goal of the Minister's Council on Employment for Persons with Disabilities
is to advise the Minister of Human Resources on solutions and strategies
for increasing the employment, employability and independence of persons
with disabilities, particularly through partnerships with business
and industry throughout BC.
Council is a
"call to action" and a positive challenge to
BC's business community.
from the Minister
On behalf of the BC Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance, I am pleased to present the first annual report of the
Minister's Council on Employment for Persons with Disabilities.
Currently in our province, persons with
disabilities face an unemployment rate twice that of persons without
disabilities. The Government of BC recognizes that persons with disabilities
want, and need, to achieve greater independence and participate more
fully in the workforce and in their community. To help us achieve
this goal, the Minister's Council on Employment for Persons with Disabilities
was convened in January 2003.
As a key initiative of the provincial
government's Employment Strategy for Persons with Disabilities, the
council operates as a partnership between government, business, education,
community-based organizations and persons with disabilities. It is
made up of public and private sector leaders, listed on page 12 of
this report, who are committed to working together to improve the
employment picture for persons with disabilities across our province.
To the members of the Minister's Council,
I applaud each of you for the enthusiasm, drive and dedication you
have brought to the table over the past year. In particular, I commend
former Minister of Human Resources Murray Coell for his vision in
founding the council, and his determination to see that persons with
disabilities enjoy the same work opportunities as persons without
And, finally, to readers of this report,
I thank you for your interest in the council's work. We welcome your
questions and input.
The Honourable Stanley B. Hagen
Minister of Human Resources
BC's Employment Strategy for Persons
Working Towards Greater Self-Reliance
The Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance supports
individuals and families in achieving their social and economic potential
by moving people from income assistance to sustainable employment
and by providing income assistance to those in need.
In April 2002, as a part of its three-year
Service Plan, the Ministry announced a new Employment Strategy for
Persons with Disabilities. This strategy is a comprehensive approach
to support persons with disabilities who want to take advantage of
opportunities to work in full-time, part-time, temporary or voluntary
employment. It provides for continued assistance to those who are
not expected to be able to gain independence.
The deployment of the government's strategy
has focused on two key initiatives:
- Development of a specialized Employment
Program for Persons with Disabilities, which commenced in late 2002;
- Establishment of the Minister's Council
on Employment for Persons with Disabilities, which held its inaugural
meeting in January 2003.
Further to these initiatives, in April
2003, the government established a $20 million endowment fund with
Vancouver Foundation to help British Columbians with disabilities
find and keep jobs. Called the Disability Supports for Employment
Fund, this endowment is used to provide a range of supports that enable
persons with disabilities to participate in the workplace, as they
are able. Approximately one million dollars in income from the Fund
will be distributed in grants each year to BC charities.
A Comprehensive Employment Program
for Persons with Disabilities
Through the Employment Program for Persons
with Disabilities, the Ministry offers a full range of services, tools
and supports such as job training and placement, technical equipment,
physical accommodations and follow-up workplace support.
The program includes five key components:
Pre-Employment Services, launched
December 2002, provides access to job-related training in areas such
as computer skills, decision-making and interview preparation.
Planning and Employment Services,
launched September 2003, assists individuals in assessing their goals,
skills and necessary employment supports, and provides placement and
Disability Supports for Employment,
also launched September 2003, provides goods and services required
for training and employment, such as interpreter services for the
deaf, transportation and workplace modifications.
Self-Employment Services, launched
in May 2004, assists individuals both in setting up and running their
own business, and in assessing their ability to run their own business
and identifying their financing options.
Assistive Technology, launched
in September 2003, provides supports such as computerized reading
and writing systems, speech recognition systems, and assistive listening
and communication systems.
The Disability Supports for Employment
Removing Barriers to Employment
The lack of disability supports - goods
and services designed to assist persons with disabilities in securing
and retaining employment - is one of the top barriers in the path
to employment for persons with disabilities.
The Disability Supports for Employment
Fund was created in April 2003 to provide specialized accommodation,
such as vehicle or workplace modification, as well as tools and services
to help persons with disabilities overcome barriers to participating
in employment or employment-related activities.
