Below is a list of CRWDP research reports and their corresponding links to download the full reports. To open the CRWDP Activity Reports page, click here

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CRWDP Student Research


1. Addressing Knowledge Gaps about Skills of Persons with Disabilities: A Literature Review and Key Informant Interviews

Authors: Dr. Emile Tompa, Sabrina Imam, Joann Varickanickal, Dr. Amir Mofidi, Dr. Rebecca Gewurtz, Emma Irvin, Basil Southey

Summary: There is currently little to no information on the foundational and transferable skill levels of persons with disabilities (PWDs). Building on existing research contained in demographic profiles developed by the Skills for Success program, we undertake a literature review and key informant interview to identify and fill knowledge gaps, as well as help inform the development of recommendations for how remaining gaps could be filled (e.g., with a targeted survey conducted by a polling firm). We provide insights on important sensitivities for developing questionnaires for PWDs and make suggestions on how the given research analytical pieces in the literature review can be prioritized in order of magnitude (how large the gaps are) to inform the Skills for Success policy and program development. All types of disabilities are addressed, however, we give particular focus to persons who identify as having a learning disability or mental health condition. We also consider issues of intersectionality (e.g., LGBTQ+ and gender identity, racialized status, immigrant status, indigeneity) as multiple facets of identity can bear on social location, social barriers, and opportunities to participate in work and other social roles.

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2. Engaging Workers with Disabilities in the Financial Sector: A Resource for Organizational Leadership and Management 

Authors:  Dr. Alexis Buettgen, Andrea Gardiola, Dr. Emile Tompa


At least one in five Canadians (or 6.2 million people) aged 15 years and over have a disability, and as our population ages, this number is expected to rise (Morris, Fawcett, Brisebois, & Hughes, 2018).

Persons with disabilities “include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”[1]

Persons with disabilities are a sizable portion of our population who are capable of contributing to our labour market but often unable to do so. In Canada, there are at least 650,000 persons with disabilities who are able and willing to work but are denied opportunities because of inaccessible workplaces, discriminatory hiring practices and a lack of awareness about how to engage persons with disabilities in the world of work (Morris et al., 2018). These persons represent untapped potential for growth and innovation. This is particularly important to consider as we have impending labour shortages and a pool of talented individuals who are ready, willing and able to work.

There are substantial employment opportunities in the Canadian financial sector for underrepresented and equity-seeking groups like persons with disabilities, given that it is a growing sector. The Canadian financial sector consists of organizations such as banks, trust and loan companies, insurance companies, cooperative credit associations, fraternal benefit societies, and private pension plans (Government of Canada, n.d.). This sector contributes significantly to the Canadian economy. For example, banks contribute approximately 3.8% - over $66 billion - to Canada’s GDP (Canadian Bankers Association, 2022).

According to a report by the Conference Board of Canada (2021), GDP growth in finance and insurance has outpaced growth averages in all industries from 2011 to 2020, with Toronto being a worldwide leader in finance. The report found that finance and insurance was the third-largest contributor to Canada’s overall GDP after real estate and rental, leasing, and manufacturing.

Not only is the financial sector a major driving force behind Canada’s economy, but it also demonstrates high employment rates (Advisor's Edge, 2021). The unemployment rate in the finance and insurance industry is 1%, which is the lowest in any industry in Canada (Saminather, 2022). The financial sector also displayed great resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Canadian workforce of the future survey found that workers have been able to sustain their jobs and responsibilities during the pandemic and are also more likely than workers in other industries to report increased productivity (PwC Canada, n.d.). Overall, organizations in the Canadian financial sector have demonstrated impressive leadership in employment and contributors to the economy. Many are working on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and showcasing their commitment and drive to cater to diverse customers and workers alike. Opportunities range from accessibility services for customers and in the workplace to DEI programs that aim to recruit workers with disabilities.

The Governor of the Bank of Canada, Tiff Macklem, recently argued that a more diverse and inclusive workforce fosters innovation and creates a competitive and stronger economy. It was recently estimated that moving to a fully accessible and inclusive society – including the labour market/work and employment- would create a value of $337.7bn for Canadian society (Tompa, Mofidi, Jetha, Lahey, & Buettgen, 2021). [2] This is a sizeable proportion of GDP and is likely a conservative estimate of the potential benefits.

