Unleashing the Employment Potential of Persons with Disabilities
More than 35,000 Manitobans with disabilities between the ages of 15 and 64 are unemployed, underemployed, or have given up their search for meaningful work. The Department of Families Community Living disAbility Service (CLDS) determined that only 5% of CLDS clients in Manitoba earn at least minimum wage and work at least 20 hours per week.
Recent studies demonstrate that people with disabilities rated average or better than their non-disabled colleagues on job performance, attendance, and work safety. Hiring employees with disabilities is a proven investment in retaining experienced staff, increasing productivity, and improving organizational culture.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act can help remove employment barriers, but standards are not enough, because:
- The design and delivery of some government programs actually discourage people with disabilities from seeking employment.
- Current government systems and services struggle to support peoples’ successful transitions from high school to work life.
- Many employers hold misconceptions about the capabilities and potential of people with disabilities.
- Education systems perpetuate low expectations of people with disabilities, which limits access to opportunities and resources.
The Manitoba government must overcome this enormous waste of human and economic potential. With a significant labour shortage forecast in Manitoba in the decades ahead, government needs to provide stronger leadership to realize the employment potential of persons with disabilities.