Or­ga­ni­za­tion that sup­ports job op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties of­fi­cially re-opens

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - By Ja­son G. An­to­nio - Moose Jaw Ex­press Re­porter

Erin Boisvert be­came emo­tional as she talked about how the Cana­dian Coun­cil on Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and Work (CCRW) has sup­ported her in find­ing em­ploy­ment that suits her abil­i­ties.

Boisvert — who has phys­i­cal and men­tal dis­abil­i­ties — be­gan us­ing CCRW’s ser­vices in De­cem­ber. It helped her at­tain a job with the City of Moose Jaw as a front desk staff mem­ber at the Yara Cen­tre. She has worked there since April.

“It’s good. Every­body is very friendly,” she said on May 14, dur­ing the CCRW’s grand re-open­ing. “It’s very pos­i­tive. I like it there a lot.”

The or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fers em­ploy­ment ser­vices — such as in­ter­view and job search skills, short-term train­ing and work­shops, and writ­ing cover let­ters and re­sumés — for job seek­ers with dis­abil­i­ties who face bar­ri­ers. It also works with em­ploy­ers and com­mu­nity-based or­ga­ni­za­tions to help res­i­dents with dis­abil­i­ties find mean­ing­ful and eq­ui­table em­ploy­ment.

It was a strug­gle to find em­ploy­ment for Boisvert, 40, even though she has an of­fice ed­u­ca­tion back­ground, she said dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion at 175 First Av­enue North­east. She was thank­ful for CCRW staff, in­clud­ing Chris Ras­mussen, job de­vel­oper, and Lizanne Knox-Beam, em­ploy­ment co-or­di­na­tor, and how awe­some her ex­pe­ri­ence has been.

“They help sup­port you to­ward a pos­i­tive fu­ture. And they don’t want you to just get a job and kick you out the door,” said Boisvert. “They want you to have a ca­reer

Any­time strug­gle, have their sup­port,” she added. “I have less doubt about my­self. I am more con­fi­dent.”

The Cana­dian Coun­cil on Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and Work ex­isted for six years in Moose Jaw, but it shut down last fall af­ter there was a change in fund­ing at the na­tional level, Ras­mussen ex­plained. How­ever, the Saskatchew­an gov­ern­ment and Labour Ser­vices Mar­ket in Moose Jaw saw the pro­gram’s po­ten­tial and pro­vided some fund­ing.

CCRW now helps 50 clients in Moose Jaw. It has helped 10 peo­ple find jobs since the of­fice re-opened in Fe­bru­ary. When the fund­ing was ini­tially elim­i­nated, “it al­most broke my heart,” said Mau­reen Haan, CCRW pres­i­dent and CEO. The or­ga­ni­za­tion has had a good ef­fect in many com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try. “CCRW is na­tional in scope but re­gional by de­sign,” she said. Last year, the com­pany helped 1,500 Cana­di­ans with dis­abil­i­ties find jobs.

Ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics Canada, 20 per cent of work­ing-age adults aged 25 to 64 — or 3.7 mil­lion peo­ple — are liv­ing with a dis­abil­ity.

The goal of CCRW is to shift hir­ing prac­tices away from a char­ity model, where it’s con­sid­ered the right thing to do to hire some­one with a dis­abil­ity, said Haan. In­stead, hir­ing prac­tices would fo­cus more on an “in­clu­sive, ef­fec­tive busi­ness mar­ket.” This makes it eas­ier for busi­nesses to find tal­ent, while it pro­vides a more ac­ces­si­ble job plat­form for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

CCRW works with clients to de­ter­mine when — or if at all — they should re­veal their dis­abil­ity to their em­ployer, said Ras­mussen. The or­ga­ni­za­tion sup­ports the pur­chase of equip­ment such as safety gear, while it also helps clients take ad­di­tional train­ing, such CPR, First Aid or WHMIS.

Many peo­ple agree that cre­at­ing a more in­clu­sive and di­verse work­places is im­por­tant, said Greg Lawrence, MLA for Moose Jaw Wakamow. It’s also im­por­tant to pro­mote strate­gies and ser­vices that elim­i­nate bar­ri­ers. That is why the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment cre­ated a com­pre­hen­sive dis­abil­i­ties strat­egy in June 2015. “It’s im­por­tant to rec­og­nize in­clu­sive em­ploy­ment and high­light op­por­tu­ni­ties in the pos­i­tive eco­nomic hir­ing of peo­ple of all abil­i­ties,” he added. “The eco­nomic case for in­clu­sive em­ploy­ment is clear.” For more in­for­ma­tion on CCRW, visit www.ccrw.org or call 306-693-1761.

Lizanne Knox-Beam, em­ploy­ment co-or­di­na­tor, and Chris Ras­mussen, job de­vel­oper, speak dur­ing the CCRW’s grand re-open­ing on May 14. Photo by Ja­son G. An­to­nio

Erin Boisvert speaks about how the Cana­dian Coun­cil on Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and Work sup­ported her in find­ing a job. Photo by Ja­son G. An­to­nio

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