The financial sector is on track to building a more diverse workforce, and many organizations recognize that progress is being made, but there is still room for improvement. The Valuable 500 states that disability is “still not firmly embedded in the diversity and inclusion agenda.” A 2021 study sponsored by BDC Capital, CIBC Innovation Banking, and The 51, found that workers with disabilities represent about 9.6% of all workers in the financial industry (Diversio, 2021). However, the sector is falling short in identifying strategies that employers can use to engage workers with disabilities to reach their fullest potential. Negative discrimination and prejudice toward workers with disabilities is prevalent in many workplaces. A study by Global Disability Inclusion and Mercer Consulting (2021) has found that workers with disabilities are less engaged than workers without disabilities. To address this under engagement, employers must be equipped with the proper strategies and knowledge.

[1] In Canada, disability is defined in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

[2] This estimate accounted for increased income among persons with disabilities, reduced health care expenses, and social assistance costs and more inclusive policies and processes that made life more accessible and efficient.

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1. Insights on Employment and Income Support for Persons with Disabilities. Summary Report from the Ontario Cluster of the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy

Authors: Tammy Bernasky, Marcia Rioux, Rebecca Gewurtz

Summary: Working-age Ontarians with disabilities who seek employment or income support face a complex policy system involving complicated program eligibility criteria, onerous reporting procedures, and challenges to meeting basic needs while accessing social assistance programs. They also face systemic barriers to accessing employment, which often stems from employer reluctance to hire people with disabilities. The Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP) Ontario cluster was formed in 2014 to consider ways the disability policy system can better meet the needs of working-age individuals with disabilities who turn to it for support.

This report is designed to offer information to anyone interested in learning more about the policy structure in Ontario that affects access to income supports for people with disabilities, or for anyone wishing to learn more about how to help employers become more confident in hiring people with disabilities. Finally, it provides useful information learned by the Ontario Cluster that might inform initiatives across Canada. It is certainly in all of our interests to improve the current support systems so many of us rely upon.

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2. Development of web resources to promote the use of mobile technologies in vocational training for adolescents with learning disabilities: Ontario team / Développement de ressources Web pour favoriser l’utilisation de technologies mobiles lors de l’insertion professionnelle d’adolescents avec troubles d’apprentissage : équipe Ontario

Authors: Marie Laberge, Aurélie Tondoux, Sandra Moll, Arif Jetha, Lauren Chender, Lauren Heinken, Curtis Breslin

Summary (abbreviated): For several years, the Principal Investigator's team has been conducting research projects on the use of digital technologies to support the integration of students with learning disabilities into the labour market. In 2016-2017, the team conducted an action research project with students and teachers who supervise work placements in the Work-Oriented Training Path (Parcours de formation axée sur l’emploi, PFAE), in collaboration with the Pointe-de-l'Île school board (la commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île, CSPI). The PFAE is a work-study program offered in schools in all Quebec regions to students aged 15 and over who are experiencing difficulties at school. The objective of this action-research project was to propose an approach for using mobile technologies to support the skills development and professional integration of students during traineeships, taking into account the specific context of learning in a real work environment. 

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3. Développement de ressources Web pour favoriser l’utilisation de technologies mobiles lors de l’insertion professionnelle d’adolescents avec troubles d’apprentissage : équipe Québec / Development of web resources to promote the use of mobile technologies in vocational training for adolescents with learning disabilities: Quebec team

Auteurs : Marie Laberge, Aurélie Tondoux, Sandra Moll, Arif Jetha, Lauren Chender, Lauren Heinken, Curtis Breslin

Sommaire (la version abrégée) : Depuis plusieurs années, l’équipe de la chercheuse principale conduit des projets de recherche portant sur l’utilisation des technologies numériques pour soutenir l’insertion sur le marché du travail des élèves ayant des difficultés d’apprentissage. En 2016-2017, l’équipe a réalisé une recherche-action auprès d’élèves et d’enseignants superviseurs de stage du Parcours de formation axée sur l’emploi (PFAE), en collaboration avec la commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île (CSPI). Le PFAE est un programme d’alternance travail-études, offert dans des écoles de toutes les régions du Québec aux élèves âgés de 15 ans et plus, qui éprouvent des difficultés scolaires. L’objectif de cette recherche-action était de proposer une démarche d’utilisation des technologies mobiles pour soutenir le développement des compétences et l’insertion professionnelle des élèves en stage, en tenant compte du contexte particulier de l’apprentissage dans un vrai milieu de travail.

