Ontario Cluster
Policy Pods

Three Ontario Cluster Policy Pods

There are three pods in the Ontario Cluster:

  1.  Building and Transforming Employer’s Capacity
  2.  Income Replacement, and
  3.  System for Monitoring the Employment Rights of People with Disabilities

We want to move our project from research into action-based policy initiatives.

Each policy pod will develop a plan to influence policy. Pods will focus on policy issues that have the potential for immediate change. The focus of the pod will be placed on implementing the plan, rather than creating the proposal. Pods should implement multiple strategies in order to effectively create change. Strategies could include setting meetings with policy decision-makers to share research findings and evidence on policy issues and strategies, creating policy briefs, joining existing groups that are working on policy change, bridging dialogue between employers and policy-makers, etc.

Summary Report from the Ontario Cluster of the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy was completed in September 2020. The purpose of the report is to highlight key issues that came out of the consultations and work done by the Ontario Cluster and its Policy Pods. This report 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. Access the full report (Accessible PDF format)


  1. Building and transforming employer’s capacity

Research Lead: Marcia Rioux (mrioux@yorku.ca)

Student Leads: Douglas Waxman (douglaswaxman@gmail.com) and Samadhi Mora Severino (vsamadhi@my.yorku.ca)

The first Employer’s Capacity policy pod meeting was held on February 7th. The second meeting is planned in April, 2017. Meeting agenda for the meeting in April and notes from the first meeting


1. Partnership council on employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. "Employable Until Proven Otherwise". The final report from the Council advising the government on how to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

2. Rethinking DisAbility in the Private Sector – Report from the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.


  1. Income Replacement

Research Lead: Rebecca Gewurtz (gewurtz@mcmaster.ca)

Student Leads: Pamela Lahey (laheypm@mcmaster.ca) and Dana Corfield (dccorfield@gmail.com)

Leads Rebecca Gewurtz, Pamela Lahey and Dana Corfield organized the first Income Replacement policy pod meeting on December 5th, 2016 which was attended by 12 members. The first meeting provided an introduction to the team and an overview of the policy questions and action plan for consideration.

The following three goals were set: 1) to identify what we know (what innovative policy strategies are out there); 2) to map how to increase policy change (actions we could take, such as research, networking or advocacy, and 3) take action towards implementation.

As a starting point, members are pooling information on what they are already doing, as well as knowledge of existing policy strategies including jurisdiction, policy strategy, and impact/comments. The next step will be for the pod to identify priorities and areas to focus on.


  1. System for Monitoring the Employment Rights of People with Disabilities

Research Lead: Cameron Crawford (cameroncrawford@sympatico.ca)

Student Lead: Tammy Bernasky (tammyphd@yorku.ca)

Leads Cameron Crawford and Tammy Bernasky spent a significant amount of effort engaging key members to join the Systems for Monitoring policy pod (for example Piero Narducci, Acting Director General, Human Rights Promotion Branch, Canadian Human Rights Commission and Michael Gottheil, Social Justice Tribunals of Ontario). They organized the first meeting on January 4, 2017 where they gathered ideas on the information needed to inform a system for monitoring and reporting on human rights in employment which was then summarized and discussed at the meeting.

The pod will continue to explore the following questions:

  1. What should this monitoring system be designed to achieve? E.g., What are the purposes/aims it should be designed to serve? Why?
  2. Who should this monitoring system encompass?
  3. What are the key issues and units of information / analysis that are needed for a robust and effective monitoring system?
  4. Who has the needed information / analysis, or could (should) be approached to develop or obtain it?