David Baker’s Personal Submissions to the Canadians with Disabilities Act Review

  • February 14, 2017
  • David Baker

paper (link)Following disclosure of a study (link) that only 37% of persons with disabilities are employed, David Baker provided the below personal submission to the Canadians with Disabilities Act review. This was in response to a widely reported statement that the government’s proposed Act would focus primarily on employment (link to statement).

Personal Submissions:

The Minister will accomplish nothing by tampering with human rights protections for individuals with disabilities under the Canadian Human Rights Act. All she could do is weaken substantive provisions. Presumably it is not her intention to provide people with disabilities with enhanced procedural protection under the Act, since it would need to be explained why that should not be done to benefit all enumerated categories.

What is currently called “employment equity” at the federal level is nothing more than a data crunching exercise which lost its sole means of enhancing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities when the data generated became old news.

Justice Rosalie Abella proposed a form of employment equity that imposed obligations on employers to remove barriers systemically and set employment targets. This was implemented in the Ontario Employment Equity Act that was repealed by the Mike Harris Conservative government within weeks of assuming power.

The current AODA employment regulations (link) are useless window dressings. This is in part because they are unenforceable and in part because they are insubstantial. The regulations represent a poor excuse for failing to re-enact the former Ontario Employment Equity Act.

If the government cares about employment for those with more severe disabilities it will adopt a Canadian variation of the German model that prevails across Europe. I have previously authored a paper that was written for the Ontario Employment Equity Commissioner recommending Ontario establish such a system to operate in conjunction with the Abella/Ontario model that would have benefitted persons with less severe disabilities, who nonetheless require job accommodation. You can read the paper here (link). Interestingly, the Swedish government took the criticism I offered of its sheltered employment model very much to heart. It sent a delegation to meet with me and subsequently it moved towards the European model typified by the description I offer of Germany’s model.

The data from the study regarding the employment of Canadians with disabilities is a clear indictment of the repeated failures to address employment barriers for Canadians with disabilities which has gone on for generations.

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