Getting started

Here are a few key concepts to get you started. Scroll down the page or select one of the following links to move directly to your topic of interest.

Disability: Recognize and realize the potential


Close to 20% of Canadians have a disability1. Studies show that more inclusive and diverse companies perform better. The Return on Disability Group reports that firms that do disability well, outperform their competitors.

Understand disability

Disability can be permanent, temporary or episodic, visible or invisible. It also includes age-related disabilities and mental illness.

Address unconscious bias

Train and coach employees and managers to identify biases and build processes to manage them. To assess unconscious negative bias toward disability that may affect workplace decision-making and interactions, visit Project Implicit.

Engage a significant consumer market

The purchasing power of the Canadian disability market is estimated to be $55.4 billion annually1.

Communicate your commitment

Consumers are more likely to want to shop or work for organizations that are reflective of Canada’s diverse population. Ensure that your customers are aware of your commitment to inclusion and accessibility.

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Disclosure: An essential element to inclusion


Close to 1 in 5 Canadians have a disability1, and many have an invisible disability. The Return on Disability Group reports that firms that do disability well, outperform their competitors.

Encourage disclosure

Make it safe for employees with disabilities. Create an open and disability-positive workplace culture.

Provide workplace supports

Providing workplace supports positively impacts employee engagement and retention, lowering turnover costs. Ask all employees what adjustments they need to be productive at work.

Language matters

Lose the labels! Use people-first language in how you communicate to all employees.

Create trust through communications

Listening with supportive intent facilitates trust and openness and will help guide the development of inclusive practices.

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Accessibility: Not just for wheelchairs

What it is

Accessibility and inclusivity are more then accessible entrances, ramps and elevators. Approximately 6,200,000 Canadians have a disability1, but only 8% of these Canadians use a wheelchair or scooter2.

Consider your digital presence

Canadians are among the biggest online users in the world3. A recent study identified that inaccessible websites were turning away the majority of people who self-identify as having a disability4. The resulting loss was estimated to represent 10% of total online spend4. Many people face challenges but don’t self-identify as having a disability. Who are you turning away with your inaccessible website?

Improve everyone’s experience

Designing with disability in mind often makes it easier for all. For example, ramps benefit baby-stroller pushing parents and cart-pulling delivery workers. Designing with disability in mind can also be a gateway to innovation. Captioning is a great example. Hire from the market to innovate and serve the market!

From recruitment to promotion

Think about accessibility in your recruitment, interviewing, hiring, onboarding and promotion processes and practices. Don’t forget your digital tools: job websites and candidate selection software may automatically screen out potential talented candidates with certain types of disabilities.

Many candidates with disabilities may not have gained work experience through summer and part-time employment. Be open to what they have accomplished at school, doing volunteer work and through internships.

The disability community

$55.4 billion is the annual estimated buying power of Canadians with disabilities and this number grows to $366.5 billion when you add in friends and family1. Can you afford to ignore this market?

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Myths and misconceptions: The biggest employment barriers

By far, the biggest barrier to people with disabilities obtaining employment are employer attitudes, beliefs, and misconceptions. Here are some of the common misconceptions with an intentional focus on the facts, an important step if we wish to move beyond our unfounded beliefs.

Myth 1: Only a few people with disabilities are in the labour market, so it’s not an issue for our organization.

Fact 1: People with disabilities in Canada represent a large untapped labour pool.

There are close to half a million people with disabilities ready and able to work but who are unable to find employment, and almost half of them have a post-secondary education5. If you are not accessing this talent pool, your competition is!

Myth 2: Hiring people with disabilities will increase safety incidents and cause my insurance premiums to increase.

Fact 2: Employees with disabilities have lower safety incident rates and don’t cause insurance premiums to increase.

Employees with disabilities have a 40% lower safety incident rate and 78% lower overall costs associated with accidents6. Tim Hortons franchisee Megleen Inc. has never made an insurance claim for a work-related injury to an employee with a disability despite employing more than 150 people with disabilities over 22 years7. Safety insurance premiums are based on your safety record, and the type and size of your business.

Myth 3: Employees with disabilities have higher turnover and absenteeism rates.

Fact 3: Studies show that people with disabilities have lower absenteeism and stay with employers longer than their non-disabled counterparts8.

Myth 4: People with disabilities have poorer job performance and require additional support.

Fact 4: 90% of people with disabilities rated average or better on job performance—a good indicator of their independence in the workplace8.

Myth 5: The cost of accommodating a person with disabilities is prohibitive.

Fact 5: “Most employers report no cost or low cost for accommodating employees with disabilities”

Almost 60% of employers say the accommodations needed by their employees cost nothing. Most of the other employers say the typical amount per employee is a one-time expenditure of $5009.

Myth 6: I cannot discipline or fire an employee with a disability.

Fact 6: There are no special processes or procedures for disciplining or firing employees with disabilities who are not meeting performance expectations.

Employees with disabilities should be hired based on their ability to do the job.

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Search for candidates

Employers often express challenges finding or attracting qualified job candidates with disabilities. There are four primary sources:

People with disabilities who advocate for themselves

Most people with disabilities apply for jobs without the assistance of a service organization. Indicate that you are an inclusive employer, make sure your website is accessible and welcoming and that your online candidate-screening systems are disability-friendly.

Universities and colleges

Connect with career and disability resource centres to express your interest in hiring students with disabilities.


If you use a recruiting firm, make them aware that you are looking for candidates with disabilities.

Service agencies and disability organizations

People with disabilities often rely on service agencies and disability organizations to connect them to employers with job opportunities. There are many regional, provincial and national organizations offering different service models of support and placement. Find and choose the ones that understand the true value of their candidates with disabilities and your business needs.

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  1. Donovan, R. (2016) Return on Disability: Translate Different Into Value, 2016 Annual Report: The Global Economics of Disability     
  2. Brault, M.W. (2012) Americans With Disabilities: 2010 
  3. Huffington Post. (2015) Canadians are the world’s biggest internet users 
  4. Williams, R., Brownlow, S. (2016) Click-Away Pound Report 2016  
  5. Statistics Canada. (2016) Canadian Survey on Disability 2012 
  6. Kaletta, J.P, Binks, D.J. and Richard Robinson, R. (June 2012) Creating an Inclusive Workplace: Integrating Employees with Disabilities into a Distribution Centre Environment 
  7. Wafer, M. (2014) Don’t Lower the Bar 
  8. Graffam, Shinkfield, Smith and Polzin. (2002) “Employer Benefits and Costs of Employing a Person with a Disability.” Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 17  
  9. Job Accommodation Network. (2014) Workplace accommodations: Low cost, high impact