Survey Results Are In: Accessible Canada Act

On September 25, 2019, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Reena ran an Education Update and Candidate Roundtable highlighting the unanimous passage of Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act (ACA).

We also conducted a survey, circulated by the two host organizations and Accessible Media Inc, trying to understand where education is needed on ACA and prioritize improvements to Bill c-81 both during and after the elections.

Analysis of the survey results could be found HERE 

We are providing the preliminary side-by-side analysis of the Accessible Canada Act Survey; both results shared at the 9/25 Candidates Forum, as well as the results generated from a second publicity push from Accessible Media Inc.

3 Major takeaways are:

  • More education is needed to explain ACA and to differentiate between Federal & Provincial responsibility
  • A consensus is developing as to the priorities of Bill C-81 improvements, and suggested approaches
  • There is a Canada-wide interest in improving the ACA / Bill C-81

Going forward, and independent of the results of the October 21, 2019 Federal election, insights generated from this survey will be relevant to the national effort to improve and strengthen Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act.

Additional Information

Panel of Experts Education Session Recording (45 min)

Candidates Roundtable (1 hour) 

Post Session Podcast – Original Air Date September 26, 2019 by Accessible Media Inc

Comparison of the positions of the six major federal political parties on achieving accessibility

AODA Alliance has been seeking election commitments on advancing the cause of “Accessibility” for over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada.

Summary of Federal Election Platforms – Issue by Issue Comparison

Have further questions regarding the above? please contact Fred Winegust, Government Relations, Reena –

Please note… Neither Reena nor Holland Bloorview support or oppose any party or candidate in the upcoming Federal Election.

Holland Bloorview and Reena profile Bill C-81 during federal election

On September 25, 2019, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Reena ran an Education Update and Candidate Roundtable highlighting the unanimous passage of Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act (ACA).

Left to right
Ian Prittie - Peoples Party Candidate – Don Valley West
Gary Gladstone - Liberal Party Candidate – Thornhill
Stewart Wong – Holland Bloorview – VP Communications
David Leopofsky – AODA Alliance - Volunteer Chair
Meenu Sikand – Holland Bloorview – Executive Lead – Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Rabia Kehdr – Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities - Founder
Gavy – Holland Bloorview – Children’s Ambassador
Sarah Climenhaga – Green Party Candidate – Toronto St. Pauls
Fred Winegust – Reena - Stakeholder Relations
Laurel MacDowell – NDP Candidate – Don Valley West
Absent – John Barlow – Conservative MP and Candidate - Foothills

The session educated the attendees on the importance of the ACA, its potential outcomes and provided an opportunity to hear directly from candidates on their parties’ implementation strategies if elected to government.

Prior to the evening Reena and Holland Bloorview conducted a survey among attendees, trying to understand the current knowledge and perceptions with regards to the implementation of the ACA.

Reena and Holland Bloorview have partnered with Accessible Media Inc (AMI) to take the survey to a national level, between October 2, 2019 and October 16, 2019.

Together, we are using this survey to determine if more education on the ACA is needed nationally.

Complete the Survey HERE.

AMI is a not-for-profit media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Operating three broadcast services, AMI-tv and AMI-audio in English and AMI-télé in French, AMI’s vision is to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal.

We would also like to provide all parties running in the October 21, 2019 Federal Election with a public perspective on how to improve the Accessible Canada Act.

Please take the time to complete this 5 to 7 minute survey by October 16, 2019.




Dear Joanna,

I have applied countless times for a receptionist position with staffing agencies and recruitment companies. I have never received any response. Not even a phone call! I really don’t understand how they operate. Please could you explain how I can work effectively with recruiters in my field? I am part of a supported employment program for youth with developmental disabilities at Reena and my job coach suggested that I reach out to you with this question.

