader.

Across the province, communities, businesses and not-for-profits are implementing important accessibility standards.

Our accessible employment standard is helping to shift the way employers approach recruitment and retention.

It includes requirements to incorporate accessibility into hiring processes, workplace information and career development.

As we move forward, we will continue to highlight how simple and beneficial accessibility can be.

Inclusion should be a standard part of doing business in Ontario, Mr. Speaker.

We want all Ontarians to embrace accessibility.

Not simply as a legal obligation but as an exciting business and community-building opportunity.

That’s why our government is developing a cross-cutting, multi-ministry employment strategy for people with disabilities.

This new strategy will not only fulfill a major budget commitment.

It will also address recommendations made by the Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities and the Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Panel.

By taking a whole-of-government approach and by listening to people with disabilities – it will help connect more people to the labour market while helping more employers to become accessible and meet their labour needs.

The idea is to offer streamlined services and in-demand training to address the requirements of job seekers and businesses.

We also understand that to achieve an accessible province by 2025, we need to change perceptions.

That’s why promoting a cultural shift is one of the three pillars in Ontario’s Accessibility Action Plan.

It will help to eliminate stigma, entrench inclusive values and lift expectations.

And we’re proud to partner with forward-thinking employers and organizations that can help spread the word.

The Ontario Disability Employment Network – a provincial accessibility champion – is hosting a number of employer events this month to promote the contributions people with disabilities make to workplaces.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is also reaching out to employers, organizing discussions that highlight how inclusive employment can boost a business’s bottom line.

Then there’s Dolphin Digital Technologies, Mr. Speaker.

The award-winning Ontario IT company has hosted an employment mentoring day for people with disabilities for the last six years.

This year’s mentorship day is expanding to six communities across the province.

Dolphin knows workers of all abilities would help companies reach a diverse global market.

And we know our economy would benefit from a larger tax base, increased innovation and competitive new sectors.

This is how inclusion can grow our economy, while strengthening our society.

Mr. Speaker, accessibility will build Ontario up.

It will help people of all abilities in their everyday life.

Monsieur le Président, l’accessibilité permettra de faire progresser l’Ontario.

Elle aidera les gens de toutes capacités au quotidien.

I invite everyone to join me in observing National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Let’s work together to break down employment barriers this month and every day of the year.

Thank You.


For more Disability Employment Awareness Month resources, visit the DEAM section of the ODEN website.

Posted on:

(Video) The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Champions for the Disabled

(From “The Agenda with Steve Paikin is TVO’s flagship current affairs program offering in-depth analysis and intelligent debate on issues of concern in the rapidly changing world around us.

In one of the rare moments of perfect harmony at Queen’s Park, all three parties voted in favour of making Ontario barrier-free by 2025. However, there are concerns among some that the province isn’t on track to make that goal. David Onley, Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor from 2007 to 2014, and David Lepofsky, Volunteer Chair of The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance join Steve Paikin to discuss what’s needed to make this goal a reality.”

Posted on:

Community Living Ontario’s Community Inclusion Initiative Report . . .

Community Living Ontario’s Community Inclusion Initiative Report on:

The delivery of Education Services For Students Who Have an Intellectual Disability in the Province Of Ontario

“This report is a snapshot of the special education service delivery for students who have an intellectual disability in the Province of Ontario. Its aim is to provide an overview of inclusionary practices for students who have an intellectual disability. The goal of this document is not to critique current practice but rather to present facts and perspective in relation to a population of students who, in the view of Community Living Ontario and the authors, among many others, have been neglected in the movement towards inclusive practice. The recommendations in this report may be used by families, advocates and educators, to support their ongoing efforts to access resources and opportunities for persons who have an intellectual disability.”


Posted on:

The Path to Employment

January 30, 2012

An overview of the services, supports and interventions that contribute to successful employment outcomes for people who have a disability.

It is important to note that the ‘path to employment’ is unique for each individual who has a disability and in no way should be considered linear. Not all people who have a disability will require all interventions that are described below, nor will they necessarily require these interventions in the order that they are listed.

It should also be noted that Employment Service Agencies must also look at employers and the business community as ‘customers’ of their services and supports.

The outcome of the ‘path to employment’ for people who have a disability is a successful match between a motivated job seeker and the needs of an employer that takes into consideration disability related factors that affect job options, job search strategies, negotiating the job, accommodations, support needs, job retention and career development.