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4. Scoping review of programs and practices for the prevention and management of post-traumatic stress injuries and other mental health conditions in paramedic service organizations

Authors: Emile Tompa, Sabrina Imam, Kathy Padkapayeva, Maggie Tiong, Amin Yazdani, Emma Irvin

Summary: Paramedic services organizations provide critical emergency medical services and are important front-line first responders in Canada. There are over 30,000 paramedics in Canada who provide emergency medical services (EMS) and secure public safety during times of crisis (Public Safety Canada, 2019). Given the nature of their work, paramedics are frequently exposed to traumatic situations and, as a result, are substantially more likely to experience post-traumatic stress than the average worker. In fact, the alarmingly high rates of post traumatic stress injury (PTSI) among paramedics may not be a surprise when workplace exposures are considered. Consequently, effectively managing post traumatic stress and the mental health needs of paramedics requires that paramedic service organizations develop policies, programs, services and practices that have been designed with the specific consideration of best practices in the area of prevention and management of post-traumatic stress and other mental health conditions. The specific objective of this scoping review is to identify and synthesize peer-reviewed evidence on programs and practices for the prevention and management of post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues that are relevant for paramedic organizations. The findings from this scoping review, in conjunction with the environmental scan and needs assessment will serve as critical inputs into the development of a Work Disability Management System Standards for Paramedic Organizations with a focus on PTSI.

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5. A review of policy changes to promote work participation in older workers

Authors: Ivan Steenstra, Emma Irvin, Kim Cullen, Dwayne Van Eerd

Summary: The objective of this paper was to summarize the available evidence from the scientific literature on the effects of policy changes aimed at improving employment participation in older workers. From our scoping review of the literature, we conclude that many of the policies that are considered “sticks” (negative consequences) have small to marginal effects on labour force participation of older workers, while suffering from major side effects such as an increase in unemployment in younger workers and an increase in sick leave by older workers. Policies that are considered “carrots” (positive, reward oriented), like workplace accommodations, seem to be more successful and less prone to serious side effects for the older workers. However, the “stick approaches” (e.g., changing the age of retirement) tend to be applicable to every worker; whereas accommodation might easier or only be possible in a certain segment of workers, for instance those that are not engaged in strenuous, physical jobs. It seems that there is a place for “stick” approaches, but side effects could be mitigated by providing additional support, for instance by providing counselling for possible mental health consequences in older job seekers.

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1.  Financial incentives to promote employment of people with disabilities: When and how do they work best? [Year 2 Funding Report] 

Authors: Rebecca Gewurtz, Emile Tompa, Margaret Oldfield, Pam Lahey, Emma Irvin, Dan Samosh, Kathy Padkapayeva, Heather Johnston 

Summary (abbreviated): 

Financial incentives are widely used in Canada and elsewhere as a way to address low employment among people with disabilities. They can take different forms, including wage subsidies, human resource supports, job coaching and job carving, retention supports, wrap-around supports, and covering the costs of accommodation. However, stakeholders often have opposing perspectives on the merits of financial incentives for improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities, particularly in the case of wage subsidies. Many have questioned the sustainability of wage-subsidized employment and believe that financial incentives may undermine the contributions that people with disabilities make in the labour market (Fraser et al., 2011). Conversely, others feel that wage subsidies, used under the right conditions, can help leverage employment opportunities for people with disabilities. This perspective views wage subsidies in the same light as other financial incentives provided to employers in an effort to help support the recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and retention of people with disabilities. This study contributes to our understanding of financial incentives by expanding our definition beyond wage-subsidies to other critical services offered by service providers, and by highlighting the diverse ways in which financial incentives are being used in Ontario.

