Unleashing the Employment Potential of Persons with Disabilities
Persons with disabilities represent a largely overlooked workforce in Manitoba. Of the 87,120 Manitobans with disabilities between the ages of 15 and 64, a full 35,000 are either unemployed or are not actively seeking paid employment. Thousand more are underemployed. That is an incredible waste of human and economic potential.
Research shows that persons with disabilities are work-competent, reliable, and hard-working individuals. Research also demonstrates that accommodations provided to employees with disabilities typically cost little or nothing while contributing to higher staff retention, increased productivity and improved organizational culture and climate.
The accessible employment standard under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act, if effective will help remove many of the employment barriers faced by persons with disabilities. However, nationally and internationally we’ve seen that these standards alone aren’t enough. That’s because:
- The design and delivery of some government programs actually discourage persons with disabilities from seeking employment.
- Current government systems and services struggle to support a successful transition from high school to work life.
- Lack of accommodations, stigma and systemic low levels of expectations for persons with disabilities continue to limit opportunities and access to resources in our schools, colleges and universities.
- Many employers continue to hold misconceptions and misunderstandings about the capabilities and potential of persons with disabilities.
- Inclusive, community based employment services for Manitobans with intellectual disabilities are marginal add ons to the current continuum of service options.
With a significant labour shortage forecast in Manitoba in the decades ahead, government needs to provide stronger leadership to realize the employment potential of persons with disabilities.