August 2, 2012
Ottawa creates panel to increase work opportunities for disabled persons
The federal government has created at panel that aims to increase participation of people with disabilities in the workforce.
The newly created Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities will identify private sector successes and best practices with regard to the labour market participation of persons with disabilities. The Panel will also identify barriers and disincentives to their employment.
“Any vision of future growth and prosperity for Canada depends on getting more people into the labour force, including Canadians with disabilities,” said finance minister Jim Flaherty in a release.
The creation of the panel was part of the 2012 federal budget.
The panel is interested in hearing about the various ways employers have recruited and supported employees with disabilities at various stages in their careers and how these best practices may have benefitted their businesses.
The panel would also like to hear about challenges that businesses may have faced in trying to hire or retain persons with disabilities.
The panel uses the term disability to include physical, mental and intellectual, visible and invisible, permanent and episodic disabilities, as well as those of gradual and sudden onset.
People experiencing these various types of disabilities may require appropriate supports and accommodations to ensure they can fully participate in the workplace.
The Canadian Human Rights Commissions (CHRC) applauded the creation of the panel.
“The evidence is overwhelming that people with disabilities want to participate as fully as possible in the Canadian workforce,” David Langtry, CHRC acting chief commissioner, said in a release.
“But discrimination remains a barrier. This is the kind of leadership that we need to drive cultural change across Canadian society.”
A recent study published by CHRC show significant gaps in education, employment and economic well-being between people with disabilities and the general population.
According to the Report on Equality Rights of People with Disabilities, when compared to other adults, adults with disabilities are half as likely to complete a university degree, are more likely to settle for part-time instead of full time employment, and have lower annual incomes.
Kenneth J. Fredeen, general counsel with Deloitte & Touche LLP, will chair the panel. Panel members include: Dr. Gary Birch, Neil Squire Society executive director; Kathy Martin, senior vice-president of human resources with Loblaw Companies; and Mark Wafer, owner of Megleen Inc., which operates several Tim Hortons franchises.
An online consultation process will begin in early September. The panel will prepare a report by December 2012.
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