Pre-employment Preparation

1.  Assessment: varies from very formal to informal. Sometimes the type of assessment will vary depending on the service options that the agency provides and/or the individual being assessed – the nature and type of disability, the agency’s familiarity with the individual and so on.

a/ Formal – Psycho-social, prescribed skills testing i.e. cognitive skills, motor skills, dexterity, job specific skills, etc.

b/ Informal – Often a more organic or intuitive means to learning about the individual’s skills, abilities and interests. Often this is done in conjunction with number 2 below – Employment Preparation.

c/ Review of client history – work experience, education, training, volunteer experience, personal plans and goals, etc.

d/ Workplace Assessments – Assessing a candidates potential to do a specific job or interest in a particular employment sector.

The outcome of the assessment will:

  • Confirm that the job seeker is motivated to work;
  • Identify factors that may influence the job seeker’s ability to search for and maintain work e.g. transportation limitations, attendant care needs, specific accommodation requirements, impact on current benefits etc.
  • Create an inventory  the job seeker’s education, skills, experience, interests and social networks which are relevant to vocational exploration;
  • Assess the job seeker’s capacity and tolerances for vocational training (formal or informal); and
  • Determine the type of work to pursue or, if work is the best option for the client at this point in time.

The assessment phase establishes the job seeker’s work related attributes, confirms the job seeker is motivated to work and ensures the job seeker understands the implications of seeking, acquiring and maintaining work.

2. Employment Preparation: varies from ‘curriculum based’ programs to individual interventions by an employment counselor and/or formal training. These programs often help assess career goals and the supports and interventions the individual will require.

a/  Individual interventions – highly dependent on the individual client and how they present to the agency e.g. is their resume current, do they have relevant experience, do they have a realistic career goal, can a career path be mapped out and to what degree is the individual self-directed

b/  Curriculum based services – Many organizations provide a curriculum based job readiness program that will assist with resume development, interview skills, and employment life skills. Often this program is also used as a form of assessment – does the person show up regularly and on time, do they demonstrate reliability; have the ability to follow direction and informal skills? Do they have the right attitude? Are there barriers and challenges previously not understood? Can an appropriate job or career goal be identified, etc.?

c/  Training – is there specific occupational or career training required. In most cases the individual will be referred to the appropriate training program but often will need assistance to find the right training institute, go through the application and enrollment processes, organize financial support (if needed) and so on.

d/  Disability Specific Accessibility and Accommodation Planning and Preparation

  • Counseling related to the job seeker’s specific disability and implications in the workplace
  • Assisting the job seeker in assessing and determining what accommodations are needed in order to successfully maintain employment (e.g. – mode of transportation, communication access in the workplace, need for Personal Support Worker, etc.)
  • Prepare job seeker for possible workplace accessibility and attitudinal barriers they may face in the workplace, and how to problem solve these challenges.
  • Assist the job seeker in coordinating and setting up a natural support system; determining who can be involved in the circle of care; etc.
  • Counseling related to issues of disclosure, implications, Human Rights etc.
  • At the completion of the employment preparation phase job seeker will:

    • Explore job options and preferences based on information gathered during assessment phase relative to the labour market within the community;
    • Have acquired specific job and/or career skills related to a specific trade or profession;
    • Address disability related factors that may impact work related performance;
    • Develop job finding and job retention skills and behaviours;
    • Develop knowledge and skills related to vocational options; and
    • Gain job related experience.
    • Be ready to pursue an appropriate and suitable job/career.

    The employment preparation phase readies the job seeker to meet the needs of the employer by helping them become job ready.

    Job Development

    1.  Employer engagement: Job developers need to educate employers and sell them on hiring people who have a disability.

    a/  Educating Employers – employers need to understand the benefits that their business will derive from hiring people who have a disability. They also need to be educated about the viability of people who have a disability in the workplace.

    b/  Disability expertise – agencies are often seen by employers as the ‘experts’ in disability and interact in a consulting capacity. This can range from providing accommodations information and assistance to training for supervisors and managers, to problem solving when issues arise.

    c/  Pre-screening candidates – often employers look to the agency to pre-screen and select appropriate candidates for the job. Sometimes this can be to assess a small group of candidates to be interviewed and sometimes this can be to send a single candidate and by-pass the interview process altogether. In this respect the employer relates to the agency in the same way they relate to other private placement firms or temp agencies. To ensure a successful match this places a heavy burden on the agency to investigate and fully understand the employer’s workplace, work culture, specific job requirements, etc.

