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