Canadians with Disabilities: Getting Beyond Being a Population in Waiting
Many people with disabilities, when seeking employment, struggle endlessly against discriminatory barriers in the job market.
“People with disabilities have been a population in waiting: waiting for governments to develop proactive policies inclusive of job seekers with disabilities and waiting to contribute to the economy through employment and paying taxes,” states Tony Dolan, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD).
“A signal that major changes need to be made is the fact that approximately 50% of persons with disabilities are currently unemployed or out of the labour market (the rate is higher for people with severe disabilities), which is unacceptable in a G8 country like Canada,” adds Dolan.
In Article 27, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires ratifying countries, like Canada, to “safeguard and promote the realization of the right to work” by people with disabilities. “To this end, CCD has called on all Federal Parties to share their plans to improve employment outcomes for persons with disabilities,” states John Rae, a CCD Vice Chair.
“People with disabilities, who become employed, are more likely than others to be in short-term or part-time jobs, self-employment, and the ‘informal economy’,” continues Rae.
Due to their experience of multiple barriers, women with disabilities encounter additional disadvantages in the labour market. For example, Yves Gingras, HRSDC Senior Director Economic Policy Directorate (Labour Market Analysis), appearing before a parliamentary committee, testified that, “the average total [annual] income for persons with a disability is about $27,000, compared to nearly $38,000 for those without a disability. Women with disabilities earn even less, an average of about $22,000, compared to $31,000 for men with disabilities.” Thus, CCD is particularly interested in Federal Parties’ plans to improve labour market outcomes for women with disabilities.
Canadians with disabilities are seeking equality in employment. To this end, CCD has repeatedly recommended to federal parties that they commit to increased investment in the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities. For example, new investments could be focused on youth with disabilities (aged 18-30) transitioning from school to work, including trades, with support for proactive measures such as co-operative placements, summer job programs, supported employment and job retention measures.
For more information contact:
Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson, Tel: 902-626-1752 (cell).
John Rae, CCD Second Vice Chair, Tel: 416-941-1547.