The federal government is looking to make Canada’s workforce more inclusive by providing funding for six organizations across the country that aim to support workers with disabilities.
Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, visited Ethos Career Management Group in Nanaimo on Thursday, June 1, to announce a $16-million investment in programs that offer training and work opportunities for Canadians living with disabilities.
Along with funding for Ethos’ Skills Quest 4 Success project, an online course which focuses on personal employability skills such as communication, digital skills and creativity, the minister also announced an additional $3 million to enable Ethos to establish an Entrepreneurs on the Rise program targeted to self-employment for women with disabilities.
“More employers need to recognize the importance of disability inclusion in their work…” said Qualtrough. “We won’t reach our full economic potential unless every we remove all the barriers and the obstacles faced by this untapped talent pool. In a time of labour shortage, it couldn’t be more necessary or relevant to take that big step as an employer and confidently hire, and you will reap the rewards.”
Th minister pointed to a study from the Conference Board of Canada that found that if 850,000 Canadians with disabilities who are currently either unemployed or underemployed had barriers removed to allow them to participate fully in the workforce, “you’ve got a two-per cent bump in the GDP.”
Partnered with Community Futures B.C., the Entrepreneurs on the Rise project will provide approximately 200 women with disabilities in B.C. an opportunity to create and implement their own business concepts and plans over two years. A news release said the participants will get access to fundamental skills that will enable them to confidently launch their own businesses.
Deborah Bromley, CEO of Ethos, said she researched women with disabilities for her masters degree and research showed that women face greater challenges and different challenges then men in the workforce.
“While there’s still barriers for women, what the research has shown is programs like this one will help them overcome the barriers…” she said. “One of the two ways that women can come out of poverty and become employees is through entrepreneurship or self-employment, and mentorship, and our program has both.”
Along with Ethos, other beneficiaries of the funding include the Saskatchewan Abilities Council, Team Work Cooperative, CBDC Resigouche, Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and the Canada Safety Council.