People with episodic disabilities face significant employment and income support challenges. These issues have a significant impact on health:
- Income: People with low incomes are more likely to become ill. They’re also likely to suffer more adverse effects from illness than people with higher incomes.
- Insecurity about the future: The unpredictable nature of HIV and concerns about income security both contribute to the stress of people living with HIV. Stress adversely affects health.
- Social inclusion or exclusion: Long-term unemployment impacts self-esteem. Paid work, volunteer activities and social interactions are key to health, confidence and dignity.
Income security – a reliable, and predictable source of adequate income – is a concern for all people with disabilities. But for people with episodic disabilities, the challenge may be even greater. Recurring periods of ill health make it difficult to work, especially fulltime. Most people with HIV and other episodic disabilities must rely on health and disability benefits such as:
- Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits
- Long term disability (LTD) and extended health benefits (vision, dental, prescription drugs, physiotherapy, etc.) provided by employee group insurance plans
- Canadian Pension Plan Disability Program (CPP-D), and
- Provincial Disability and Social Assistance programs.
Rigid definitions and policies govern these benefit programs. As a result, people may have difficulty accessing or maintaining benefits. Existing policies also make it difficult for people who are receiving benefits to work part-time or when their health allows.
Work and Income Resources
Project Report; Realize 2021
The Pandemic Pandora’s Box report analyzes the combined findings of two informal, community-driven surveys shared openly online in February 2021. The first asked adults working or seeking work in Canada about their experiences with Long COVID, while the second asked Canadian employers about their comfort level and preparedness to provide workplace accommodations to COVID-19 long-haulers. Up to 1 in 3 people who contract COVID-19 – regardless of the severity of their acute infection – risk facing Long COVID. Long COVID refers to a multitude of fluctuating, debilitating symptoms that may affect all organ systems and for many cause impairments which last for months.
A Report on the 2022 Survey of Certified Human Resources Professionals Regarding Episodic Disabilities
This report, and its predecessors in 2020 and 2006, was developed as part of an ongoing
assessment of the existing knowledge of Human Resources (HR) professionals across Canada about Episodic Disability in the workplace; and the gaps in both training and experience that may be barriers to a culture of accommodation in their work environments. Human Resources professionals across sectors are uniquely positioned to both advocate for employees, and to engage leadership to provide appropriate support to their team members living with Episodic Disability. HR professionals play a pivotal role in ensuring that people living with episodic disabilities are recruited, retained, or are able to return to the workplace should they require time away.
The 2022 Episodic Disability Survey for Human Resources professionals (Appendix 1-2), was
designed to gather input on experiences of episodic disability in the workplace, as well as on
activities and tools, that support Human Resource Professionals. This information will assist in
building awareness and will help inform the creation of a National Action Plan on Episodic
Disability and Employment.