Report: Canadian workers with disabilities outline challenges at work

'As the age of Canada's workforce increases over the next decade, so too will the number of workers with disabilities'

Report: Canadian workers with disabilities outline challenges at work

Workers with disabilities are struggling to rise in Canadian organizations, according to a report from George Brown College.

Overall, 51% of these workers belong to the “Bottom Rungers” segment of workers – those who are in the early stages of their professional occupations, according to the report. 

In contrast, just 26% of the general working population belong to this segment.

Also, just 6% of workers with disabilities belong to “The Comfortable” segment – those who feel that their career provides a sense of satisfaction, stimulation and fulfillment.

(Insert photo: Workers with disabilities - segment, satisfaction)

The biggest percentage of workers with disabilities in George Brown College’s survey work in the clerical/administrative sector (15%). Many also work in:

  • retail (12%)
  • health and welfare (11%)
  • education, management and labour (all 10%).

Recently, Manitoba launched the Improving Quality of Life Employment Pilot Project to help people with learning disabilities find meaningful employment.

Workers with disabilities' experience in the workplace

And few workers with disabilities feel that they get the support that they need from their coworkers, according to George Brown College's survey of 900 workers with disabilities across Canada.

Overall, 34% perceive their work colleagues to be “very” helpful, enabling them to be as productive and valuable to the organization as one possibly can be and 36% find their colleagues to be “somewhat” supportive.

However, 14% report their colleagues as “not really” (8%) or “not at all” supportive (5%). The remainder (16%) are not sure or do not know.

"As the age of Canada's workforce increases over the next decade, so too will the number of workers with disabilities," says Dr. Jon Callegher, professor at Centre for Business at George Brown University. "The more we learn about the distinct challenges and aspirations of workers with disabilities, the better we can build more inclusive and supportive workplaces, especially in the private sector."

With their experiences in the workplace, workers with disabilities most often feel focused (38%), self-confident (36%) and appreciated (33%).

However, many also feel stressed (36%), fatigued (32%) and frustrated (30%).

Last year, Ontario invested $6.5 million to support five innovative projects to help more than 3,770 people with disabilities find jobs with businesses in their communities.

How can employers maximize workers with disabilities’ potential?

Respondents in the George Brown College’s survey suggest that employers can do the following to maximize workers with disabilities' potential:

(Insert photo: Supporting workers with disabilities)

Here are some tips you can utilize at your organization to ensure all your employees feel included in the workplace, according to People Keep, a provider of benefits administration software:

  1. Make your hiring process more accessible.
  2. Design a benefits package that supports employees with disabilities.
  3. Create a safe and inclusive work environment.
  4. Prioritize accommodations and accessibility.
  5. Provide training to educate your employees.
  6. Gather employee input.

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