Disability: making employment accessible for real
Hiring people with disabilities and claiming to be inclusive is good. But it is still necessary to understand their real needs and accommodate their requests for accommodation. Missteps remain.
Leaving a position for lack of accommodations when you were recruited as part of a program to hire people with disabilities. Being told that you risk injuring colleagues with your chair by moving around the office. Losing a job opportunity because you have to finish your shift 15 minutes earlier than the others to take your transport suitable.
These situations have been experienced by people with disabilities in businesses or state corporations who nevertheless present themselves as leaders in terms of inclusion. If these cases are not the norm, they still show that there is still a long way to go to make people understand the need for accommodation requests in the workplace.
Martin Prévost is co-founder and director of support at Neuro Plus, an organization that works a bit like a placement agency for neurodivergent people. In 35 years of work for the inclusion of people with disabilities in employment, he has worked with people who present all kinds of conditions, whether cognitive or physical.
< p>“Sometimes, we encounter blockages that are hard to explain, because it's not a big request for accommodation,” he notes even today.
While it can be difficult for people with disabilities to make their requests understood by their employer, there are resources that can help them. Some people choose not to use them for all sorts of reasons, but others simply don't know they exist.
Such resources include Moelle spinal and motricity Quebec (MEMO-Qc). Nathalie Michaud, who is director of integration services there, explains that the cases where accommodation requests are refused remain anecdotal… but that's good because their team of stakeholders is there to help employers understand them.
“Things usually go very well and when there are problems, our intervention makes the difference,” she says.
Martin Prévost is essentially going in the same direction. “It happens that the employer refuses, but he has an obligation to accommodate, he said. He can only be relieved of this obligation for a fairly limited number of reasons. This is the case, among other things, when the accommodation threatens the health or safety of the person requesting it or of other people, or when it involves an unreasonable financial investment.
About the cost for companies, Maude Massicotte, communications officer at the Regroupement des organizations specialized in the employment of disabled people (ROSEPH), indicates that many employers are unaware that there are employability programs to help them. “The government can give subsidies for accommodations or to compensate [lower productivity],” she explains. ROSEPH also offers business consulting services.
The lack of education of employers about people with disabilities is also observed on other levels. “I have often had employers who had never hired people with disabilities before I met them, says Martin Prévost. They didn't know what to do, they were afraid of not doing things right or even making the situation worse.”
Yet, as the co-founder of Neuro Plus points out, people with disabilities apply for jobs they know they can do. “There are no blind people asking to be bus drivers,” he says.
According to him, the solution could go through compulsory and free training. If the CNESST requires that a certain number of employees be trained in first aid, why not require the same principle to promote inclusion in companies?
“We have laws which, without obliging the hiring of people with disabilities, prohibit us from discriminating, specifies Martin Prévost. But unfortunately, even within state agencies, there are still practices that are discriminatory or appear to be discriminatory and that go against the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.”
He gives the example of the CIUSSS, which ask to fill out a medical questionnaire as soon as you apply. Better education among employers could therefore make it possible to better detect this type of practice which can be discriminatory.
In the eye of Crown corporations
Clémence Beaulieu-Gendron, public affairs and communications spokesperson at the SAQ, explains that the Crown corporation assesses all development requests and seeks a solution adapted to each one. To his knowledge, it has never happened that a request has been refused.
Only 0.64% of the company's employees self-identify as being in a situation of disability, but various initiatives are being undertaken to increase this figure to 1% in the next year.
At CBC/Radio-Canada, 4% (including 2.1% at Radio-Canada) of the total workforce identify as people with disabilities, says Emma Iannetta, Senior Specialist, Media Relations, strategy and public affairs at the public broadcaster.
However, she cannot answer questions regarding requests for accommodation made by people with disabilities, as these requests are not centralized . “What I can tell you is that at CBC/Radio-Canada, we have made a commitment that half of new hires in executive and senior management positions will be from Indigenous and Indigenous peoples. people with disabilities and people of color, and that we will double the retention and promotion rates for members of these three groups,” writes the publicist at Métro.
Because it's all very well to hire people with disabilities, you still have to know how to respond to their requests to enable them to perform their work well, just to keep them in the company. < /p>