Signed: Recruiter Resistance

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Resistance,

To help answer your question, I consulted with a leader in the industry, Raffi Toughlouian, Vice President at IFG – International Financial Group, as well as the job coaches from Reena’s Supported Employment Service (RSES) for youth with developmental disabilities. They have clarified some of the confusion around the role of recruiters in the job search process, and tips on how to work effectively with recruiters:

  • Understand the business. Recruiting firms may be known as placement/outplacement firms, search firms, “temp” agencies (for temporary work), or recruiting/consulting firms. The staff may be called recruiters or “head hunters.” They commonly field offers of work for many occupations. Some specialize in specific professionals especially IT, supply chain, administration, accounting/finance, architecture, financial services, healthcare, marketing, creative, information technology, engineering and executive positions. Fee structures vary for different companies – but in all cases, a recruiter is paid by the employer. THE AGENCY SHOULD NOT CHARGE YOU for work they do on your behalf. Remember that the recruiter is working for the employer. . Typically, on-site job coaching that is part of the supported employment programs is not allowed. There may be exceptions to this but I would check with the recruiter first. Off-site job coaching is an option for you to consider to help you with preparing for the interview and handling any on-the-job issues.
  • Be ready. Recruiting firms work quickly. You cannot bring in a job coach. Remember, the recruiter only makes money from their “client” (employer)” if you are placed. If the recruiter feels your resume and/or social media profiles meet the qualifications of their “client” (employer), you will be invited in to be interviewed and potentially tested for work that is technical or office related. This is usually done before the interview with the prospective employer. You can be recruited on LinkedIn. Your resume may be requested after an interview if at all.
  • Do your research. Often, successful recruiters specialize in one particular profession/area of expertise and are subject matter experts in those fields. Therefore, job-seekers should identify companies and positions they are specifically qualified for and seek out recruiters who work with them. This is especially true for upper management roles, as companies searching to fill these positions typically rely on an established relationship with a recruiter or recruiting firm. Note: You have the right to register with more than one search firm.
  • Build a partnership. When working with a recruiter, you are developing an important professional relationship. There has to be mutual respect between the candidate and the recruiter for this to be successful. If you are invited in for an interview and testing, you will be working with a recruiter, or a few recruiters, who are responsible for your file. Employers hire candidates who not only have the technical skills required to do the job, but candidates who they feel have a professional outlook that is compatible with the business culture. Same applies to recruiters. Follow up with them. They are your gatekeeper to your future boss. Be honest, state your employment conditions, salary expectations and what your goals are for your next role.
  • Be flexible to both permanent, part-time, contract and/or temporary assignments (refer to my case above). After you apply for jobs on the staffing agency’s site, follow up with the recruiter assigned to the job (usually at the bottom of the job posting) with a phone call to make sure he or she received your resume and application.


 To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email


On Wednesday, September 25th at 7 pm, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Reena are shining a spotlight on the passage of Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act (ACA), by hosting a Candidates’ Forum.  

This event will serve to educate participants about the importance of the act, its potential outcomes and provide an opportunity to hear directly from candidates on their parties’ ACA implementation strategies if elected to government.

The ACA passed unanimously by the House of Commons and received Royal Ascent on June 21, 2019. ACA legislation, once implemented, should ensure a barrier-free Canada in all areas of federal jurisdiction.


Please RSVP directly to

This 5-minute survey will inform the candidates of your opinions about A.C.A. – please consider completing it.

Reena Is In Compliance

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services inspected (August 26 – September 5th) Reena for service-agency compliance with legislation and policy directives.  

Compliance is intended to provide assurances that adults with developmental disabilities are receiving quality standards of care, in a safe and secure environment. 

Reena is In Compliance!

Read Compliance letter HERE

Employment Advice Column: A Difficult Interview Question: “What happened at your last job”?

Sept 2019

Dear Joanna

I was fired from my job as a maintenance helper. As a job seekers with Autism, it took me a long time to finally get this job! After one year of hard work and being a dedicated employee, my manager suddenly told me that they were restructuring and either I continue on as a casual part time employee or I would be let go. I decided to quit as I was shocked and upset as I thought I was doing a great job. I had no indication to the contrary. I started to apply for jobs and have an interview next week. How do I respond to the interview question that is always asked: “What happened at your last job”?

Signed: Suddenly Fired

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Suddenly,

I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you although it seems that the employer didn’t directly “fire you”. You were offered a “shift change” option which could be interpreted as being terminated. It’s a tricky situation. I appreciate you reaching out to me for advice for this very difficult interview question. I’ve consulted with the job coaches from the Reena Supported Employment Service and Summer Employment Transition supported employment programs for youth with developmental disabilities (including Intellectual and Autism), as well as some great advice from They suggest the following ways in which to handle this challenging question at the job interview.

