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1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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)

Click here to access final summary report (word version)

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.

Click here to download the report (pdf)

6. 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.

Click here to access the full report (pdf); click here to access the full report (word)

7. Dismantling the Welfare Wall for Persons with Disabilities

Author: Sherri Torjman

Click here to access report summary; click here to access the full report (pdf); click here to access the full report (text).

8. 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.

Click here to access the full report (pdf); click here to access word version of the report

9. 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.

Click here to access the full report (pdf, French); click here to access word version of the report (French)

10. 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.

Click here to access the full report

11. 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.

Click here to access the full report (pdf); click here to access word version of the report

12. 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.

Click here to access the full report (pdf); click here to access word version of the report

13. 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.

Click here to access the full report (pdf); click here to access word version of the report

14. 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.

Click here to access the full report (pdf); click here to access the word version of the report

15. 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).

Click here to access the full report (pdf); click here to access the word version of the report

16. 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.

Click here to access the full report (pdf); click here to access the word version of the report

17. 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

18. 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

Click here to access the full report (pdf); click here to access the word version of the report

19. 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.

Click here to access the full report (pdf); click here to access the word version of the report

20. 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

21. 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.

22. 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