People with mental and physical disabilities represent a growing share of the Canadian workforce. A workshop in Sidney will provide employers with a deeper understanding of disability issues and how to address them. (Black Press File).

Sidney session highlights work opportunities for people with physical or mental disabilities

Information session scheduled for Friday at SHOAL Centre

A Sidney councillor believes local employers can help fill local labour gaps by reaching out to individuals with disabilities.

Coun. Terri O’Keeffe made that observation as the Victoria Disability Resource Centre hosts a special information session Friday to highlight local opportunities for people with physical or mental disabilities.

The SHOAL Centre is hosting the session running from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Interested parties should register with Jennifer VanEs at the Shoal Centre jvanes@beaconcs.ca.

While many Greater Victoria employers struggle to find employees, the issue appears especially critical in Sidney, she said, in pointing to labour statistics, starting with Sidney’s labour participation rate, the share of the population employed or seeking employments.

It stands at 48 per cent, a reflection of Sidney’s older demographics, compared to 64 per cent for the rest of the region. These figures mean Sidney’s labour pool is shallower than elsewhere in the region, she said. So it makes sense for employers to sense to reach out to all sectors of the population to fill job vacancies, she added.

Individuals with physical or mental disabilities, meanwhile, are eager to work, but employers tend to ignore them at their own peril, given their numbers.

RELATED: New report shows effects of Canada’s aging workforce

According to Statistics Canada, 22 per cent of the Canadian population aged 15 years and over – or about 6.2 million individuals – had one or more disabilities in 2017.

While their participation rates has changed over time, the figures still show a massive difference between participation rates for person with disabilities and those without.

In 2011, 55 per cent persons with disabilities worked, compared with 84 per cent for persons without a disability. By 2017, the respective numbers had changed to 59 per cent, and 80 per cent.

O’Keeffe acknowledged that some employers may hesitate to hire persons with disabilities for various reasons, including lack of knowledge about disability and accommodation issues, costs and legal obligations.

She added this information session will provide employers with a deeper understanding of disability issues and how to address them.


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