Rain or shine, five minutes before his shift starts, Eastview RV’s staff member through Employ All arrives at work on his bicycle.
The supportive employment program is provincially funded and being offered locally by Northern College, Canadian Hearing Society, and March of Dimes Canada.
“We’ve come together to deliver supportive employment in a unified manner to improve employment outcomes for job seekers with disabilities in this area. And our goal is to help all individuals with disabilities secure competitive longterm employment and also assist with some of the labour market shortages we’re seeing in this area,” said the March of Dimes’ Ainslie Armstrong.
Armstrong, along with Northern College employment options and academic upgrading manager Kelly Torresan, talked to Timmins Chamber of Commerce members about the benefits of the program this week, with employers also sharing their success stories.
Eastview RV Timmins service manager Guy Moisan wants to crush the myths — such as unreliability, high turnover rates or health and safety concerns — about hiring a person with a disability.
The young man that’s part of their team is starting off in a cleaning job, taking care of the store’s entrance and gradually doing other things.
Moisan said you can smell when he’s been working.
“Because you walk in, it smells nice. It’s fresh, he takes his time and he is proud of the work he does. And we remind him of that, we remind him of how well he does a job,” he said.
Not only is he early for his shift, Moisan reported that he arrives in uniform and is always smiling.
“He’s a joy to have with you and it’s fun to have him there,” he said.
For Moisan, the program is about giving people a chance.
He has a son with autism, and doesn’t believe in labelling people.
“Give them a chance, you won’t regret it,” he said.
GDI Integrated Services has also experienced success.
General manager of Northern Ontario Dwight Leach said they’ve been involved with the March of Dimes for several years.
In that time, he said the organization has provided GDI with many people who are now fulltime, permanent employees.
“To all you employers, I encourage you to tap into this underutilized and talented segment of the workforce, they will meet or exceed your expectations,” Leach said.
There are many benefits to the program.
Torresan said there are subsidies available to help companies pay the employee, they provide pre-employment training, and it increases the workplace diversity.
Job coaching is another highlight.
“So you’re not utilizing all your resources to train, we can assist you with that. We can also assist you with educating the rest of your employees on different disabilities and give you some tools that will allow you to retain the employee,” she said.
Funding is also available to enhance their skills.
For example, Torresan said they can pay for SmartServe or AODA training or other licensing, along with special equipment that may be needed.
“As a service provider we will identify and take into consideration what your needs are as an employer and what the client skills are and we will do a job match for you,” Torresan said.