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2. Environmental Scan of the Impacts, Including Social Benefits, of Accessibility and Social Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities

Research Team: Dr. Emile Tompa (Lead); Co-Investigators: Dr. Amirabbas Mofidi, Dr. Arif Jetha, Dr. Pam Lahey, Dr. Alexis Buettgen​

Abstract: Understanding the magnitude of the economic benefits, including both social and market/financial dimensions, of an accessible and inclusive society is vital for policymakers attempting to set priorities and implement effective measures in this policy arena. Insights into these benefits can raise awareness of the magnitude of the cost of excluding persons with disabilities from full participation in society and identifying priorities and opportunities for more efficient allocation of resources. Estimating the economic benefits of accessibility and inclusion (or conversely the cost of exclusion) is an essential component of economic evaluation and impact analysis in this area. The total economic benefits and the per case benefits identified in this study are ideal for this purpose.
This study measures the gap between the current situation in Canada in terms of accessibility and inclusivity, and a counterfactual world that would include an implemented Accessible Canada Act (ACA) and, more broadly, an accessible and inclusive Canada. A society that is fully accessible and inclusive is the ideal. In practice, it is likely a continuous process of improvement.
The key question addressed by this study is:
What would be the benefits to Canadian society, in reference year 2017, if Canada was accessible and inclusive in all domains relevant to full participation?

Access the full report (PDF); access the abbreviated report (PDF)

3. Work disability programs in Newfoundland & Labrador and New Brunswick: Mapping eligibility criteria and identifying barriers for the employment of selected disability populations

Research Team
Nominated Principal Investigator: Stephen Bornstein​; Co-Principal Investigator: Kathy Hawkins; Co-Investigators: Barbara Neis, Rose Ricciardelli, Emily Christy, Susan Tobin; Researcher:
Aleksandra Stefanovic-Chafe
Abstract: This study explores and compares provincial work disability policies and maps relevant provincial programs in order to identify red flags for employment for people with disabilities. Specifically, work disability supports for people, and especially youth, who identify as having mental health issues and/or being diagnosed with autism, their experience in accessing support programs, and the challenges in successfully participating in the local labour market is examined in this research.
With a focus on two province, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick, the methodology of this study included: a scan of relevant peer-reviewed and gray literature on work disability policies at both the federal and provincial levels; interviews with selected government officials, community service providers, and other relevant stakeholders; as well as focus groups with people with lived experience. The main findings and the discussion are presented in this report.

4. Mapping the Canadian Work Disability Policy System (Alberta and B.C.)

by Sally A. Kimpson, John Calvert, and Mieke Koehoorn.

Abstract: This study sought to better understand the delivery of work disability benefits in Alberta and British Columbia by documenting and mapping the provision of benefits, and the experiences of individuals with work disability across different providers in both provinces.  The research was multi-phased, including:  a) an online document review of access procedures, eligibility criteria and type of benefits/coverage for four kinds of work disability benefit providers in each province (workers’ compensation, driver/vehicle insurance, providers of employer LTD benefits, and provincially-administered disability assistance programs);  b) in-depth qualitative interviews with work disabled recipients of each benefit programs;  c) development of tables comparing similar systems in each province; and, d) refinement of the tables based on interviews with (two) benefit program administrators. 

Interviews with work disabled participants reveal that individuals who become work disabled have significant challenges accessing and navigating complex disability benefit programs, often without assistance and necessary information, and that this experience is more complicated and difficult than documented procedures suggest.  The themes revealed in the narrative analysis include: “Informational Troubles,” “Navigating Bureaucratic Mazes,” and “Doctors as Gatekeepers.”  In addition, we found little if any correspondence between different programs that comprise British Columbia and Alberta work disability income support systems.


