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Keynote Address to the Association of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research 2013 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences June 5, 2013 People with.

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Presentation on theme: "Keynote Address to the Association of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research 2013 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences June 5, 2013 People with."— Presentation transcript:

1 Keynote Address to the Association of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research 2013 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences June 5, 2013 People with disabilities and employment : If Canada’s aging population is a dark cloud, is the social economy a silver lining?

2 Objectives of my address 2 To comment on disability as a concept, lived reality, and social policy issue To link together current political thinking about population aging, labour markets, and people with disabilities in the Canadian context To better connect Social Economy studies and Disability Studies with the intention of enhancing analysis on the participation of people with disabilities in gainful and inclusive employment To offer some research directions and supportive policy initiatives

3 Outline of my remarks 3 1. Disability is a fluid and complex phenomenon as is the world of work and labour markets 2. Employing people with disability in inclusive and rewarding work remains a large challenge and unrealized objective of economic and social policy 3. A “policy window of opportunity” appears to be opening in Canada on this issue 4. Non-profits and social economy organizations already play some role in employing people with disabilities, though at times in problematic ways 5. More can be done in research and in public programming to advance the employment of disabled Canadians

4 What are disabilities? 4 One Canadian definition is that disability refers to people with a physical condition or mental condition or health problem that reduces the amount or kind of activities they can do at home, at work, school, in transportation, recreation and leisure, or other community endeavour As described in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: “physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

5 Canadians with disabilities 5 “ We are women and men, boys and girls, moms and dads, children and seniors, workers and the unemployed, students and teachers, leaders in our communities and recipients of services. We are long-time citizens and new Canadians, we are members of visible minority communities and Aboriginal and First Nations Peoples and we are people with disabilities. Disability is an issue of concern for all Canadians. At some point in our lives we all will use services built and designed to make Canada more accessible and inclusive.” Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Brief for Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance, People with Disabilities: Getting Beyond Being the Population in Waiting, April 5, 2013

6 An overview of disability 6 In 2006, people with disabilities made up 16.5% of the adult population 15 years and older in Canada, or nearly 4.2 million people Some 55% of adults with disabilities are women and 45% are men, compared with 50.7% and 49.3%, respectively, of people without disabilities 2.4 million working-age people with disabilities (aged 15-64) Of these working-age people with disabilities, 20.5% live below the “poverty line” compared to 10.2% of people without disabilities Significant number of people with disabilities across the country rely on social assistance, the last resort public safety net program

7 Labour market realities 7 Lower rate of labour force participation: 57.1% for people with disabilities v. 80.5% for people without disabilities Higher level of unemployment – 11.4% v. 7.0% in 2010 Underemployment more widespread Fewer weeks employed in the year – 26.8 v Reported workplace discrimination and human rights complaints Unmet need for job accommodations (13.5% in 2006) Precarious employment (more likely to have part-time, short- term work) Lower average employment income than people without disabilities who have similar levels of education Segregation for some people with disabilities within community agencies and sheltered workshops

8 Recent employment trends 8 Economic expansion: late 1990s to 2006 For people with disabilities the number of weeks worked in a year climbed from 24.1 in 1999 to 28.3 weeks in 2006 Employment rate climbed from 45.6% to 53.4% by 2006 Unemployment rate declined from 10.3% in 1999 to 8.0% in 2006 Labour force participation rate grew over this period from 50.8% to 58.1% Major recession and fragile recovery: For persons with disabilities in employment, weeks worked in a year dropped by 2010 to 26.8 weeks (compared to the unaffected 39.7 weeks for people with no disability) Number of hours worked also dropped reversing gains made in previous period Employment rate dropped, and unemployment rate grew to 11.4% in 2010 Labour force participation rate declined to 57.1% Notable regional differences: unemployment rate of 13.8% in Ontario v. 7.4% in Manitoba and Saskatchewan Overall, a weakening of work attachment and job security

9 The disability movement on work 9 Issues of concern: Systemic long-term unemployment and poverty Disabling attitudes, built environments, public policies, professional practices, and everyday actions and inactions High proportion of people receiving day programs or activity services that do not offer employment support options Conceptions of work: Important source of income as for most everyone else Critical of volunteer placements counting as work, sheltered workshops, and work enclaves Approving of open/competitive employment, customized employment, supported employment, and self-employment options “Real work for real pay” on an equal basis with others in conditions of acceptance, human dignity, equity, and security Workplace as a site of contributing, earning, connecting, and belonging Essential part of economic and social citizenship, with rights and responsibilities

10 The disability movement’s employment policy reform agenda New investments should be given to youth with disabilities ( years of age) in transition – moving from school to work 2. A range of initiatives and supports must be provided which include longer term supports for those with more complex needs (e.g. multiple disabilities) 3. Appropriate accommodations are critical to success 4. People with disabilities also require affirmative action programs that create incentives to work 5. Research must be undertaken on the changed nature of work and whether new barriers are being created for persons with disabilities 6. Government must lead by example and be a model employer Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Brief for Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance, People with Disabilities: Getting Beyond Being the Population in Waiting, April 5, 2013

