Voices from Thunder Bay: Employer Engagement and Social Economy

Voices from Thunder Bay: Employer Engagement and Social Economy


David Shannon: Hello Are we on the verge of a new era of inclusion and employability? I truly hope so. [music] David: There would simply be no work for me. A BA just would not be enough for me to be
employed and definitely now as a person with a rather significant disability. Judi Vinni: It was very organic. It wasn’t like we said ‘Oh, we should start
training people with disabilities.’ Marilyn Grudniski: As an employer, I shouldn’t
have been waiting for somebody to come and say, ‘We’ll give you some extra money so you
can do this.’ When I really thought about it, it made sense
that we should be doing that all the time. David: Cookie cutter doesn’t work for disabled
persons, but it doesn’t work for the diversity of the workplace and that is where the talent
is. [music] Marilyn: Hanna came to us as a co-op student
and it was her high school placement and after that she began working for us as a nap assistant
and then we saw the great potential with her and over the years increased her duties and
gave her more responsibilities. [music] Hanna: With a learning disability it’s just
something that they have to learn differently and in a different way. [child inaudible] Hanna: Doctors told my mom that I wouldn’t
be able to do a lot of things that people thought that they can do and regular people
that they would be able to do. [music] David: It will I think, collectively often
have to go down to a micro level. It’s got to be meaningful and committed and
come from all sectors. Now if you look broadly across Ontario, I’ve
only found my colleagues and my clients to be absolutely wonderful in their respect,
in their collegiality in a sense of a common duty to the work we do as officers of the
court. But at the same time, the institutions that
are created within the law are not terribly welcoming to persons with disabilities. [music] Marilyn: It’s always helpful if the person
discloses up front so then you can find, you can put the supports in place. Hanna: Marilyn gave me this opportunity to
work here, as an educator. David: A willingness of employers to just
engage at that micro level with a prospect. Judi: We met this young man who said he wanted
to learn how to make bread and we’re like ‘Hey! We’re going to have a farmer’s market, why
don’t you come?’ And so he was our first trainee and it changed
his life, it was like his life changed. Marilyn: I think there are going to be big
changes coming. Certainly the AODA with the different regulations
coming out is changing that picture. David: If you can be open to those individuals
and receptive to them, it’s going to be good for business. We all have a reality that we have to navigate,
that we have to develop our own strategies to. Marilyn: We’ve had excellent employees who
have disabilities and if we were to dismiss them because of that, it would’ve been a loss
to our organization. David: This is very much part of the future. Diversity is part of the future and people
living with a disability are part of that diversity. [music builds up]

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