    2.  Finding the job: One might well ask: “If  people who have a disability were competitive in the labour market why would we need employment service agencies?” The reality, however, is that most people who have a disability who engage employment agencies are not self directed and many lack the necessary training and/or work experience that would make them truly competitive. They will need assistance to find the job.

    a/  Job Development – Job development typically happens in two ways: 1. determine the client’s job/career goals and look for a suitable job; or, 2. mine for job opportunities in the business sector (the goal of Employer Engagement strategies described in 1 above) and then look to your candidate pool for a suitable fit or match.

    b/  Looking for work – often, people who have a disability require assistance to look for a job, make a call for an interview or even go to an interview independently.

    Job Developers often: make the call to set up an interview; and, accompany the candidate to the interview. The agency is often selling a ‘package’ which consists of the client and the agency’s support services.

    c/  Job Match – matching the candidate to the job is the most critical step in the process. Ensuring the client’s skills and abilities match the requirements of the job and that there is a good ‘fit’ between the client and the business in terms of workplace culture, meeting the employer’s expectations, the employer’s willingness to accommodate the individual, etc.

    During the job match phase the job seeker may:

    • Have their essential skills matched with the needs of employers (traditional placement or job carving);
    • Be presented to employers where there is potential to hire;
    • Undertake a self-directed job search; and
    • Get a job.

    The outcome of the job match phase is a competitive job for the job seeker.  During this phase a secondary client is developed – the employer.  The outcome for the employer is a successful hire. At the same time, a satisfied employer opens the door to ‘repeat’ business and/or referrals for the agency.

    Job Retention

    1.  Job Coaching – Can range from intensive training at the initial placement stage to minor accommodation assistance and to periodic interventions and retraining.

    a/  On the job training – often employers rely on the agency to provide the initial job training due to situations where training may take longer than other employees or where productivity may be lower at the on-set of the job. The job coach should always be in a position to assess a phasing out of their services so as to not create a dependency on this service.

    b/  Off the job issues – Many people who have a disability need assistance with other personal issues and/or skills in order to maintain their job. Some need transportation training to get to and from the job, assistance with financial reporting, housing and so on.

    2.  Follow Up – Usually done as routine visits and/or phone calls that diminish over time.

    a/  Provides customer service to the employer to ensure on-going satisfaction, retention for the employee and possible repeat business for future candidates

    b/  Provides support to the employee to ensure satisfaction with the job and the individual’s career aspirations are being met E.g. increases in hours of work and wages, new skill development and potential job mobility within the business

    c/  Trouble shooting and problem solving before issues become irreconcilable, leading to increased retention

    During the job retention phase the employee may:

    • Be provided with on-the-job supports to develop work proficiency;
    • Have ‘arms-length’ support through a systematic check-in or trouble shooting system; and
    • Observe that the employer is also being supported in accommodating the employee’s needs.

    The outcome of the job retention phase is the new employee performing the duties of the job to the satisfaction of the employer thereby retaining the job independently.

    3.  Customer Service – Good employment service providers must see employers as their ‘customer’ and, as such, pay special attention to providing effective customer service. If the employer is happy and has his/her needs met, they are more likely to retain the employee and more likely to do repeat business with the service provider. Business operators tell us: “We’re experts at doing business; we’re not experts in disability”. From this perspective, business operators often look to the service agency as specialized consultants for their employee(s) who have a disability.

    a/  Trouble shooting – Employers look to the service agency for assistance when issues arise on the job – poor performance, safety, poor or inappropriate behaviour, etc.

    b/  Out-placement – It has been cited that the number one reason businesses don’t hire is the fear of firing. Businesses fear bad PR, Human Rights complaints and personal discomfort with firing or laying off someone who is already seen to be at a disadvantage. Many service agencies provide out-placement assistance. That is; they help transition an employee who is not working out into a job that is a better fit.

    c/  Periodic Interventions – Workplaces evolve and the scope of a particular job may change. Often the agency will be called in to re-train the employee, realign the work station, etc. In cases where a disability might be periodic, cyclical or degenerative additional workplace accommodations may be required. Sometimes supervisors and/or managers will change and this may require re-orientation to the disability and/or accommodations.

