Employment discrimination for Canadians with disabilities.

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The disabled population in Canada has always had to overcome many obstacles in order to gain equality.  In the Canadian work force, most disabled people had to fight poor health and exclusion.  To illustrate how inequality in the Canadian workforce has affected the disabled population in the past and present, I will be examining the state of the Canadian disabled work force.

In 2006, people with disabilities were less educated, older, more likely to have fair or poor health, and lived alone.   These factors made it very difficult to keep any type of employment and made the unemployment rate of the disabled people high.

pic1In fact, according to the 2006 study on Education, Employment, and Income of Adults With and Without Disabilities from Statistics Canada Table, 8.6% of persons reporting a disability were unable to work.

There are many reasons why the unemployment rate for disabled people is so high, such as:  more working hours for the able bodied people, no training/education for employment for the disabled people, and lower pay for the disabled people.  These inequalities create barriers between disabled people and the rest of the work force.

Available Work: 

Disabled and non-disabled people have different work patterns.  On average  men with disabilities work 15 weeks fewer each year than able-bodied men, while women with disabilities worked 11 to 13 fewer weeks than able-bodied women.  These differences  make it harder for the people with disabilities to establish solid working relationships with fellow employees which can create a feeling of exclusion for the disabled person and certainly means he or she will earn a much lower income.

Annual average hours gap between persons with and without a disability

  Men Women
Gross hours Adjusted hours Gross hours Adjusted hours
No Disability 1,808.7 1,284.1 1,206.1 993.3
Disability 1,203.3 750.2 733.7 556.1
Gap in annual hours -605.4 -533.9 -472.4 -437.2
Gap in weekly full-time equivalent -14.8 -13.1 -11.6 -10.7
Statistics Canada, Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, 2006.

Training and Education for the Disabled People:

The lack of available training opportunities for the disabled population is a huge issue and pic5one of the most common forms of inequality.  Eighty three percent of the disabled people cited that they wanted training for their current or future employment, but were  unable to do so because the cost was too high or because some employers would not accommodate for their disability.  This inequality has caused the disabled population to suffer financially and it has increased their unemployment rate.

Lower Pay

In Canada, disabled people currently earn 75 cents for every dollar earned by an able bodied employee.  This pay gap is not only unfair and it is causing a crisis for the disabled population. Without the extra money to help cover the costs of medical supplies and adapted equipment they face increased unemployment and worsening health, which then leads disabled people to be excluded from society.

Exclusion

Exclusion in the workplace is a major problem for Canadians with disabilities.  Some solutions include changes to income support programs, employer support for workplace accommodations, and government programs to protect the disabled people by encouraging inclusionary practices and programs.

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People with disabilities still face inequality in the work force, but there has been considerable change to help the disabled population:

  • The federal and provincial governments have created community and employment support programs
  • Disability rights organizations advocate to ensure that the disabled population is included in the workplace and this has influenced union bargaining priorities.
  •  The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities and the Equality Rights Section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees people with disabilities equal benefits and protection before and under the law (Council of Canadians with Disabilities 2013)

These developments have made people more aware of the inequality issues facing the disabled population which has helped create change.

A perfect example is Mark Wafer:

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He is the owner of  seven Tim Horton’s franchises and he hired over fifty disabled workers and urged fellow business executives to do the same.

pic11Unfortunately, more changes are needed to end this ongoing problem.  The inequality of the disabled people in the workplace has to end because it is discrimination, which is against the law.  The bottom line is that the economic and social inclusion of persons with disabilities requires a lot of work from the governments,  businesses, schools, community agencies, and the individuals themselves.  Together we can stop the inequality facing disabled people in the workplace.

— Jonathon Pittman

References:

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-001-x/2009105/pdf/10865-eng.pdf  Employment Among the Disabled, Diane Galarneau and Marian Radulescu

http://actionplan.gc.ca/en/initiative-section/persons-disabilities Canada’s Economic Action Plan, Persons with Disabilities 2013

http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/society/disabled-income.aspx Conference board of Canada, income of people with disabilities

http://www.blindcanadians.ca/publications/cbm/8/accommodating-disabilities-canadian-workplace A.E.B.C official website, accommodating disabilities in the workplace

http://www.ccdonline.ca/en/humanrights/ Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Human Rights 2013

http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/audiences/disabilities/benefits.shtml service Canada, income assistance for people with disabilities

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One Response to Employment discrimination for Canadians with disabilities.

  1. Pingback: Who was left out on Equal Pay Day? | DECSA

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