The Fund was established with a $20 million
endowment from the BC Government and is administered by the Vancouver
Foundation. The foundation was selected as fund manager because of
its long-standing history of philanthropic leadership in BC and its
Grants are awarded annually in June and
December. The Minister's Council on Employment for Persons Disabilities
provides advice to the Vancouver Foundation on the disbursement of
For more information about the Disability
Supports for Employment Fund, including funding guidelines, the grant
application process and application deadlines visit the Vancouver
Foundation website at: www.vancouverfoundation.bc.ca
2003-2004 Granting Highlights
Paraplegic Association (BC)
To help develop Specialized Employment Technology Support Services
targeted at persons with severe disabilities wishing to engage
Burnaby Association for
To provide physiotherapy services and adaptive technology to artists
with disabilities who are members of the Artists Helping Artists
Central Okanagan Brain Injury
To put in place a Vocational Support Specialist for people with
acquired brain injury.
Canadian Mental Health Association
Cowichan Valley Branch 1992
To train five peer support workers as mental health job coaches.
Neil Squire Foundation
To provide employment-related technical aids, assessments, personal
services or equipment modifications for persons with disabilities.
Penticton and District Society
for Community Living
To support the Employment Partnership Program and help create
meaningful employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
Powell River Model Community
Project for Persons with Disabilities Society and the Powell River
Association for Community Living
To create and support work experiences and employment opportunities
for persons with developmental and other learning disabilities.
STEPS Forward Inclusive
Post-Secondary Education Society
To support the development of a STEPS Co-op Work program for young
adults with intellectual disabilities involved in post-secondary
education at University of British Columbia.
Research Report Evaluates Employment Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities
To provide a current profile of persons
with disabilities in BC, the Minister's Council on Employment for
Persons with Disabilities commissioned R.A. Malatest
to conduct a preliminary research study. The report,
Profile Of Persons With Disabilities In British Columbia: Employment,
Labour Market Needs And Occupational Projections," completed
in December 2003, examines the employment and employability of persons
with disabilities in BC, contrasted against projected labour force
challenges and opportunities to be confronted in the province in future.
The report concluded that:
- There are over 500,000 British Columbians
with disabilities. Approximately 350,000 are between the ages of
15 and 64 and considered of working age. While 44% of these individuals
reported they were employed, 21% declared they were unemployed and
30% stated they were not in the labour market.
- The annual income range most frequently
reported amongst persons with disabilities in BC was between $10,000
and $15,000. Women with disabilities on average earned 53% less
than their non-disabled counterparts, while men with disabilities
on average earned 63% less than non-disabled men.
- Educational attainment does not appear
to be a reason for poor labour market outcomes for persons with
- Employers are not utilizing the skills
and abilities of persons with disabilities to their fullest potential.
The Labour Market
- Labour market trends in BC indicate
a growing need to consider non-traditional labour market groups.
Low employment growth, a reduction in new labour force entrants
to drive employment growth and labour force shortages associated
with the aging of the work force are key contributing factors.
- In the future, the BC labour force
will need to fill a significant number of positions - an estimated
913,287 positions between 2003 and 2015. This estimate does not
include projected job openings associated with the 2010 Olympic
and Paralympic Winter Games and two major capital projects; the
Sea to Sky Highway upgrade, and the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition
- The 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter
Games can provide the opportunity to create a labour market development
strategy for persons with disabilities.
Gaps in BC
- Despite the availability of projects
and studies aimed at helping persons with disabilities find and
maintain employment, some gaps exist in the areas of research, workplace
practice and knowledge.
- Existing data does not have sufficient
focus on employment and labour market issues or the experiences
and needs of persons with disabilities in the workplace.
- Employment projects do not always
provide what persons with disabilities want or require. Much of
the emphasis on improving labour market outcomes is placed on the
individual needing to change, rather than their potential employers.
New types of work, such as telework or home-based work, may offer
new opportunities, and new technology could be better utilized.
- Employers need better, more readily
available information about workplace needs of persons with disabilities.
The sharing of information about successful strategies used by persons
with disabilities, both in their employment search and on the job,
would challenge stereotypes, promote positive role models for persons
with disabilities and demonstrate capability to potential employers.
