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.

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ODEN Recognizes Disability Employment Awareness Month

Ensuring workplaces welcome the talents of all people, including persons with disabilities, is a critical part of our efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy.

In this spirit, the Ontario Disability Employment Network will be recognizing Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) this October to raise employer awareness of this talent pool and celebrate the many and varied contributions of persons with disabilities.

The 2016 Disability Employment Awareness Month theme is “Engage Talent!” Each week during October’s Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM), we will hear from successful employers who hire persons with disabilities as an integral element of their business strategy.

Text: October 2016 Disability Employment Awareness Month #DEAM Engage Talent! Image: Many hands in the air all giving thumbs up.

ODEN has planned a number of activities during this month to reinforce the value and talent persons with disabilities add to our workplaces. We invite you to take part in these events and will be providing our members with exclusive resources to use throughout the month of October. As well, we will be promoting our members’ DEAM related activities.

Subscribe to our mailing list and visit DEAM Resources for ways you can get involved this October!

Share #DEAM on Facebook
Spread the #DEAM message on Twitter
Visit our LinkedIn Company Page
Join our LinkedIn Group

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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.”


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Question of the day: Should pay rates be based on productivity?

If we were to set the current rate for your job as the benchmark or standard and then make adjustments based purely on productivity, what would happen? Take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself; “if it were strictly based on productivity, would my rate go up or down?” Come on now, be honest! Look around at your colleagues doing similar jobs and apply the same assessment.

Agreed that it’s not a practical exercise and absolutely none of us would live with the consequences if it were to be applied to us. Why then, do we apply this logic to people who have a disability when we place them in jobs without wages or for stipends and wages below the going rate?

When I was a younger man, I worked in construction for a few summers and I remember one particular summer when I worked on a road crew. That’s a nice way of saying I spent the summer digging ditches for sewer lines. Anyway, for those who know me, I’m not a big man and in those days I had a waist line much more proportionate to my height. My crew mate – fellow ditch digger – was 6’ 4” and about 220 lbs. You youngsters will have to do the metric conversion for yourself but suffice it to say, he was a much bigger and brawnier guy that me.

So over the course of the day, it was clear this guy could move twice as much dirt as I could and logic would have it, therefore, that I should be paid half his rate as I was obviously less productive than he was. But did that question ever even enter the boss’ mind? I think not.

Did other factors come into play? Probably! I was never late or missed time; never came to work hung over; knew how to solve the occasional problem here and there and always had the guys laughing at break. The other guy – routinely late; usually missed half a day following payday; grumbled and bad-mouthed the boss all the time and had a tendency to lean on his shovel every time the boss turned his back.

I’m pretty sure that the days when everyone sat on a production line producing widgets, having to produce x amount per hour to keep their jobs, are long gone. Most employers today look at the total package of what each person contributes to the workplace. This must be the starting point when we place people who have a disability with any employer.

Your comments are welcomed.

Joe Dale

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Achieving Social and Economic Inclusion, from segregation to ‘employment first’ (CACL)

Links to the study entitled "Achieving social and economic inclusion"CACL has  completed a research study on employment supports for people with intellectual disabilities. The study looks at effective policies and practices for transitioning from sheltered and enclave based employment services for people with intellectual disabilities to supports that enable inclusion in the labour market. The research study follows on a renewed international interest in what have been dubbed “employment first” or “employment focused” approaches marking the first major Canadian contribution to this dialogue.

Click here to view the study

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