1. Remove the job from resume. You can consider doing this if you were at this company for a brief time or if it was a short-term contract. If you decide to remove the position from the resume, you will want to speak to the gap in time with confidence and transparency. Give consideration to highlighting other notable activities that would support your personal and professional growth; are you volunteering? did you enrol in a course? Engage in a self-study? Attend conferences or relevant events like job fairs? Volunteer? Travel? Learn a new language? The key is to make the gap relevant, valuable and active in both cyberspace and during the interview. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate how you continue to learn and grow in your career.

2. Add the job to resume. If you do decide to acknowledge this one-year experience on your resume, then be prepared to speak to it in concrete terms. First and foremost, it is important that your reason for leaving matches what your previous employer will say – if you decide to use your former boss as a reference. If you keep the experience in your resume, see if you can ask a former co-worker to be your reference or another supervisor from your former company. This might require a quick phone call to the human resources who sometimes can help you craft your story. Depending on the human resources team, this could be an opportunity to ask them if they will support your leaving story, within reason.

3. Job change. Sometimes, as in your case, you’re hired for a full time position and then it ends up that you are switched to casual. Also, I’ve known many situations when employees end up with doing a job that is nothing like the job description they were hired for. Your shift change is an acceptable reason for why you left your last job. You could respond to the question if asked: “I was hired for a full time maintenance helper position. My performance reviews and feedback from my boss were nothing but positive. But after one year, my position turned into casual; and I need full time work. This is a very convincing and acceptable answer, even if you left the position very soon after being hired. It make sense right?

4. Handling the interview. Do your homework in order to avoid a potentially awkward interview. Keep the response specific, short and transparent. Some examples include: Change in management, restructuring of roles, changed career path, skills were not being fully utilized and I need full time employment. Prepare (and practice) a positive response that can be discussed with ease. Don’t end with the leaving story. Emphasize your key learning, accomplishments and contributions to the department and the role in the year of employment. Do not try to hide from talking about the experience.

5. Keep it positive! Never badmouth your last employer, especially if you have been fired. Beware of the language. This is a red flag for interviewers. Emphasize that the last job was an important learning opportunity for you and stress how much you like your work and career! Take responsibility, and don’t sound angry or bitter about this past experience. Don’t make it sound like money is the only thing you care about. You need to show the interviewer that you’re focused, ready to come in and help them if they hire you! Regardless of what happened in the past.

6. Keep your answers clear and direct especially if you were fired, laid off or quit. Don’t use vague words like “I was let go.” This will make the interviewer suspicious and open up a ton of possible follow up questions. Talk about your dedication to the job and that you take your career seriously. Show appreciation of your past jobs (even the last one!). Even though you might be leaving it for a better role elsewhere, it doesn’t mean you should hate on the role. In fact, you should point out the value of the job and the lessons you learnt in that role.

Wishing you lots of success in your next job interview and I’m sure you will be successful!

To submit your questions for this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email

Western York Region Ontario Health Team Telephone Town Hall

Join Reena for a special telephone town hall with members of the Western York Region Ontario Health Team.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 7 to 8 p.m.

We want to hear from you so that we create a local health care system that works for you!

Communities in Richmond Hill, Vaughan and King will automatically receive a phone call on their residential line.
To register a different or mobile number, please visit

What is an Ontario Health Team?
The Province of Ontario introduced Ontario Health Teams to improve the delivery of health care and social services in a way that reflects the local needs of communities.
The Western York Region Ontario Health Team includes acute care, home and community care, primary care, long-term and residential care, palliative and hospice care providers that serve Vaughan, Richmond Hill, King and nearby communities.

More details –

Reena Achieved Accreditation

Mazel Tov! Congratulations!

FOCUS Accreditation

Reena is delighted to announce it achieved its first accreditation award for the period of August 2019 – August 2023. This is a substantial endeavour and we are very proud of the hard work our staff, volunteers and Board put forward, reaching this achievement!

Reaching an accreditation status is an affirmation of the valuable work we do, supporting individuals with developmental disabilities, in their communities.

FOCUS Accreditation looks at all aspects of how an organization provides services: from how people are supported, to the effectiveness of the operations, across 195 standards. During July 2019 the accreditation team observed how services were provided, reviewed data, and collected input from various people who have a stake in the services being provided. 

