Quotes on CRWDP from launch speakers and other supporters

February 4, 2014

Quotes from people scheduled to speak at the launch

Canada needs all of its talents at work to ensure job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. I applaud the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy for taking on the important goal of identifying better policies for retraining and integrating Canadians with disabilities into the workplace.

The Honourable Mike Lake, Member of Parliament for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, Edmonton, Alta.

Employment for the disabled is a civil right. This exciting new national initiative can and will make a difference for disabled Canadians in opening up job markets, skills and minds. Quality of life for all Canadians is justice not charity, and it’s time now to have the fierce urgency to make it happen.

Mike Bradley, Mayor, Sarnia, Ont.

SSHRC is very pleased to support research by the CRWDP team and its partners. Their research will help to shape future disabilities studies and policies, and contribute to greater inclusivity for persons with disabilities in society. It is this focus on people, in the past and present, with a view to creating a better future, which defines social sciences and humanities research.

Brent Herbert-Copley, Vice-President, Research and Research Capacity, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Ottawa, Ont.

This national initiative will bring together normally separate communities—the workers’ compensation community and the disability/social welfare communities—to address a common issue: how the work disability policy system in Canada can better meet the needs of the variety of working-age individuals who turn to it for support.

Steve Mantis, Past Secretary and Current Research Liaison, Ontario Network for Injured Workers Group, Thunder Bay, Ont.

Creating greater employment opportunities for persons with disabilities is not only the right thing to do; it makes good economic sense. A win/win opportunity exists and can be realized. However, for this to happen, it must be recognized that a critical element is a comprehensive policy framework that enables accommodation of people’s disability-related needs and facilitates real and substantive workforce inclusion.

Marie Ryan, Partner, Goss-Gilroy Inc.; Past Chair, Council of Canadians with Disabilities, St. John’s, Nfld.

Our coordinated and trans-disciplinary applied research effort is a new approach to addressing the complex challenge of work disability policy. We are bringing together academic talent from across the country and working closely with partners to identify a roadmap for the future of work disability policy in Canada.

We have partners integrated into all aspects of this initiative, including its governance, research and knowledge mobilization. A key feature is our “champions group.” This is a group of people in positions of authority and leadership to speak up about the relevance of problems and the need for change. Champions are a critical part of the CRWDP.

Our guiding framework for the initiative is human rights. We recognize the entitlement of all people in Canada, including those with disabilities, to have equal access to basic rights and fundamental freedoms, including employment and education. This perspective is a confirmed direction of our federal government.

Emile Tompa, Senior Scientist, Institute for Work & Health; Associate Professor, McMaster University; Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.

The challenge our current disability support system faces is this: With the changing nature of work and the workforce, there are more and more people with health conditions or impairments who can and want to work, but need some support to do so. Yet some don’t quality for appropriate work reintegration support from any one program and, without it, they are falling into the grey zone of unemployment. They need an income and want to work, but they need help to get there.

In Canada, we have programs in place to help people who are temporarily unemployed or who are permanently disabled. But these are tailored to specific circumstances and are not coordinated with each other. The programs have their own eligibility criteria and different definitions of things like ‘disability’ and ‘unable to work.’ It’s hard for people to access this system.

Research is important because it helps us to understand how things work as they do and how our system might be improved. But researchers cannot do it alone. We need to work directly with partners to understand conditions on the ground. We need public figures to champion our cause and effort and to help us to bring people together to discussion forums and policy round tables.

Ellen MacEachen, Senior Scientist, Institute for Work & Health; Associate Professor, McMaster University; Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.

Quotes from other supporters of CRWDP

CRWDP provides an opportunity for community organizations, decision-makers and researchers from many different disciplines to work together to get a much broader understanding about the many factors that contribute to disability in the Canadian context. The collection and aggregation of multiple sources of data will provide a more complete picture of the challenges and opportunities to prevent and mitigate the negative consequences of disability so that all people can participate in the workforce.

Marc White, Executive Director, Canadian Institute for the Relief of Pain and Disability (CIRPD), Vancouver, B.C.

I have spent many years helping persons with disabilities navigate the complexities of Canada’s disability programs. Unfortunately, due in large part to discontinuities among the programs, many disabled people have poor employment outcomes. I am confident that the researchers and partners associated with the centre will identify changes in disability policy that will bring major improvements in the wellbeing and outcomes for persons with disabilities.

Alec Farquhar, Director, Office of the Worker Adviser (OWA), Toronto, Ont.

There are significant numbers of people who are under and unemployed in Canada or who have precarious relationships to the labour force. It is my expectation that we will be able to create conditions under which people with disabilities, First Nations and aboriginal people, racialized people and women can participate in the labour force.

Marcia Rioux, Professor, School of Health Policy and Management, York University; Director, York Institute of Health Research, Toronto, Ont.

Having lost a husband due to a workplace injury in 1988 and having a son with a life-changing, work-based brain injury from 2000, and seeing supports and fair compensation eroded over the past 25 years, I strongly believe that it is imperative to have academic research in conjunction with injured worker and family groups to provide momentum for science-based change to improve outcomes for injured workers in Canada.

Patricia MacAhonic, Advisor, Canadian Injured Workers Alliance; Executive Director, Ann Davis Transition Society, Chilliwack, B.C.