Comox Valley MLA Don McRae, centre, proclaims Disability Employment Month Friday at the Lewis Centre. At left is Ingrid Tanasichuk, executive director of Vancouver Island Vocational & Rehabilitation Services, and Bruce Brautigan of Creative Employment Access Society.
For the first time, the provincial government has declared September as Disability Employment Month. The idea is to celebrate people with disabilities in the workforce, along with the employers and communities that support them.
Comox Valley MLA Don McRae — the Social Development and Social Innovation Minister — is spending the month encouraging employers to make disability hiring a priority.
“We’re ready to hire persons with disabilities, but sometimes government has barriers, or maybe we have barriers,” McRae said Friday at a community resource fair at the Lewis Centre. “We can do better.”
He shared a comment made by Rick Hansen, the Man in Motion, who believes in a three-pronged approach whereby persons with disabilities, employers and government need to do better to break down the barriers.
“Because it is the right thing to do,” said McRae, who feels there are not enough persons with disabilities in the government workforce.
“I’m not talking about coconuts, I’m talking about real jobs for real people.”
He issued a challenge to every business person he can find to consider hiring persons with disabilities. He suggests those already doing so should brag a bit.
“There is going to be an advantage for all individuals, and maybe they’ll inspire the business person around the corner. Or maybe someone in another town, or another franchisee, or another new startup, or someone to start their own business. There are huge opportunities.”
McRae thanked local employment agencies and other attendees for knowing what he should have known 20 years ago.
“We have to do better. Everybody is trying to move in that direction. I say those things not lightly.”
B.C. aims to have the highest national labour participation rate for people with disabilities by 2024.