Dr. Michael J. Prince and Ross Chilton: Do you need help? People with disabilities are ready

Opinion: People with developmental disabilities have proven invaluable employees in any setting, including many settings across the province that are now forced to cut hours of operation due to staffing shortages.

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According to recent news, if you are a small or medium business owner in BC, you will most likely need more employees. Urgently. And you need employees who can adapt to changing customer demands as we move toward recovery.


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BC has a largely untapped group of people who are ready and motivated to help. Many are willing to start in the flexible jobs that employers need to maintain and adjust operations during this uncertain period of the pandemic.

Who are they? They are friends, family, and community members who have a disability.

The British Columbia government has proclaimed September as Disability Employment Awareness Month, and the timing couldn’t be better. Community Living BC serves more than 24,000 adults with developmental disabilities, many of whom are ready, willing, and able to help businesses, public service organizations, and nonprofits that need reliable workers back home.

BC employers already know the value of inclusive hiring. Years ago, a group of 25 British Columbia leaders driven by change formed the President’s Group to promote more accessible and inclusive workplaces. According to the research they post on their website, www.accessibleemployers.ca, companies that employ people with disabilities are twice as likely to meet financial goals, six times more likely to be innovative, and six times more likely to anticipate effective change.


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Thanks to the growing community of accessible employers, and thanks to Inclusion BC campaigns like Ready, Willing and Able, and MentorAbility, and the efforts of WorkBC and CLBC employment service providers, the number of people we serve that report an income doubled to more than 5,000 just before the COVID 19 pandemic. It was still a fraction of those who wanted a job. But as a society, we were on the right track.

COVID, however, has had a disproportionate impact on the employment of people with disabilities. Now they need to get their jobs back and find new jobs.

The provincial government recently provided a $ 10 million investment in employment services to help some 1,100 people with disabilities who are served by CLBC and who lost their jobs during the pandemic. This means that right now, the province’s employment service agencies are reaching out to employers large and small to provide qualified candidates for the job.


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These potential new hires are resourceful, eager to work, and will stay with an organization longer. They will also be strong ambassadors for companies in a difficult time.

People with developmental disabilities have proven to be invaluable employees in any environment, including office management, restaurant, hospitality, construction, manufacturing, and technology companies. These are among the many work environments across the province that are now forced to cut hours of operation due to staff shortages.

If you are faced with this challenge, consider the following: Many people with a diverse range of abilities and skills are ready to respond to your signs of need for help today. Check out the groups listed above, find the employment service providers in your local community, and make the call. People with disabilities are willing to do their part to help our companies and our province recover. They are only looking for the opportunity to contribute and be part of an inclusive economic recovery.

Dr. Michael J. Prince is Chairman of the Board, Ross Chilton is CEO of Community Living BC

Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected].The editor of the editorial pages is Hardip Johal, who can be contacted at [email protected].

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