    4.  Career development – Many people who have a disability start out in entry level positions; part-time and at low wages, often without benefits. At the same time surveys have demonstrated that people who have a disability often do not advocate on their own behalf and quit their jobs out of frustration. People are afraid to ask for more hours, pay raises or opportunity to compete for more advanced jobs within the workplace. Employers tend to think that if nothing is said, everything must be okay. People who have a disability often need assistance and advocacy to assist them to progress within the workplace or to move forward along a career path. Sometimes this means changing jobs, as their capacity and experience improves.

    Quality Assurance

    1.  Evaluation & Improvement Strategies – Employment service agencies need to invest time and resources in effective quality assurance measures. The agency must ensure it has a continuous quality improvement plan and process in place.

    2.  Employer satisfaction – The service provider must also ensure its customers are satisfied with their services. Formal employer satisfaction surveys and reviews can be implemented and often lead to repeat business as well as ensuring long-term success

    3.  Candidate satisfaction – The service provider should perform formal reviews & satisfaction surveys with clients. This will ensure a career path is in place, job satisfaction & long term stability.

    As noted in the introduction, this path is not linear and very few candidates require the all of these services and supports. For the Employment Service Agency, however, given the range of individuals they serve and the unique needs of these individuals, it is important that the complete range of services is available as determined by the candidates seeking employment.

    These are the services and supports that will lead to the greatest number of successful employment outcomes for the greatest number and range of people who have a disability.

    Posted on:

    Posted on:

    Canada Summer Jobs 2012

    Canada Summer Jobs 2012
    “Creating jobs, strengthening communities”

    Canada Summer Jobs is a Government of Canada initiative that provides funding to help employers create summer job opportunities for students. It is designed to focus on local priorities, while helping both students and their communities.

    About Canada Summer Jobs 2012

    Canada Summer Jobs:
    * provides work experiences for students;
    * supports organizations, including those that provide important community services; and
    * recognizes that local circumstances, community needs and priorities vary widely.

    Canada Summer Jobs provides funding to not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to create summer job opportunities for young people aged 15 to 30 years who are full-time students intending to return to their studies in the next school year.

    The application period for Canada Summer Jobs 2012 is from February 1 to February 29, 2012.

    NOTE: To obtain more information please call 1-800-935-5555 or see criteria.  The criteria to assess the proposals focus on:

    * service to local communities;
    * jobs that support local priorities
    * jobs that provide career-related experience or early work experience;
    * jobs with a salary that contributes to the student’s income;
    * employers who provide supervision and mentoring;
    * project activities that are directed toward members of, and support the vitality of, an Official Language Minority Community; and
    * employers who intend to hire priority students (students with disabilities, Aboriginal students and students who are members of visible
    minority groups).

    How to apply for Canada Summer Jobs

    Before completing an application, employers must consult the Canada Summer Jobs Applicant Guide and review the local priorities for their constituencies. To help employers complete their application, the Canada Summer Jobs Applicant Guide and the local priorities are available online at: , by calling 1-800-935-5555, or by visiting any Service Canada Centre.

    The Applicant Guide contains the following information for employers:
    * eligibility criteria;
    * instructions for completing the Canada Summer Jobs application;
    * the assessment process; and
    * the approval process.

    Employers can apply online or print an application from the website. They can also get an application by visiting any Service Canada Centre. The deadline for applications is February 29, 2012.

    Apply online:
    The online application process is quick and easy. An electronic confirmation number of successful receipt will be generated once the online application is submitted.  Employers must keep this number for future reference.

    Download a paper application form:
    Employers can download a printable form. Completed applications may be submitted in person, by mail, or by fax, at any Service Canada Centre.

    Completed applications may be submitted using one of the following methods:

    Online: Applications must be submitted on February 29, 2012, 23:59 Pacific Time. Applying online is quick and easy.
    In person: Applications must be received before the closing time of the local Service Canada Centre on February 29, 2012.*
    By mail: Applications must be postmarked on or before February 29, 2012.*
    By fax: Applications must be faxed to a Service Canada Centre by February 29, 2012, 23:59 local time.*

    *An employer submitting a paper application in person, by mail or by fax will receive a letter of acknowledgement.

    Application Deadline

    The deadline for applications is February 29, 2012. Applications received or postmarked after the closing date of February 29, 2012, will not be assessed.

