Program forecast to reduce unemployment for people with disabilities by 30%

The Ontario government has proposed a new employment strategy for disabled residents, saying that businesses in the province with at least 20 employees should commit to hiring at least one disabled person.


The province decided to do this in order to resolve the high unemployment rates among disabled people—about twice that of the national and provincial rates of all the age groups, according to Statistics Canada.


The plan outlined a new case management approach for youth in the program will help youths realize their job goals and make concrete plans to achieve them. Job-related learning experiences and transition from school to workforce for youths will be also supported.


The strategy also said that a shift towards a supported employment program would be very helpful as well, offering a range of services for both employers and employees.


The government would also be taking a proactive role with hiring disabled people.


Accessibility Minister Tracy MacCharles is optimistic about the project—it could create about 56,000 new jobs and reduce the number of unemployed Ontarians with disabilities by 30%.
She told to the Globe and Mail, “It’s a call for action…because it’s good business. We want to challenge employers to work through any barriers they have, whether it is how to find people with disabilities, or systemic barriers they have, and tap into that untapped labour pool.”


“I’m confident that the areas of focus are the right ones to help raise the importance of creating inclusive environments and increasing that persistently low employment rate for persons with disabilities.” MacCharles added.


Others are not so optimistic and are cautious about the plan.


Peter Athanasopoulos, senior manager of government relations with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario told to the Globe and Mail, “At this point, I’m not clear what the entire strategy is. I just know that there’s four pillars, and they sound like the right pillars. So what does that mean overall for Ontarians seeking employment?”


David Lepofsky, an activist for the Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, praised the efforts to reach out to disabled youth, but was skeptical of the long delay of the announcement.


He said, “Unemployed Ontarians with disabilities better not be holding their breath before they see concrete action and more jobs.”


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