In 2011, the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR) undertook a research project to examine and address the complex barriers to employment experienced by people living with episodic disabilities. The “Evolving the Workplace” project was supported by Scotiabank.
Research suggests that substantial numbers of Canadians with episodic disabilities are willing and able to work. Yet despite a desire to work, their levels of participation in the labour market remain low. For many persons with episodic disabilities, going to work may result in loss of their critical disability income and extended health benefits, as well as encountering barriers within work and policy environments. Therefore, identifying and examining options to help persons with episodic disabilities enter or stay in the labour market is important not only for policy-makers and employers, but also for countless Canadians and families living with episodic disabilities.
Scope of Research
Using a cross-disability approach, with a specific focus on the episodic nature of many of these disabilities, this project sought to enhance information to promote access to employment for people with episodic disabilities. This project intended to increase awareness among:
- Managers and supervisors
- Vocational rehabilitation specialists
- Human resources practitioners
- Organizations that work with people with episodic disabilities
- People living with episodic disabilities
The project worked towards:
- Increasing awareness and understanding of the employment challenges facing people living with episodic disabilities;
- Identifying and examining options to help persons with episodic disabilities enter, and remain in the work force.
Project activities were informed by a Steering Committee composed of key stakeholders (including researchers, academics, organizations that represent people living with episodic disabilities, employers, CWGHR employees, people living with episodic disabilities and Scotiabank employees) to guide the development of the activities.
- Conducting a qualitative needs assessment over the Spring/Summer 2011, with employers researchers, academics, National Episodic Disability Network participants, and people living with episodic disabilities to determine:
- Knowledge of episodic disabilities and employment accommodation strategies
- Current employment activities
- Needed support for further capacity building in the area of episodic disabilities and employment
- The experiences and needs of people with episodic disabilities who have intermittent work capacity
- Conducting key informant interviews and focus groups with: employers, researchers, academics, EDN participants, and people living with episodic disabilities who have experience in the job market
- Developing an educational and communication strategy which will focus on content and process for working with employers on issues of episodic disabilities based on the findings of the needs assessment and interviews
- Developing knowledge-based electronic resources on episodic disabilities and employment
The ultimate goal of the resources developed through this project was to increase the capacity for people with episodic disabilities to engage/remain in the workforce.
At Scotiabank, a culture of inclusion, that welcomes persons with disabilities, is the heart of our global community of Scotiabankers. It is who we are and who we aspire to be.
Scotiabank is committed to partnering with community organizations, like CWGHR, to create awareness and research solutions to address the challenges facing members of the community who live with an Episodic Disability.
Through their efforts, and with Scotiabank’s support, CWGHR is reaching out to multiple partners to help break down barriers and contribute to a culture of inclusion at the community level.
Director, HR Policy & Compliance and Diversity & Inclusion
- Evolving the Workplace Identifying Opportunities to Support People with Episodic Disabilities in Employment Summary Report, 2011
- Evolving the Workplace Identifying Opportunities to Support People with Episodic Disabilities in Employment (Executive Summary) 2011
- Evolving the Workplace: Identifying Opportunities to Support People with Episodic Disabilities in Employment Full Report, 2011