Transforming Systems - a New Approach

Employment and Persons with Disabilities

Transforming Systems - a New Approach

November 1, 2013

A Consensus Exists: Creating greater employment opportunities for persons with disabilities is not only the right thing to do; it makes good economic sense.  A win/win opportunity exists and can be realized.  However, it must be recognized that not all persons with disabilities are able to work and adequate income security is critically important to many Canadians with disabilities.

1. Preamble:

Critical to successfully addressing the massive unemployment and under-employment of persons with disabilities is collaboration and coordination between all stakeholders- federal/ provincial/territorial governments, employers, unions and persons with disabilities and their organizations.  Success will only be achieved if systemic barriers are removed and individual disability accommodations are assured.  Beyond collaboration and appropriate accommodation, programs are required that create new incentives to assist people with disabilities acquire skills and training and employers both large and small must be encouraged to make their labour force more inclusive.

2. Developing a New Approach: Transformation and Incentives.

Federal/Provincial/Territorial governments must collaboratively develop a new 5 year Strategic Plan to address employment needs of persons with disabilities and help remove disincentives to labour market participation.   The upcoming Federal/Provincial/Territorial Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Employment and the Government of Canada’s stated objective of transforming” the Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities (LMAPD) create a new opportunity. 

Today’s labour market is fundamentally different than that of 30 years ago when employment service supports for persons with disabilities were first developed.  A New Approach requires adjusting program design and delivery to address the current labour market which is much more fluid.  In today's labour market, fewer employment benefits are attached to jobs which are more frequently contract, part time and term employment.  Commentary on employment insecurity is now part of a public dialogue. 

A critical analysis is required to transform outmoded service delivery systems that provide no affirmative action component but only offset the additional costs of disability.  It is of equal concern that many current service systems do not respond to the labour market realities or the expectations of persons with disabilities in 2013. 

CCD calls on F/P/T/ Ministers responsible for Employment to begin a “transformative” process that engages all stakeholders.  Doing more of the same will not create outcomes that will assist in lifting people with disabilities out of poverty, improving our economy or addressing  identified labour shortages now or in the near future.  Consultations must be held with the disability community to determine the parameters and desired outcomes of the New Approach.  

Immediate actions:  

  • First priority for "new investments" should be given to youth (18-30) in transition – moving from school to work.  Support must not be diminished for others seeking to enter the labour market – older persons just experiencing disability, those seeking to re-enter the labour force, etc.
  • Develop a range of employment initiatives and supports which include longer term supports for those with more complex needs (multiple disabilities, greater experience of discrimination, Aboriginal People, and women ).  Current accountability regimes penalize those with complex needs.
  • Establish a collaborative supported task group representative of the disability community and other stakeholders to “transform” the LMAPD.
  • Federal and Provincial Governments must lead through action and become a model employer with a target of ensuring that persons with disabilities comprise 7% of their labour force across departments in both front line and management positions.

3. Research must be supported to:

  • identify labour market participation by disability group, age and gender,
  • determine why there has been a 38% increase between 2005 and 2010 in the participation rate of persons with disabilities in income assistance programs,
  • identify the changed nature of work and whether new barriers are being created for persons with disabilities,
  • develop indicators for measuring success that take into account those with more complex needs and experiencing multiple barriers.
  • employment supports must also include support for self-employment.

Current barriers to employment have been well documented over the years.  Employment and Social Development Canada should create a user friendly report highlighting current barriers and best practices to overcome these barriers.

4. Labour market initiatives

The Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities (LMAPD) and the Opportunities Fund must be transformed and expanded.

Targets for the employment of persons with disabilities must be established within Labour Market Agreements with the provinces and territories

Expansion should include new funding allocations for regional demonstration projects that engage all stakeholders.  This fund should grow over time, recognizing that LMAPD funding has remained static in real terms for many years.

Consideration should be a given to an expanded federal contribution providing a 75%/25% split in cost-shared funding for designated new “transformative” employment initiatives.

Transformation includes funding service delivery mechanisms that respond both to current labour market needs and the contemporary aspirations and needs of persons with disabilities.

Performance indicators must be established within LMA reporting mechanisms to highlight the employment initiatives regarding persons with disabilities.