Opportunities for Action
- With future employment projections
for BC pointing to greater labour demand amid shrinking labour supply,
there are many potential employment opportunities for persons with
disabilities. However, systemic issues and historical biases in
labour practices must be examined and corrected in order for persons
with disabilities to have access to these employment opportunities.
A coordinated effort by employers and government will be required.
Profile Of Persons With Disabilities In British Columbia: Employment,
Labour Market Needs And Occupational Projections," report
can be viewed and downloaded from www.mhr.gov.bc.ca/epwd/pubs.htm
2010 Olympic Legacy for Persons with
The hosting of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic
Winter Games and completion of two major capital projects - the Sea-to-Sky
Highway Upgrade, and the Vancouver Convention
Expansion - will generate significant employment growth. During the
period of 2003 to 2015, labour demand will increase to 1,045,085 openings,
of which 485,000 will be new jobs.
The 2010 Human Resources Planning Committee
partnered with the Minister's Council on Employment for Persons with
Disabilities to establish recommendations regarding employment for
persons with disabilities leading up to and including the 2010 Olympic
and Paralympic Games.
The HR Planning Committee incorporated
research from the Minister's Council regarding the profile of persons
with disabilities in BC and tabled its report in December 2004.
The Minister's Council looks forward
to continuing its input regarding the 2010 Olympic legacy opportunity
for persons with disabilities.
*2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter
Games Labour Demand Analysis, Roslyn Kunin
The Next Steps
In 2004/05, the Minister's Council on
Employment for Persons with Disabilities will focus on advancing the
strategies that are currently in place to increase the employment
and independence of persons with disabilities.
To better understand the workplace environment,
including the issues faced by employees with disabilities, their co-workers
and their employers, the Ministry, acting on behalf of the Minister's
Council is undertaking a major research project. The objective of
this project is to collect accurate and timely information about persons
with disabilities, their places of employment, their employers and
the system of supports that will sustain and enhance their capacity
to be employed.
The project will document BC employers'
experiences, approaches, challenges and best practices associated
with recruitment and retention of employees with disabilities. The
results of this research will be used to develop a handbook for employers
to assist them in recruiting and accommodating persons with disabilities.
This practical resource will also be used to encourage employers to
develop potential employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
The project research results and the
employer's handbook will be presented at a conference sponsored by
the Minister's Council in the fall of 2004.
Members of the Minister's Council
on Employment for Persons with Disabilities
Don Avison, President, University Presidents'
Council of British Columbia
Maurizio Baldini, Coordinator, Peer
Support Program, South Okanagan-Similkameen Branch, Canadian Mental
Susan Brice, Minister of State for
Mental Health and Addiction Services
Robert Buchan, President, B.C. University
Bonnie Campbell, Vice-President, Human
Resources and Public Relations, Thrifty Foods
Robin Ciceri, Deputy Minister of Human
Alice Downing, Consultant, Trustee
of the BC Pulp and Paper Industry Health and Welfare Plan
Ron Drolet, Vice-President, Customer
Service and Corporate Secretary, BC Transit
Kevin Evans, Vice-President, Western
Canada, Retail Council of Canada
Stanley B. Hagen (Chair), Minister
of Human Resources
Rob Johnston, Vice President, Service
Delivery, Western Canada,Royal Bank of Canada
Mary Mahon Jones, CEO, Council of Tourism
Winston Leckie, Executive Director,
Clint Mahlman, Vice President, Human
Resources, London Drugs Limited
Michele Mawhinney, Director, Human
Resources, Vancouver International Airport Authority
David Park, Assistant Managing Director
and Chief Economist, Vancouver Board of Trade
Jim Reed, President, B.C. College Presidents
Bill Ross, Acting Assistant Deputy
Minister, British Columbia and Yukon Region, Human Resources and
Skills Development Canada
Sam Sullivan, Founder and Executive
Director, Tetra Society of North America, Disabled Sailing Association,
B.C. Mobility Opportunities Society, Vancouver Adapted Music Society,
ConnecTra Society and PHILIA
Mike Touchie, President, B.C. Aboriginal
Network on Disability Society
John Winter, President, B.C. Chamber