1. Analyse des mesures en soutien à la transition et à l'intégration au travail des personnes ayant des incapacités au Québec et au Manitoba

Organisme subventionnaire: Centre de recherche sur les politiques en matière d’invalidité professionnelle (CRPIP); Centre Interdisciplinaire de recherche en réadaptation et intégration sociale(CIRRIS)

Équipe de recherche: Normand Boucher (Université Laval, CIRRIS), Marie Gagnon (Université Laval, CIRRIS), Timothy Earle (Université Laval, CIRRIS), Charlie Dilk (Université de St-Boniface), Maria Fernanda Arentsen (Université de St-Boniface), Marie Laberge (Université de Montréal, Centre de recherche du CHU Ste-Justine, Centre de réadaptation Marie Enfant), Lena Diamé Ndiaye (Université de St-Boniface)

Cette étude exploratoire explique, dans un premier temps, le filet de sécurité sociale du Canada ainsi que ceux des deux provinces à l’étude, soit le Québec et le Manitoba. // This exploratory study first explains Canada's social safety net, as well as those of the two provinces under study: Quebec and Manitoba.

2. A policy analysis of occupational stress injuries in two Atlantic Provinces

by Rose Ricciardelli, Alan Hall, Daniella Simas-Medeiros and Kathleen Sitter

Study objectives: In Canada, little attention has been paid to current compensation and organizational occupational stress injury and disability policies in the Atlantic region. Instead, most policy analyses have concentrated on central or Western Canadian provinces. Focusing on three occupational groups – the police, correctional officers and child protection workers, we critically examine their current compensation and organizational policies in two Canadian Atlantic provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) and Nova Scotia (NS). The three occupational groups were selected because (1) they are composed of government employees who are engaged in security or protective safety work and (2) in response to the growing evidence of significant stress injury problems among these government public safety workers and the relative prominence in media and public discussions about the need for legislative and policy reform specific to mental health.

3. Work integration needs analysis of the school‐to-work transition for young adults with disabilities in Ontario

by Arif Jetha (PI), Julie Bowring, Adele Furrie, Frank Smith, and Curtis Breslin. With partner National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)

Access final summary report (Word version)

4. Financial incentives to promote employment of people with disabilities: When and how do they work best? [Phase 1 Final Report]

Authors: Emma Irvin, Emile Tompa, Heather Johnston, Kathy Padkapayeva, Quenby Mahood, Maureen Haan, Rebecca Gewurtz, Dan Samosh

Summary (abbreviated): 

Financial incentives are widely used to support employers to hire and retain workers with varying health conditions and disabilities. Financial incentives are exhibited in a variety of ways, such as wage subsidies, tax credits or tax benefits, and reimbursement of costs associated with accommodation. Both nationally and internationally, stakeholders (including employers, disability advocates, people with disabilities, and service providers) have contrasting perspectives on the merits of financial incentives for the recruitment and retention of workers with disabilities. The larger issue may not be directly whether wage subsidies work, but under what conditions and contextual factors do they facilitate employment and retention for people with disabilities. Therefore, a greater understanding of the impact of financial incentives for workers with disabilities, when and how they are currently used is needed to prior to the development of guidelines for their use. This report provides the current state of peer-reviewed literature surrounding financial incentives directed to employers to hire and retain people with disabilities.

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5. Helping make ends meet? Understanding the impacts of BC’s annualized earnings exemption on people living with mental illness

by Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division

The objectives of the study: 1. To understand the impact of the AEE and paid employment on the direct experiences of people in receipt of PWD benefits who choose to work; 2. To understand the rationale for and policy-making process used to implement the AEE; and 3. To propose recommendations to better support the employment of people experiencing mental illness.

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1. Feasibility Study and Needs Assessment for a Canadian Searchable Online Resource for Workplace Accommodation for Persons with Disabilities

Authors: Emile Tompa, Alexis Buettgen, Kathy Padkapayeva, Amin Yazdani, Joëlle Dufour, Quenby Mahood

Summary (abbreviated): This study of the need and feasibility of creating a Canadian online resource for workplace accommodation includes six distinct components, each with its own methodology, goals, and findings. Conducting these six sub-studies within the larger study has allowed us to summarize best evidence in peer-reviewed and grey literatures, highlight the voices of the various stakeholders who could benefit from the proposed online resource, examine how stakeholders’ needs and perspectives intersect, and synthesize the findings to produce a holistic view of the subject. The findings of this study suggest that there is value in developing an online searchable resource for workplace accommodations specific to the Canadian labour market.The web resource could serve as an initial point of contact for employers and other stakeholders to provide quick and easy access to information and services for accommodation and/or direct them to where they can find needed information and services.