11 Economic and Fiscal Implications of Canada’s Aging Population (2012) 11 Aging of Canadian population is soon to accelerate Share of population of working age will shrink over coming decades, with a fall in the employment rate Overall labour force participation rate has already peaked and will decline over next three decades Certain groups are under-represented in the labour force, especially people with disabilities, with a participation rate in of (57.2%) notably lower than Aboriginal peoples living off-reserves (75.0%), recent immigrants (77.1%), and less-skilled Canadians with high school or less (79.0%) These groups “represent an important resource, and increasing their workforce participation has the potential to boost Canada’s labour force growth and help minimize shortages in years to come”

12 Rethinking disAbility in the Private Sector (2013) 12 “...despite an aging population and looming labour skills shortage, this significant talent pool [of people with disabilities] is being overlooked.” About 795,000 working-aged people with disabilities who are not working and who want to work Of these people 340,000 have post-secondary education This report is directed at Canadian private sector employers and makes the “business case” for employing people with disabilities: noting benefits of an educated and talented group; improved company culture and reputation among public; greater employee loyalty and commitment; lower turnover rates (and thus reducing costs of training new employees); market to customer segments of people with disabilities Social enterprises and non-profits can be community partners in helping Canadian businesses in their hiring strategy of people with disabilities

13 Harper government initiatives for people with disabilities, $2 million investment to support creation of a Canadian Employers Disability Forum as recommended by the Rethinking disAbility report $7 million to SSHRC for research on disability and work Enabling Accessibility Fund now an ongoing program of $15 million per year as of to improve physical accessibility Opportunities Fund to be an ongoing program with $40 million per year as of and reformed “to provide more demand-driven training solutions... and more responsive to labour market needs” Negotiate a “new generation” of the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities (LMAPDs) of $222 million per year by April 2014 “to better meet the employment needs of businesses and improve the employment prospects for people with disabilities” along with “stronger accountability regimes in place” Announced Government support for a private Member’s motion on strengthening employment for Canadians with disabilities

14 Some policy-related observations 14 On these reports: Framed within population aging as threat, and labour market shortage discourses People with disabilities viewed as a untapped talent pool and significant resource for the market economy Rethinking disAbility report perhaps first at federal level to express a “business case” for employing disabled Canadians Some social policy recognition of the barriers to employment for people with disabilities On the Harper government measures: Issue definition is on demand-side, addressing the needs of businesses and the immediate requirements of the competitive labour market Goals are a mix of general ideas and specific aims Policy instruments are mainly procedural, symbolic and incremental spending

15 Windows of opportunity here for the social economy? 15 With these reports and recent announcements by the Harper government, there appear to be openings for non-profits and social enterprises to participate at various levels in processes of design and/or delivery of: the Opportunities Fund Enabling Accessibility Fund LMAPDs in individual provinces Canadian Employers Disability Forum SSHRC funding of research related to labour market participation of people with disabilities Questions of strategy then for disability groups and social economy organizations: How to shape issue definitions? Which proposals to put forward to gain attention of policy makers? Where to focus time and energy, and how to decide which issues to influence?

16 A social economy case for hiring and retaining people with disabilities 16 Helps expand the employment opportunities for under- represented groups in the competitive market economy, and therefore boost incomes of Canadians with disabilities and improve productivity growth Dispel myths about the limitations and risks of hiring people with a disability Share experiences and “best practices” on the hiring and retention of people with disabilities Express values of community service and inclusion Offer skills development and on-the-job training and mentorship Can represent social innovation and a mission-driven business investment approach

17 Research questions on social economy 17 How accessible are the workplaces of non-profits and social enterprises: physically, attitudinally, and in terms of individualized supports such as coaching, employment assistance and counselling, and also flexible job accommodations? How many social economy organizations have policies on inclusive practices concerning accessibility, disability, and equity? If so, on what range of matters? How do such policies actually work and are they monitored to ensure effective implementation? Are there agency processes for a regular review and discussion of such policies and practices? Who participates? What mechanisms and processes are in place (or should be) to foster the adoption of effective inclusive policies and practices in the sector?

18 Research questions on disability 18 After 30 years of attempting to enhance labour force participation for persons with disabilities, why do so many barriers and discriminatory practices still persist today? How is the nature of paid work changing that creates new opportunities and/or new obstacles for disabled Canadians ? Why is there a significant increase in the number of people with disabilities on provincial social assistance programs? What, for some individuals with significant impairments, are the key factors that contribute to their successful long-term employment? For working-age persons with disabilities, to what extent are social enterprises: an advance over sheltered workshops? An inclusive and destination workplace in themselves? Or an interim step toward employment in the competitive labour market?

19 Concluding thoughts 19 Employment in today’s competitive labour market is not possible for all persons with disabilities nor is it necessarily the labour market of choice for many people with or without disability Disability movement groups have preferences for certain labour market and work environments along with misgivings for a few others Non-profits and social economy organizations are an important employment option for people with disabilities However, the social economy is insufficiently recognized as a valuable sector or partner in recent public policy reports and disability policy announcements by the Harper government Links between social economy research and activities and disability studies and advocacy should be strengthened to mobilize on shared interests and reforms Employment alone is not the solution; policy actions on income benefits and personal support, among other measures, are critical for reducing the disproportionate poverty of Canadians with disabilities

20 Thank you 20 Michael J. Prince Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy Faculty of Human and Social Development University of Victoria


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