Untying the Knots: Furthering Decent New Employment After the Advent of Work-Limiting Disability
Crawford, Cameron James
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For many years, people with disabilities have been about two-thirds as likely as people without disabilities to be employed in Canada. The employment rate of some people with disabilities has persistently hovered at around one-third the rate of non-disabled people. Financial estimates of the cost of this problem in Canada differ considerably, but are on the order of many billions of dollars annually. The human costs are also major. This issue is enmeshed in a tangle of theories about disablement that can point in very different directions in terms of understanding the nature of the issue, some solutions that would address it, and the policy and program implications. For example, there is the interplay between disability and peoples age, gender, visible minority and Aboriginal person status. Different rates of employment flow from whether people experience impairment effects in the areas of mobility, seeing, hearing, cognition or emotional well-being; many people contend with impairment effects across several functional domains. Peoples geographic locations and the vagaries of regional economies need to be factored into the picture, as do the effects of social assistance and other income support programs. Peoples employment history, their needs for job accommodations, and whether those needs have been addressed, are crucial considerations that can vary according to type of disability, the nature of the work to be performed, and employer attitudes, values and fiscal capacity. Peoples educational attainment and job-specific skills training also have a major bearing on employment trajectories. This research begins to untie the knot that binds these factors into an often-confusing conceptual, policy and program tangle. It identifies some of the key factors that most strongly predict whether people are likely to obtain decent work with their first employer or with a new employer after the advent of work-limiting disability. An aim of the research is to suggest areas for focusing policy and program efforts in order to maximize positive employment outcomes for such individuals, employers and the broader employment system. The research draws extensively from scholarly and administrative literature and from Statistics Canadas Canadian Survey on Disability of 2012.