Post contributed by Rob Furlong, Job Developer for the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work
December 3rd will be the 29th annual International Day of Person with Disabilities (IDPD). Proclaimed in 1992 by the UN General Assembly the IDPD aims to promote an understanding of barriers faced by people living with disabilities, and the action being taken to support the dignity, rights, and well-being of those individuals.
The theme for this year’s IDPD is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.” This is a fitting theme, as one of the largest barriers people living with disabilities still face is equal access to meaningful and dignified employment opportunities. In many cases the COVID 19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues, but it has also presented opportunities for increased inclusion and accessibility in Canadian workplaces.
Survey data throughout the pandemic shows that individuals living with disabilities have been faced with a more difficult time finding steady employment than those without disabilities. The effects of this have strengthened the already pervasive issue of under and unemployment within this demographic and has caused increased financial insecurity for many individuals and families. The financial recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic thus far has been unequal, with many individuals living with disabilities, who are disproportionally low-income earners, struggling with a dramatically increased cost of living. Increased government supports have alleviated some of these difficulties, but they have done little to address the systemic issues at the heart of this problem.
It’s not all bad news though. The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to create new opportunities for inclusion in the workplace. The way we approach work has fundamentally changed for many of us. Hybrid work arrangements, an increased focus on workplace health and wellbeing, and a greater acceptance of taking time to foster improved physical and mental health have all created pathways for increased inclusion and accessibility. The last year-and-a-half has caused many businesses and organizations to rethink how they approach health focused accommodation. These accommodations are highly applicable when providing accessible employment opportunities, and policies reflecting these accommodations can go a long way in removing barriers for everyone.
We are at a crucial crossroad regarding accessibility in the workplace. As with any global event, the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to be a great catalyst of change, but that change cannot happen without the commitment of enterprising businesses and individuals. This commitment doesn’t have to be unsupported either, as there are dozens of organizations providing educational and financial support to develop a more inclusive employment landscape here in Winnipeg. The opportunity to build a more equitable community is right in front of us, we just need to help it along.
Hear Rob speak at our next CODE 101 on December 14.
Rob Furlong is the Winnipeg based Job Developer for the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work. For more information on the CCRW and the supports they offer to both businesses and individuals please go to ccrw.org or contact Rob directly at [email protected].
Tuesday, December 14, 2021 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
FREE TO ATTEND
CODE 101’s will provide an overview of The Chamber’s newest program – Commitment to Opportunity, Diversity and Equity (CODE). CODE aims to provide organizations with impactful strategies, guidance, and connections to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in your workplace. Learn more about the program, and how we can support you on your DEI journey!