Reena achieved an overall score of 98.9%.

Reena elected to be accredited by an impartial third-party organization, FOCUS Accreditation, to help us learn more about ourselves and to demonstrate our commitment to accountability and quality, as it relates to improving the lives of the people we support.

Reena would like to thank again its staff for the hard work and efforts they have put forward, in assisting us in reaching this momentous moment. We would also like to recognize the FOCUS accreditation review committee, as they clearly model the standards they measure.

We are pleased to join over 60 other agencies as an accredited agency.

FOCUS is an accreditation agency, developed in Canada, for Canada’s community of human services sector. 

Reena and Chai-Tikvah Join Hands – Again

Subscribing to the well known proverb, “two heads are better than one,” Reena – which provides housing and support services to community members with developmental disabilities, and Chai Tikvah – an organization that provides supportive housing and other counseling supports for adults living with mental illness – are putting their heads, and hearts, together for those they serve.

The merger between the two agencies, which is also something of a homecoming as Chai Tikvah was originally launched out of Reena in 1981, is designed to secure and grow the preeminent mental health services that Chai-Tikvah provides, while strengthening Reena’s capacity to support individuals they serve.

The synergy created by this move should know no bounds and countless benefits as both organizations share very similar beliefs as they both operate within a framework of Jewish culture and values.

The integration is scheduled to take place on October 1st 2019 when Ministry of Health funding will be moved to Reena.

“We are very excited by what lies ahead; excited for the many individuals in our community living with developmental disabilities and mental illness who will benefit from this merger,” says Bryan Keshen, President & CEO of Reena. “Working with Chai-Tikvah will allow Reena to further develop a continuum of care across health and social services. Reena serves many clients with mental health needs, and this integration will create a platform for Reena to expand these services over time.

“The synergy between the two agencies will allow Chai-Tikvah to utilize Reena’s expertise in supportive housing solutions, government relations and size of management to strengthen its agency and focus on service delivery,” says Rochelle Goldman-Brown, Executive Director, Chai Tikvah Foundation. “Both organizations believe that the shared vision will support the creation of an integrated approach to service, that will be well positioned for future success and increased supports for community. This coming together of two vital community organizations is truly a win-win for all.”

Employment Advice Column: Acing the Telephone Interview

Dear Joanna,

I never liked talking on the phone to friends or family. I prefer the face to face or through texting or apps. As a person on the spectrum and it’s so much easier to communicate this way!  However, I have applied for a job in an office,  and am scheduled for a pre-screening interview on the phone! I’m so nervous to chat with the interviewer. How do I handle this type of interview?

Signed: Chatter Fear

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Chatter,

The job coaches who help our youth with developmental disabilities in our supported employment programs (RSES and SET) agree that the telephone interviews can definitely be intimidating! It’s a quick way for employers to pre-screen and decide whether or not to move to the next steps in the hiring process – the face-to-face. I completely understand your concerns as one of the challenges of phone interviews is the lack of body language which can count for over 55 percent of the total message communicated (

During the phone interview, recruiters may review your resume (and it may be the first time!) and look for accuracy, gaps and clarification of your experience and skills. Also, they can check for professionalism, voice, language, tone, vocabulary and personality! This can be quite overwhelming. But if you prepare, the phone call can be a lot easier for you. Here are some tips from our leading job coaches on how to prepare for the telephone interview from recruiters as well as