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2. Dismantling the Welfare Wall for Persons with Disabilities

Author: Sherri Torjman

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3. Seed Grant Project Report : The Human Rights of Injured Workers: Social Protection Floors and the Canadian Work Disability System

Author: Jeffrey Hilgert

Summary: This seed grant project funded a Social Protection Floors student fellowship at the School of Industrial Relations at the University of Montreal. The objective of this project was to support a graduate student research project to explore the human rights dimension of social protection for injured workers within the Canadian context while working in partnership with injured worker groups in Canada to further advance their human rights agenda. The result of this seed grant project is a case study that examines recent changes to the benefit determination policy of the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board under international labour and human rights standards. The primary conclusion drawn from this study is that the injured worker benefit policy changes made by the Ontario WSIB in 2015 appear to raise human rights concerns, but documenting these changes is not yet possible due to the lengthy appeals process faced by injured worker claimants.

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1. L’utilisation des TIC pour soutenir l’accès à l’emploi des adolescents handicapés ou en difficultés d’apprentissage ou d’adaptation (HDAA) [The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to support access to employment for adolescents with special needs] 

Authors: Marie Laberge, Curtis Breslin, Gabriel Charland

Sommaire: La subvention de démarrage du CRPIP a permis de réaliser une revue de littérature qui a mis en évidence l’intérêt de recourir aux technologies de l’information et des communications (TIC) pour favoriser l’insertion professionnelle des jeunes adultes en situation de handicap. Elle a également servi à rédiger trois demandes de subvention dont deux se sont avérées positives. Enfin, elle a aussi permis de bâtir un réseau de collaborateurs et de partenaires intéressés par la mise en œuvre d’une nouvelle programmation de recherche favorisant l’insertion professionnelle par le recours aux TIC. Cette programmation vise autant à soutenir les utilisateurs bénéficiaires que les utilisateurs intermédiaires qui sont impliqués dans la programmation ou le choix des aides technologiques en fonction des besoins.

Summary: The seed grant from CRWDP was used to carry out a literature review which highlighted the importance of using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to promote the professional integration of young adults with special needs. This seed grant was also used to prepare three grant applications, two of which were funded. Lastly, it helped to build a network of collaborators and partners interested in the implementation of a new research program promoting professional integration through the use of ICT. This program aims to support end-users as well as intermediate users who help to choose and adjust technological aids according to specific needs of the end-users.

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2. Injured Workers Who Experience Challenges Returning to Work: Pathways and Consequences

Authors: Rebecca Gewurtz, Stephanie Premji, Linn Holness

Lay summary (abbreviated): The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of injured workers in Ontario who do not return to work successfully following a work-related injury. The findings that emerged from the analysis capture the journeys of injured workers who experience challenging RTW trajectories and describe the implications for injured workers across all areas of their lives, including: (1) Interactions with workers’ compensation and other benefit systems; (2) Financial strain and family relationship; (3) Subsequent health concerns and pressure to return to work, and; (4) Stigma associated with being an injured worker.

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3. Episodic Disabilities in Canada

Authors: Adele Furrie, Rebecca Gewurtz, Wendy Porch, Cameron Crawford, Maureen Haan, John Stapleton

Abstract: Background: Many people who have certain types of health conditions (e.g. multiple sclerosis, bi-polar disorder, HIV or arthritis) have unpredictable episodes of illness followed by periods of wellness. The episodes of illness often result in intermittent work capacity (IWC). Our research is one step in the gathering of information to gain a better understanding of the employment issues faced by this segment of Canada’s population with disabilities. Methods: We conducted a literature review and developed a statistical profile of people with episodic disabilities derived from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability. Results: Many people with episodic disabilities have sought, obtained and retained employment. Many have found employers who have worked with them to accommodate their fluctuating work disability. However, there are many who are still struggling. Conclusions: The findings of this report advance the emerging literature on episodic disability and employment. It highlights the need to better understand the employment trajectories of persons with episodic disabilities, as well as their interactions with various income support programs over time. There is also a need to explore successful cases of retention in order to understand the strategies that these employers had implemented.

