Contrary to popular belief, the employment standard in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) does not compel organizations to hire people with disabilities. The real question is: Why wouldn’t employers hire them anyway?
A recent study shows 20 per cent of employees with a disability require no accommodation at all, and the average cost for those who do is just $500, according to The Path to 2025: Ontario’s Accessibility Action Plan.
More than 40 per cent of Ontarians with disabilities have postsecondary education. And workers with disabilities have better retention and productivity rates, says the action plan.
Ontario is also facing a growing labour shortage and could face a shortfall of 364,000 workers by 2025, according to the Conference Board of Canada.
“It’s really important the labour pool of people with disabilities has access to the jobs that are out there, because companies need the talent,” says Louie DiPalma of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, noting 30 per cent of businesses recently surveyed by the OCC had difficulty filling a position.
“No matter how you slice it, there is a skills gap out there, or a skills mismatch.”
As well, the Ontario Community Loans Program offers small and medium-sized business owners discounted rates when they hire people with disabilities.
“One of the first obstacles in accessibility is attitude, and changing your attitude doesn’t cost anything,” says Judith Parisien, director of Le Phénix, a non-profit organization in Alfred, ON., that helps people with disabilities.