  1. Research the company and review the job description
  2. Make sure to confirm a date and time for the phone interview with the employer. And double check that you have a working phone line.
  3. Find a quiet location without any noise or other distractions like music, the TV, crowds of people. Do not call in public areas like restaurants or cafes. Have a glass of water just in case your mouth goes dry but don’t eat or drink while talking on the phone. Shut off all your other phones other than the one that is used for the interview.
  4. Bring a pen, paper, laptop, a copy of your resume, the job description and any notes that you have taken in your research. Take notes during the interview that you can refer back to later on (especially if you are invited for the in person interview).
  5. Ask a friend or relative and/or your job coach to help you rehearse for the interview. They’ll give you feedback on how you across on the phone. You can record yourself so you can listen to see if you are speaking too quickly or too quietly in order to improve.
  6. Request accommodations in advance – before the telephone interview. Discuss this with the job coach from your employment program. If you would like the job coach to attend the interview, you may or may not need to advise the interviewer. But if you require an afternoon time slot for the interview or if you need a special phone with higher volume, discuss this with the interviewer in advance.
  7. Write out the responses to the most commonly asked phone interview questions (like a script): “Why do you want to work for us”, “What are your salary expectations”, “Tell me about your experiences, your education, and your skills that will help you with the job”, “What do you know about our company”, “What are your short term and long term goals”, “On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rank your skill level with (fill in the blank).
  8. Prepare questions to ask the employer. But remember – this is not the time for a discussion about the details of the job like salary, training and start dates. If you progress to the next stage, you will have a chance to understand the company better.
  9. Be professional. Answer the phone professionally – “Good morning, Joanna Samuels speaking” is an example. Address the interviewer as Miss, Mrs., or Mr. unless invited to use his or her first name. Be polite. Be enthusiastic. But don’t start chatting like you are talking to a friend. Listen carefully is important.
  10. The interviewer can hear it through the phone.



To submit your questions for this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email Joanna Samuels, Reena’s Employment Resource Supervisor at

Employment Advice Column: Beware of Job Scams

Dear Joanna,

I applied for a job posting listed on one of those general websites for the position of a customer service representative. I immediately received an email from the owner of the company with an employment contract attached for me to complete, sign and return by email. The form requested all of my personal details, including my social insurance number. I admit that I was excited to be offered a job! And it came after years of rejection and frustration with my hundreds of job applications especially as I am a job seeker who requires accommodations for my developmental disability. However, I am concerned about providing my personal details to a total stranger without an interview at least. What should I do?

Signed: Fraud Alert (FA)

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear FA,

I’m so glad you contacted me with this question. The question of how to determine if you are experiencing a job posting scam or a real job is important. Victoria Ghouchandra, coordinator of Reena’s Supported Employment Service and Summer Transition Employment programs for youth with developmental disabilities, has offered important warning signs and techniques below to determine if the employment opportunity is legitimate or not

1. Be very careful.

This is the first step when you are applying for jobs online, or even in person. There is no shortage of identity-theft, scams, rip-offs and illegitimate companies and job postings in the city and on the internet. It’s impossible to monitor so many people and places. I would always check out your concerns or the actual job posting with your mentor, job coach or a professional in this field before you apply, so you can prevent anything bad happening. Victoria warns never to NEVER EVER provide a social insurance number or your personal details (by email, telephone or social media – or any which way) until a job offer is given to you in writing, accepted and the company is verified. Plus companies will never send a job offer before an interview or phone conversation at the very minimal.

2. Research research research.

Is this company and owner real? Ask yourself these questions as you do your research to see if this organization is legitimate. Is there a website for the company advertising their position? Can you Google the company and owner? Is there an address and contact details? Is there any information on social media, especially LinkedIn? If not, then it might be a scam. I only apply for jobs with legitimate and comprehensive websites with full disclosure of their company name, location, telephone, emails, and a list of contact people. I would also Google the address to make sure it’s real. Look for any reports of negative news and reputations.

3. Analyze the job details.

Again, it’s important that the job description be transparent, clear and informative, with an idea of the compensation package. An actual salary amount might not be listed, but you should have an idea of the payment structure. For example, does the posting indicate a base and commission with the customer service role, or is it an hourly wage?

4. Asking for money and more. The website Scam Warmers presents the following red flags that confirm that the job and company are frauds. DO NOT PAY A PENNY TO ANY EMPLOYER before getting the job. Avoid jobs that ask you to use your personal bank account, to open a new bank account, to use your credit card, mail, cash a check or money.

5. Check the company’s references.

You have every right to ask the company or employer for references. Request a list of other employees or customers. Then, contact the references to ask about the company. If the company refuses to provide references, then stay away from this opportunity.

6. Beware of quick rich fixes.

Any job that promises getting rich fast or guarantees tons of money is one that you should stay away from. Nothing happens by magic or quickly, whether it’s a job offer or losing weight. This all takes time and is a process.

I really hope that I have saved you from this scammer. You deserve to work for a legitimate company with fair compensation and a healthy workplace.


