Alberta urged to review employment practices on PWDs

The report underscored situations where PWDs are treated unfairly

Alberta urged to review employment practices on PWDs

Advocates for persons with disabilities (PWD) are calling on Alberta to re-evaluate its employment standards to be more inclusive in hiring practices for PWDs.

The recommendation comes after the advocacy group, also known as Radical Inclusion, unveiled in its report several violations to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and other Human Rights Treaties.

"The reality is that rights are being contravened right not and there is an urgency for change; we are in crisis," the group said.

According to the report, there were violations found particularly on CRPD's Article 5: Equality and Non-Discrimination, Article 8: Awareness-raising, Article 16: Freedom from exploitation, violence, and abuse, as well as Article 27: Work and Employment.

Participants gathered for the report said there are situations when they felt underestimated and underemployed by employers and disability employment agencies. They also felt like they were expected to be thankful for getting a job regardless of how they feel about it.

"These factors lead to financial limitations, self-respect issues, and the person's ability to grow and contribute in society," the report read.

In addition, PWDs said they were also forced to take capacity tests that "challenged their dignity." They also reported feeling like tokens so a company could satisfy diverse hiring quotas. A couple of participants also revealed that their employers asked them to look for grants or subsidies based on disability so they could keep their job.

Read more: Spotlight on PWDs in the workplace

Suggestions to Alberta

Radical Inclusion is recommending a "provincial review of employment standards and practices for both employers and disability employment agencies" so employers could be educated on how to be more inclusive in their hiring practices.

The review will be led by a committee of PWDs, according to the group, which will examine different models of employment practices that "meaningfully accessible" and will include all people in the workplace.

"This committee will develop recommendations for policies and practices that will be followed and mandatory in Alberta," the report said.

The group is also advocating for more funding for mentorship programmes so people with disabilities could further voice their needs. Furthermore, they are urging for more leadership roles for PWD employees. They are also asking for more granting programmes so PWDs could develop their own businesses, and additional grants to employers for accommodations of people with disabilities.

Read more: Is your workplace PWD-friendly?

Radical Inclusion is made up 13 advocates, majority of whom are individuals who experience disability personally, while some have family members with disabilities. The group was facilitated by the John Humphrey Centre of Peace and Human Rights, with funding support from the Edmonton Community Foundation. Its leader facilitators are Roxanne Ulanicki and Renée Vaugeois.

Their goal is to submit their findings to the United Nations Treaty Body that is responsible for the rights of PWDs, as well as other relevant government agencies in Alberta and Canada. Their report also tackled issues on financial barriers, housing, healthcare, as well as Justice and Law Enforcement, saying that support systems for PWDs in Alberta are “fragmented, difficult to navigate, and often exclusive rather than inclusive.”

"The systems in Alberta, which this report speaks from, are set up to further disable and disenfranchise," it further said. "The challenge ahead is to deepen the understanding of ableism and to break down the barriers to accessing rights in a dignified manner."

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