    Posted on:

    Posted on:

    Scholarship supports promising research careers of graduate students with disabilities via Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

    November 28, 2011 – Making public parks more accessible and understanding how the human body compensates after the loss of an eye are what Jason Angel and Stefania Moro hope to accomplish with their research. The two graduate students are the latest recipients of a unique scholarship aimed at helping burgeoning scientists living with a disability to pursue and advance a career in rehabilitation research.

    Called the TD Grant in Medical Excellence: A Scholarship in Rehabilitation Related Research for People with Disabilities, the award provides funding for students with disabilities pursuing a career in rehabilitation research. The scholarship is administered by Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) and is open to students from several universities in Ontario: McMaster, Ryerson, University of Toronto, Waterloo, York and Wilfrid Laurier.

    Among the first of its kind in Canada, the scholarship will provide $20,000 each to Jason and Stefania, who now join a growing list of 12 graduate students who have received one-time and renewed awards since the scholarship’s inception. Since 2006, TD Bank Financial Group has pledged $550,000 to support the program, which was created by Toronto Rehab and its foundation to engage people with disabilities in a meaningful way in rehabilitation research.

    “This scholarship enhances the relevance and quality of rehabilitation research and breaks down the barriers that students with disabilities often face when pursuing higher education,” says Dr. Geoff Fernie, Institute Director of Research, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, who developed the idea for the scholarship. “This is important because out of the four million people living with a disability in Canada, only about eight per cent complete a bachelor’s degree, and even fewer complete a graduate degree.”

    Having grown up in the rural woods of Maine, Jason has always had a love of the outdoors and travel. This passion continued after a car crash in 1990 which left him with a spinal cord injury.

    “My spirit of adventure didn’t end when I started using a wheelchair,” says Jason. “I realized how environmental barriers can prevent people with disabilities from participating in travel, employment, and everyday life. With the right knowledge and a bit of effort, many of these barriers can be eliminated or minimized.”

    Jason’s determination led him to the field of research. In 2001, Jason enrolled at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts to study what he loves – travel and tourism. After graduating, Jason along with his wife, Patty, moved to Canada in 2010 to complete a master’s degree at the University of Waterloo in the Environmental Studies Tourism Policy and Planning program.

    Recognizing the importance of accessibility for people with disabilities and its enormous potential economic impact on the tourism industry, he is currently auditing accessibility at five parks in southern Ontario and plans to make recommendations to improve accessibility particularly for people with limited mobility or who use wheelchairs.

    For Stefania, the scholarship will advance the graduate student’s already groundbreaking work. She is the first researcher to study auditory and visual processing in a rare group of patients – those who have had one eye surgically removed at a young age due to cancer.

    She believes that people with a sensory deficit can be trained to adapt, which in turn will result in rich perceptual experiences and less stress on their remaining senses. Her research explores crossmodal plasticity – or how people with one eye adapt – and whether other senses are enhanced and thus compensate for the loss.

    “There is evidence of cortical plasticity. People with one eye have enhanced senses as a form of compensation,” says Stefania, who suffered a traumatic injury to her left eye as a child. “This gives researchers and medical practitioners useful information to teach people how to improve their lives. My life experiences and my knowledge of the importance of maintaining my seeing eye and complementary senses have driven me to advocate for vision research and the resulting clinical applications which will improve patients’ lives.”

    Stefania’s research has previously been supported by the Canadian National Institute of the Blind’s (CNIB) Baker award which was presented to her supervisor, Dr. Jennifer Steeves of York University’s Perceptual Neuroscience Laboratory. In 2005, the CNIB also awarded Stefania the Walter and Wayne Gretzky Scholarship to support her undergraduate studies.

    Stefania plans to explore her findings further through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging at York University and intends to pursue a doctoral program in Vision Science research. The scholarship will help her advance this area of research.

    For Jason, through the scholarship and his ongoing support from family, friends and his wife, “I have every opportunity to achieve my goal of changing the world.”

    Posted on:

    Assessment of Debt Load and Financial Barriers Affecting Students with Disabilities in Canadian Postsecondary Education – Ontario Report for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario

    Assessment of Debt Load and Financial Barriers Affecting Students with Disabilities in Canadian Postsecondary Education – Ontario Report

    Prepared by Tony Chambers, Mahadeo Sukhai and Melissa Bolton for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (Read Study Here)
     Click here to access original source.

    Posted on:

    Posted on: