PLEASE NOTE: PDF DOWNLOAD OF THIS REPORT COMING SOON
2010 has been an exciting year for the Ontario Disability Employment Network and as we look back and take stock of our efforts, we are pleased with our accomplishments and the strides the Network has made in such a short time since its launch in 2009. We hope you are also pleased with the efforts of your Network and satisfied that your membership dues represent good value.
The following few pages represent the highlights of our activities over the past year. Considering this has all been accomplished due to the volunteer efforts of our Board, a one-day per week Executive Director and the help of our members, we hope you will agree the list is substantial.
On that note we would like to say thank you to all our sponsors and patrons who have made this possible. To date the Network’s revenue sources have come from membership dues, revenue from events and training sessions and a few generous organizations that have made both financial and in-kind contributions to help sustain the Network and its work.
We want to ensure we remain responsive to those issues that matter most to you as you face the daily challenges of finding and maintaining jobs for people who have a disability and we encourage you to provide feedback to the Network at every opportunity. It is with your direction, support and encouragement that the Network will continue to be successful.
Key to ensuring our member organizations are able to deliver quality employment services in a sustainable manner is that we continue our work with government. Over the past year the Network has met and corresponded with ODSP-ES, the MCSS Modernization Unit, Employment Ontario and Service Canada.
In the 4th quarter of the year the Board established a formal Government Relations Committee with a Board chair along with 2 task forces to address issues related to the key funding programs ODSP and Employment Ontario.
- Meetings with Norm Helfand and Marian Shull regarding transition of ESS positions to generic Case Workers, redefining competitive employment, ODSP payments to agencies, retention payments and baseline model, and volunteering in the private sector
MCSS Modernization Initiative
- Meeting and correspondence with Peggy Black of the Modernization Unit with respect to the roll out of the modernization initiative, regulatory requirements related to the administration of ODSP funded services and training for Case Workers.
- Employment Ontario Task Force putting together a provincial coalition to develop strategies to ensure that specialized services are available for people who have a disability in the new EO model.
- Created a model for Employment Ontario that shows how specialized services can be maintained while achieving Employment Ontario’s primary goals
- Several meetings and correspondence with MTCU staff including ADM Laurie LeBlanc
- Initial meetings with Davin Kamino of Service Canada were held in December 2010 to discuss the Opportunities Fund, Case Management and Assessment services.
Provincial Ministry of Finance
- The Network has requested standing on the panel for the pre-budget consultations to be held this March. No response at the time of this report.
Employer Engagement and Marketing Initiatives
Engaging employers who are willing to help us achieve our goals is vital to improving the participation rates of people who have a disability in the workforce. The Ontario Disability Employment Network has made several advancements in this area.
- Thanks in large part to Sarnia Mayor, Mike Bradley, employment service providers have come to realize that their municipal governments are large, prospective employers and should be challenged to set an example by ‘Doing the Right Thing’ and including disability in their diversity hiring processes.
- Organizations across the province have been systematically approaching their mayors seeking the same kind of leadership.
- The Network, together with Mayor Bradley has provided support and council to both organizations and local mayors about how to put this in action.
- A Mayor’s Challenge toolkit has been developed and is available on-line for Network members.
- Currently 10 Mayors and their municipalities have come on board with a commitment to hire people who have a disability in their municipal workforce as a direct result of the Mayor’s Challenge.
- The first annual Champion’s League awards were launched at the Network’s first annual conference and AGM in October.
- Three prominent Champions were recognized with awards – Mike Bradley, Mayor of Sarnia; Joe Hoffer, Cohen Highley LLP; and, Mark Wafer, Megleen Inc. aka Tim Hortons
- While recognition is important the real story here is in the formation of the Champion’s League itself. The awards recognize employers who: ‘lead by example’ as demonstrated through their hiring practices; have through their career and business relationships promoted the hiring of people who have a disability to others; and, (most importantly) have made a commitment to continue to help us promote the hiring of people who have a disability in the years to come.
The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
- These employer engagement strategies have not gone unnoticed and Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor has become an advocate, supporter and promoter of both the Mayor’s Challenge and the Champion’s League.
- Several meetings have taken place with the Lieutenant Governor to look at how we can strategically utilize these employer engagement initiatives to advance our employment agenda and continue to build the League.
Some of the Network’s success can be measured by the media that is attracted to the issues and perspectives of the Network and its members. While the Network has not had a specific media strategy, there has been significant media response to our efforts and initiatives.
- Response to the London Free press article re comment made by advice columnist that was also posted in the Toronto and Winnipeg Sun and Canoe.com.
- A series of articles were written by the Executive Director and published. This series, Disability in the workplace has been picked up and published in a variety of Newsletters and web sites around the province
- Radio Interview with a local Windsor radio station about the Network
- Article in The Intelligencer
- Article in Northumberland News
- Articles regarding the Mayor’s Challenge in the North Bay Nugget and many other community newspapers
The Network also established a Communications Committee this past year. While much of the committee’s initial efforts has been directed at creating our web site, this committee will also tackle the broader communications issues in the future.
While we believe all of the work presented thus far benefits our members, there have been some additional initiatives that are directed specifically at members.
- Built and launched a brand new, interactive web site choc full of information, resources and a way to connect with your colleagues. If you haven’t visited the website recently we encourage you to do so.
- Special thanks to the volunteer contributions of Aerin and Jimmy Guy of Space Race who have made this possible.
Training Events and Resources
- Over the past year we have had two key training events – Networking in the North and our first annual conference, Champions for Change.
- Evaluations for both events were very positive and the message is we need to do more training and to locate events in various parts of the province.
- At the time of writing, the Network is working on a grant proposal to develop some new marketing materials that will be available to members in the new-year.
- The Ontario Disability Employment Network is a member-driven organization. It is grass routs and built on the strengths of its members. We can’t do any of this without you.
- This year the Network has grown to 64 paid members.
- Be sure to share this information with your colleagues and encourage others to join Ontario’s only Provincial Network that works on behalf of employment service providers with the goal of eliminating barriers to employment faced by people who have a disability.
- Employment networking day – How do we create a provincial voice to effect change?
- Ensuring growth and sustainability for the network through foundations and other private funding sources that share the objectives and goals of the Network
- Continue with our Government Relations work
- Building on our employer engagement strategies including the Champion’s League and Mayor’s Challenge
- Provide training and networking opportunities for the sector
- Continue to build our on-line community and networking opportunities
- Continue to build our membership base
- Ensure we remain responsive to the needs of the members. Let us know what we can do for you!
These are challenging and exciting times for employment service providers. It has been a long time since we have had a consolidated and effective Provincial Network that deals specifically with the issues related to employment for people who have a disability.
The landscape of government policy and funding is changing rapidly and while we need to be prepared for these changes and ensure we are able to respond to them, we can’t lose sight of our primary objective. That is to find meaningful and sustainable employment for those we serve.
From the Board of Directors of the Ontario Disability Employment Network we wish you every success in the coming year.