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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Rebranding Disability as Opportunity

When you believe everyone has something to offer, the mission becomes one of helping them reach their maximum potential.
Not taking care of them. 
Not ignoring them. 
Empowering them.
It just so happens everyone does have something to offer - history tells the tale of marginalized people ranging from women to left-handed people to the hearing impaired fighting for the right to be full participants in society.  They add value every time they win, meaning the rest of us win, too.
Look at Stephen Hawking - in a different time, he would have been seen as a lost cause.  Look at Lisa Raitt - she turned a battle with post-partum depression into an opportunity to help others.  Do you wear glasses?  Then look in the mirror.  There was a time when you would've been a lost cause, too.
It's amazing how far we've come.  It's inspiring how much higher we can reach, when we build together.

From the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario:

October 2012
Improving the Employment Prospects of Social Assistance Recipients
Helping more people to realize their full potential and participate in the workforce to the maximum of their ability is a key focus of Brighter Prospects: Transforming Social Assistance in Ontario.  The report proposes a transformed system that emphasizes ability over disability, and recognizes the desire and potential of all social assistance recipients, including people with disabilities, to work.   Included in the report’s 108 recommendations are measures to improve the employment prospects of all recipients, as well as initiatives specific to people with disabilities.  They include:
·         New Pathway to Employment Plans, to be developed collaboratively between social assistance caseworkers and recipients.  These plans would set out recipients’ employment goals, and detail the actions expected from them, as well as the services and supports they can expect to receive to help them reach their goals.  Pathway to Employment Plans would be completed by all social assistance recipients and would replace the current Participation Agreements, which apply only to Ontario Works recipients.
·         Ensuring that the level of support provided would be proportional to the needs of each individual, reflecting that some social assistance recipients need only minimal help and find work quickly, while others need more intensive help to become employment-ready.
·         New provincial standards and best practices for employment services that would place a strong focus on understanding and meeting employers’ needs, job development, marketing the skills of social assistance recipients to employers and better post-employment support for employers and new employees.
·         Support for employer-driven initiatives and the establishment of employers councils designed to advise on employment services design and to facilitate testing of sector-specific models.
·         Support for alternative employment, including self-employment, social purpose enterprises and peer-led programs.  Alternative employment may provide greater flexibility for people with episodic disabilities or others who cannot work standard hours, as well as a more supportive work environment for people with little or no work experience.
Additional initiatives to assist people with disabilities to enter the workforce include:
·         Equitable access to the full range of employment services and other supports, including skills upgrading, training, housing and child care delivered though an integrated, locally delivered system for all social assistance recipients.
·         A provincial disability supplement to recognize higher living costs – provided initially in social assistance and then extended as a benefit outside social assistance to all low-income people with disabilities.  Providing this benefit outside social assistance to all low-income people with disabilities would help “make work pay” and eliminate a serious structural barrier to employment that is built into the current system.
·         A Provincial Partnership with corporate leaders to champion the hiring of people with disabilities.  Such a partnership could help generate awareness and support for more inclusive workplaces, help debunk myths and stereotypes, and leverage the impact of existing strategies in the business community.
·         Accelerating Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy with a focus on employment as a key outcome.  ODSP caseload is growing at five per cent per year; about 60 per cent of new cases involve mental illness as either a primary or secondary condition.
·         Hiring of more people with disabilities by the Province, municipalities, and not-for-profit organizations.

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