To submit your questions for this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email Joanna Samuels, Reena’s Employment Resource Supervisor at

Reena Wins Accessibility Champion Award

National Access Awareness Week (NAAW) was first established in 1988 to better promote community access for people with disabilities. This initiative happened in response to a request from Rick Hansen following his “Man in Motion World Tour”.​  

As part of  NAAW, the Vaughan Accessibility Advisory Committee presented the Accessibility Champion Award in the “Community Group/Non-Profit category” to REENA, in recognition of the organization’s significant contribution to inclusion and accessibility in both building awareness and in practice in the City of Vaughan and community at large.

Reena’s supported employment services, including RSES and SET that supports youth as well as housing, recreation/social and community participation programs, volunteering, respite, training and advocacy, community participation, and advocacy to name a few, were recognized at the awards ceremony organized by the City of Vaughan and the committee.

(L-R) Joanna Samuels, Sandra Yeung Rocco, Vaughan City Councillor, Linda Jackson – Former Mayor and Current Vaughan Regional Councillor, Melissa Shlanger, Sandra Perlstein, Sandy Stemp, Maurizio Bevilacqua- Mayor, City of Vaughan

Sandy Stemp, Reena’s C.O.O., accepted the award on behalf of Reena and was joined by Melissa Shlanger and Sandra Perlstein, Reena Receptionists, and Joanna Samuels, Employment Resource Supervisor.

“I am here on behalf of Reena, so pleased to accept an Accessibility Champion Award as part of National Access Awareness Week. We work hard every day to raise awareness of the importance of inclusion and accessibility – through collaboration with our community partners, planning and action on housing, employment, and recreation” said Sandy Stemp.

Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua issued a statement following a ceremony at Vaughan City Hall to celebrate three winners of the inaugural Accessibility Champion Awards – “Tonight, we honoured three members of our community whose ongoing efforts exemplify what it means to be an accessibility champion. Through Vaughan’s Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC), we are working to ensure access for residents and visitors with disabilities.”

Awards recipients

Many thanks to Mayor Bevilacqua, Regional Councillor Linda Jackson and the Vaughan Accessibility Advisory Committee for their commitment to inclusion.

A Dementia Strategy for Canada


Reena applauds the inclusion of the intellectually disabled in the national Dementia Strategy

The Strategy

Earlier this week, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health announced the release of A Dementia Strategy for Canada: Together We Aspire. This first national Dementia Strategy focuses on preventing dementia, advancing therapies, and finding a cure, as well as improving the quality of life of people living with dementia and caregivers. Budget proposed for 2019 is $50 million to help advance the Strategy.


Reena Group of Charities would like to thank the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, (@CDNMinHealth) and Honourable Filomena Tassi (@MinofSeniors) Minister of Seniors and the Government of Canada for their contributions launching Canada’s first national Dementia Strategy.

We have been looking forward to a Canadian Dementia Strategy for some time and are so pleased that the time has come for Canada to develop a plan for this most important issue.  When we heard the announcement that this work was beginning, we became immediately engaged in the process to inform the strategy.

Reena and Dementia Research

For the last twenty years Reena has been an industry leader, creating the Ontario Partnership on Aging and Developmental Disabilities. This partnership promotes collaboration across sectors through education and sharing information – encouraging unique models of support and care.  A key area of this work has been on dementia and developmental disabilities.   

Recently, Reena has worked with experts, Dr. Nancy Jokinen, Associate Professor, UNBC and Leslie Udell from Winnipeg (Winnserve) to create the Canadian Consortium on Dementia and Developmental Disability.  One of the key actions of this group is to work with our U.S. partners, National Task Group on Dementia and Developmental Disabilities. They created a curriculum and our goal is to create a Canadian version, and deliver this across Canada. This year we piloted 3 sessions across Canada – Thornhill, Winnipeg and Victoria. 

As a result of these three sessions we now have a group of connected leaders, providing a growing network of support and learning.

Reena’s Contributions

Sandy Stemp from Reena and Dr. Nancy Jokinen took part in the National Dementia conference in 2018 and were able to help provide information to the participants and members of the Ministerial Advisory Board on Dementia on the unique issues and needs of those with dementia and developmental disabilities.  After the conference both were approached by the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences indicating they did not have knowledge on dementia and developmental disabilities. 

