In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need for a government strategy to increase the employment of people with disabilities. Onley’s review states that in 2017, the previous Ontario government created a broad strategy. Moreover, this strategy had the important goals of focusing on people and supporting organizations employing people with disabilities. However, Onley’s review states that this strategy did not detail steps toward achieving these goals. As a result, the review recommends that the government improve its strategy for employing people with disabilities. For instance, the review recommends that the government:
- Create programs to support hiring and workplace accommodations of people with disabilities
- Improve its own accessibility as an employer, and show other organizations how to do so
Employing People with Disabilities
A 2017 survey on disability in Canada states that during that year, only fifty-eight percent (58%) of people with disabilities of working age were employed. In contrast, eighty-one percent (81%) of non-disabled people in the same age group were working. Onley’s review states that many more people with disabilities should be working. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees stated that many people with disabilities are able and willing to work. For example, some of the disabilities that able and willing workers may have are:
- Brain injuries
- Hearing disabilities
- Mental health disabilities
- Physical disabilities
- Visual disabilities
However, people with these and other disabilities face many barriers when they search for employment. For instance, some of these barriers are:
- Online job postings or application processes not accessible using assistive technology
- Inaccessible physical locations
- Lack of funding for workplace accommodations
- Attitudinal barriers at work, from potential employers or colleagues
- Organizational barriers, such as restrictive policies for sick days or reducing work loads
Despite these barriers, there are many advantages to employing people with disabilities. Firstly, as society ages, more people will retire. As a result, the workforce will need more people. Secondly, employing people with disabilities is good for the economy. Currently, many of the people with disabilities who are unemployed must receive government assistance. In contrast, when these people find work, they will be able to contribute to the economy through their jobs and increased purchasing power.
A Government Strategy for Employing People with Disabilities
In response to these statistics and barriers, the government started to implement a strategy to increase employment of people with disabilities. The strategy aims to support more people with disabilities seeking employment, as well as employers hoping to hire them. However, Onley’s review recommends that the strategy should be more detailed and offer programs and funding that prospective workers and employers need.
Our next article will outline the review’s recommendations about what this improved strategy should include.