The employment rate for people with developmental disabilities in Ontario is below 25% with an average income that sits below the poverty line.
Among people with disabilities, people with developmental disabilities are among the most marginalised and have the lowest rate of participation in the labour force as compared to other impairment groups.
Employment is an important milestone for all individuals, regardless of ability.
For Reena individuals like Sarah, an 18-year-old high school graduate, a first job means so much more than a paycheck.
It is an opportunity to be included, like any other citizen, in the workforce. To garner a sense of independence and self-confidence, to break stereotypes, and to improve community and employer attitudes.
For employers, there is a benefit when their businesses and organizations are more accessible to people of diverse disabilities.
Sarah was employed as a Farm Assistant at the Reena Community Farm in summer 2021 (a position she earned after undergoing a real-life competitive application and interview process) via Reena’s Channels, Pathways and Summer Employment Transitions (SET) Program.
With the dedicated support of her expert job coach, Sarah gained solid understanding and experience of the tasks and responsibilities associated with her role, equipping her with the right resources to thrive. Arriving early and staying late, Sarah became committed to her work, even working on the farm until October to help wrap up last farming season.
This year, Sarah hit the ground running. Upon completion of high school, she happily returned to her work on the Crestwood Mega Farm, which includes visits to other Reena community farms, alongside farm coordinator, Aki – only this year, Sarah is employed five-days-a-week (up from two) and without the supervision of a job coach.
“I enjoy my work at the farm. I like working with other people and learning new tasks and getting more responsibilities. I really like being appreciated by my job coach and Farm Coordinator. That means a lot to me. I have more confidence this year too, and feel comfortable to speak up more this time. I also like making money to buy things. It’s the first time I have ever had my own money and the first time I am taking the bus by myself! It makes me feel good.” – Sarah
Benefits to both Individuals and Employers
Hiring individuals with developmental disabilities provides the opportunity to see employment and company operation through a different lens. It encourages employers to realize the importance of a more positive work environment and how this contributes to more hard-working employees.
Removing employment barriers within the job market for people with developmental disabilities not only means recognizing each individual’s intrinsic right to be a part of inclusive, accessible workplaces and meaningful community participation, but it also leads to higher levels of economic productivity through diversification.
According to a report from the Conference Board of Canada, if half a million working-age individuals with developmental and physical disabilities were to participate in the labour market at rates comparable to those of other Canadians, their productivity would increase the country’s GDP by nearly $17 billion by 2030.
The Role that Reena Plays in Supported Employment Services
Through Channels, Pathways and Summer Employment Transitions (SET) Programs, as well as Supported Employment Services (RSES), Reena offers employment and vocational programs that assist youth and adults with developmental disabilities who are looking to transition from school and unemployment and join the workforce.
In addition, Reena helps employers with their diversity recruitment and initiatives at no cost.
Reena supported employment services are comprised of Supported Employment Programs, Employer Services, and Employment Advice for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.
The Reena Supported Employment Service, in partnership with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, helps youth with developmental disabilities find full-time and part-time employment. This service helps participants access job search assistance and life skills and pre-employment workshops; job coaching and training, employer events and job fairs while building life-changing confidence and professional work experience.
Reena‘s job coaches understand business. They source, pre-screen and present employers with the “best candidate for the job”. In addition to offering innovative job matching services, Reena job coaches partner with employers to assist them with training and building a diverse, inclusive and evolving workforce through innovative community initiatives. All of these employer services at Reena are offered at no cost.
Lastly, Reena’s RSES team of expert job coaches respond to concerns and issues from job seekers with developmental and intellectual disabilities and autism, as related to the job search, employment and careers in a monthly Employment Advice Column featured on the Reena website.
Employment is important for all people as it provides a sense of purpose and meaningful contribution to society – people with developmental disabilities are no exception, because they too deserve financial autonomy, to play a key role in society, and to enjoy a fulfilling quality of life.
Ways You Can Support!
I would like to learn more about participating in the Employment Services Programs
Fill out the form below to register your interest in the Employment Services Program!
I am an Employer looking for more information
If you are an employer interested in learning more about Reena’s Supported Employment Services, please contact Joanna Samuels, Employment Resource Specialist, at (905) 889-6484 x2112 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.