Montreal – The federal government should improve real employment opportunities for persons with disabilities by connecting them with employers, and by supporting employers in the provision of work accommodations, says a new study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy.
“Canadians with disabilities should have access to real work for real pay, and their rights should be protected by labour legislation and safety standards, on an equal basis with other workers,” says author Michael Prince (Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy with the University of Victoria).
Prince analyzes the employment situation and the policy context for working-age adults with mental or physical disabilities. He finds a disproportionate number of them are unemployed, even those who are able and wish to participate in the labour force. Of those who are employed, many work for below minimum wage and are not protected by labour legislation.
Prince proposes six measures governments could take to improve the labour force participation by people with disabilities:
Even though over the years governments have developed some measures to enable Canadians with disabilities to participate in the labour force, their efforts have been inconsistent. “Federal, provincial and local programs for Canadians with disabilities are a disjointed patchwork of widely varying practices and uneven accessibility, affordability and responsiveness,” says Prince.
This situation is in good measure, according to Prince, the result of policy choices made by the federal government in the past. These policies include the transfer, starting in the late 1990s, of the employment insurance funds for labour market programs and services to the provinces and territories; a decrease in spending on programs for persons with disabilities over the past decade; and neglect of the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities.
Inclusive Employment for Canadians with Disabilities: Toward a New Policy Framework and Agenda, by Michael Prince, can be downloaded from the Institute’s website (irpp.org).
The Institute for Research on Public Policy is an independent, national, bilingual, not-for-profit organization based in Montreal. To receive updates from the IRPP, please subscribe to our e-mail list.
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