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4. Disability Supports and Employment Policy

Authors: Sherri Torjman and Anne Makhoul (Caledon Institute of Social Policy)

Abstract (abbreviated): This study explores access to disability supports and links to paid employment. Two components of disability supports are included: technical aids and equipment, and personal services such as attendant care and home care. The many problems identified through interviews with key informants and highlighted in the relevant literature can be grouped into three categories related to the availability, affordability and responsiveness of disability supports. Each of these areas is discussed in the report. Key policy strategies that will improve access to disability supports and enable participation in the paid labour market are highlighted. Canada needs to pay special attention to investment in and provision of disability supports.  The need is great and will only grow in future with an aging population and rising incidence of chronic disease.

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5. Making the Law Keep Down the Costs. Why Canada’s public systems designed to support unemployed workers with a disability are making the decisions that they are.

Author: Andrew King, LLM

Abstract: This paper documents changes made to workers compensation, CPP, EI, and welfare since 1990 by Federal and provincial government in the pursuit of cutting costs.  The objective of these changes has been to reduce the entitlement and amount of benefits and bureaucratize adjudication, particularly for those with intermittent, recurring and extended periods of disability.  The results contribute to the increasing number of workers with a disability who end up on welfare.  This report argues that there are different policy strategies that are more fair and effective in supporting unemployed workers with a disability.

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6. Life and Work at the Margins: (Un)employment, Poverty and Activism in Canada’s Disability Community Since 1966

Author: Dustin Galer

Abstract: The report surveys the extent of poverty in the disability community over time, including ways in which experiences of poverty stimulated active resistance through anti-poverty and disability rights groups. It considers the impact these groups had on work disability policy as well as the dialectic of disability in policy circles and the broader public sphere.

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7. Willing but Unable: A population in waiting

Authors: Adele D. Furrie, Dr. Donna S. Lero, April D'Aubin, Grace Ewles

Abstract: Background: As the number of skilled workers decrease as Canada’s population ages, individuals with disabilities comprise a talent pool that is sometimes overlooked. The objective of this report is to provide a profile of these potential workers and an overview of the employment environment and challenges faced by these individuals. Method: The profile uses data from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability augmented by insights from Canadians with disabilities who shared their experience and knowledge of Canada’s existing employment environment. Findings: The population of potential workers with disabilities is diverse in age, abilities, and the extent to which they require workplace accommodations. There is a need for training and skills development programs that recognize that diversity. As well, policies should be developed to address disincentives to work (e.g. loss of benefits, attitudinal barriers).

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8. Disability Support Services in Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada: Impacts on Labour Market Participation for Individuals with Disabilities

Prepared by the SafetyNet Centre for Occupational Health and Safety in partnership with The Coalition of Persons with Disabilities-Newfoundland and Labrador (COD-NL)

Abstract: The goal of the project is to explore potential barriers to labour market participation related to disability support services in our province. The research engaged policy makers and individuals with disabilities in order to consider different perspectives and experiences with both designing/allocating and utilizing disability support services. This report presents our findings on the impact of different disability support services on the labour market participation of individuals with disabilities in Newfoundland and Labrador, with a focus on disability-related supports attached to income support programs. The report also examines some broader issues that pertain to the overall set of disability support programs including eligibility, portability, financing, and delivery, as well as how improved coordination, efficiency, flexibility, and accountability could improve employment outcomes in the local labour market for people with disabilities.

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9. Work Disability Policy Scoping Review Database

Authors: Ellen MacEachen, Bronson Du, Emma Bartel, Emile Tompa, Jackie Stapleton, Agnieszka Kosny, Ivana Petricone, and Kerstin Ekberg

Abstract: There is an abundance of research published over the past 15 years on work disability programs and policies. The CRWDP scoping review team conducted a systematic literature search across 4 different scientific databases (Medline, Embase, Web of Science, Pubmed) that resulted in over 9000 articles.  By reviewing the title and abstract of each article, we identified over 700 articles that focused on government-led or mandated programs related to work integration, including helping people with disabilities to enter the labor market, return to work, stay at work or receive income support. 

Click here to access the database.