We provided a document with research citations and then Dr. Nancy Jokinen was commissioned to provide a report, Improving the Quality of Life and Care of Persons Living with Dementia and Their Caregivers, (see Appendix G of this report link – 

We believe that these actions and the advocacy of all those connected to the Canadian Consortium on Dementia and Developmental Disabilities provided the impetus to the inclusion of those with developmental disabilities in Canada’s National Dementia Strategy. 

Dementia – Background Information

More than 419,000 Canadians aged 65 years and older diagnosed with dementia in Canada. As population ages, more and more Canadians are affected, and two-thirds of those diagnosed are women. Dementia affects not only the person living with dementia, but also their families, caregivers, and communities.

The new strategy places emphasis on those groups who are at a higher risk of dementia as well as those who face barriers to equitable care. These groups include but are not limited to Indigenous peoples, individuals with intellectual disabilities, individuals with existing health issues such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes, older adults, women, ethnic and cultural minority communities, LGBTQ2 individuals, official language minority communities, rural and remote communities, and those with young onset dementia.

Want to learn more about how this new strategy will affect people with dementia?

Want to have access to Reena’s 20-year professional research and help your community?

Contact – Sandy Stemp, Reena’s C.O.O.

Employment Advice Column: When your job changes


I arrived to my retail customer service job this morning and learned that the store chain where I work has been bought out by another big company. My boss said I can continue to work at the store but would now have to add more tasks to my role including cashier. I mentioned this to my Reena job coach as this change is very upsetting and I’m scared to lose my job. What do I do?

Signed: Big Change

Dear Change,

The realities of the current labour market and workplace is that it’s tough, it’s competitive and it’s complex. Change is here to stay. And it’s FAST!

As a result, many employees are experiencing an upheaval in their jobs. I know some employees who have arrived to work in the morning with a completely different job description, for better or for worse, or their company could be bought out or decide to outsource your role. Or there could be a total change in management including your boss! This could have happened overnight by the board, the management or new owners.

Smith (2013) in 10 Things To Do When They Radically Change Your Job explains that if an employee is given less responsibilities, the employer might be trying to get rid of him or her. It could be time to look for a new job! However, it could also mean that they could be “testing you for bigger things”. Smith adds that companies are not static; they need to constantly be involved in new initiatives to bring in more customers. Perhaps your company is growing and they want their workers to grow with them, by giving them more responsibilities and sending them for professional development and training.

Whatever the case may be, the question is how to prepare yourself to meet these challenges in your current job and workplace. Smith suggests rather than complaining, maintain a positive attitude and talk to your supervisor to find out what’s going on.

She recommends the following five strategies to do when your job changes:

1. Talk to your supervisor and be as direct as possible. Find out how you can help to continue to add value to the company. Find out if the change is based on your performance or a change in the organization’s strategies. Always be cordial and professional.

2. Use the opportunity to learn and improve. Think about this change as a positive experience. If the change is performance-based, then this is a perfect time to improve on your deficiencies and learn more new skills. This is your chance to help the company grow, and build your resume, so to continue your efforts to remain marketable and competitive in your company and in the working world.

3. Ask your supervisor for rewards other than a new title or money. With additional responsibilities without promotion or raise, ask your supervisor for perks (for example: a lieu day, a day off paid, longer lunch hours or the ability to work from home once a week). Brooks advises to keep track of your additional working hours, and when the time is right, talk to your supervisor about fair compensation or perks.

4. Talk to your co-workers whom you trust. Brainstorm with your colleagues, to think through the experience and make plans for success. Continue to cultivate your team as your support group. You are all going through the same process, and you might find it helpful to speak to other people in your situation.

5. Get the necessary training. It is important that you learn the skills to help you succeed with your new responsibilities. Jacquelyn Smith cautions that if the employer doesn’t give you the training and the job role is changing, they could unfairly set you up to fail. If that training is not available from your organization, then get it on your own. Consult with your supervisor first. Find out if the classes or courses that you are interested in taking will help you with your job. Learning the new technical skills for the new position will only help the company and therefore your supervisor.

If the job change has any negative impacts on you (your mental, physical,or emotional health, because of the stress), then you might consider looking for another job. Just make sure not to burn your bridges on your way out.