1. Policies and Practices on the Accommodation of Persons with Invisible Disabilities in Workplaces: A Review of Canadian and International Literature

Author: Michael Prince

Abstract: Invisible disabilities refer to a range of mental and physical disabilities that, like visible impairments, vary in their origins, degree of severity and in whether they are episodic or permanent. Much of the mainstream literature on employment and disability does not consider the question of a person disclosing their hidden disability to an employer. While disclosure is the route to a workplace accommodation process and can be in the best interest of the employee with a disability, it is a highly risky decision to disclose with numerous potential disadvantages along with advantages. The resulting situation is the predicament of disclosure for employees with invisible disabilities. Employers can create a workplace culture that encourages disclosure by people with invisible disabilities by being clear about the competencies required for a job; giving as much information, in accessible formats, as possible in advance; and, in recruitment

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2. Evidence Synthesis of Workplace Accommodation Policies and Practices for Persons with Visible Disabilities

Authors: Emile Tompa, Alexis Buettgen, Quenby Mahood, Kathy Padkapayeva, Andrew Posen, Amin Yazdani

Many Canadians with disabilities are unemployed or underemployed despite being able and willing to work. Workplace accommodations may have tremendous benefits for these people and their employers. We have conducted a scholarly and grey literature review to identify workplace accommodations that can support people with visible disabilities, including sight, hearing and mobility disabilities, chronic pain, auto immune diseases, as well as multiple sclerosis and acquired brain injury. Our review includes details of specific accommodations made by employers, broken down into 17 discrete categories. We provide the references to the studies that describe application of various accommodations in different settings. Besides that, we share helpful tools and recommendations to assist employers with the development of policies and procedures, derived from our grey literature search. Employers have a variety of accommodations at their disposal, and they are encouraged to implement the right combination of customized solutions for their individual employees.

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3. Work Disability Prevention Management System: A proposal for a national standard to Canadian Standard Association (CSA)

Abstract: Given that organizations struggle to identify how to address work disability, there is a need for a national standard based on best practice models for the management of work disability prevention. The proposed Canadian Standard aims to specify requirements for a Work Disability Prevention Management System (WDPMS). The Standard will integrate best current research evidence and the viewpoints and successful practices of multiple stakeholders: employers, workers and worker representatives, clinicians, workers compensation authorities, insurance companies, policy makers, and researchers.

Click here to access the proposal

4. An Environmental Scan of Past Policy Initiatives Addressing Coordination Issues in the Canadian Work Disability Policy System

Abstract: Canada’s disability income support programs such as Canada Pension Plan disability benefits, Employment Insurance sickness benefits, Workers’ Compensation benefits, Social Assistance for people with disabilities, and private disability insurance, largely operate independently from one another. Policymakers, researchers and program users have pointed out that the lack of coordination across these programs has negative consequences for the equity, administrative efficiency and ease of access to supports provided by these programs. Using information collected from policy documents and key informant interviews, this environmental scan examines past efforts that have been made to improve coordination among Canada’s disability income support programs, detailing their successes and obstacles. Ultimately, the scan helps identify important lessons for future attempts at coordination in this policy arena.

The full report will be coming soon.

Click here to access a summary of past policy initiatives identified by this scan and related documents.

5. La mesure de l’incapacité: un état des lieux

Author: Provencher, Y.

RÉSUMÉ: Le présent rapport s’attarde à décrire certains processus, modalités et instruments de mesure des incapacités utilisés dans plusieurs domaines des services publics. La première partie du rapport est consacrée à l’examen des différents instruments de mesure de la prévalence de l’incapacité utilisés dans les enquêtes de population au Québec et au Canada depuis 1986. La seconde partie porte sur la description et la comparaison de quelques instruments de mesure de l’autonomie fonctionnelle utilisés dans les établissements du système de santé et services sociaux québécois. La troisième partie du rapport présente quelques processus, outils et instruments de mesure des incapacités au travail tels que mis en application dans certains régimes publics d’assistance, principalement aux États-Unis. Enfin, la quatrième et dernière partie du rapport présente les caractéristiques essentielles du processus d’évaluation des incapacités au travail au sein du régime québécois d’assistance publique (aide sociale).

CRWDP Student Research 

1. Cameron Crawford (2017) Update on postdoctoral fellowship project "Scoping Decent Work and Disability in Canada". PDF available here