Employers in British Columbia are receiving support to create inclusive work environments for people with disabilities through a $4.8-million grant from the Province.
“Many people with disabilities are interested in securing a good job but have experienced additional barriers due to the pandemic,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This new funding will support employers and businesses committed to building more inclusive and accessible workplaces in hiring staff that reflect the diversity of our province.”
Over the next two years, Small Business BC will work with the Presidents Group on the Employer Supports for Persons with Disabilities project. The goal of the project is to support employers to hire, rehire and retain people with disabilities for long-term successful employment. The Presidents Group is a network of 25 change-driven B.C. business leaders who are champions for more accessible, inclusive workplaces.
Most of the funding will support small businesses in making their workplaces more accessible. Small businesses can apply for Workplace Accessibility Grants of up to $1,000 to remove physical, communication and other barriers. These funds will also support awareness campaigns and learning and development resources offered by the Presidents Group and Small Business BC. Each September, which the Province proclaims as Disability Employment Month, Small Business BC hosts a series of webinars on the benefits of inclusive hiring practices. Small Business BC will provide additional information about the grant opportunities and programs via a dedicated website in a short time.
While employment levels in B.C. are beginning to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, populations already facing barriers to employment – like people living with disabilities – may take longer to reach the same recovery levels. These include people with mental illness, invisible disabilities, communication disabilities and physical disabilities. With this funding, government remains committed to helping address barriers and create more inclusive workplaces.
Small Business BC helps British Columbia’s entrepreneurs grow successful and sustainable businesses through expert business advisors, educational services, easy-to-use free resources and community events.
The Province has proclaimed May 30 to June 5, 2021, as B.C.’s fourth annual AccessAbility Week, to promote inclusion and accessibility, while also celebrating the people in the disability community who are working to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. B.C.’s week coincides with National AccessAbility Week and National Indigenous AccessAbility Week.
Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility –
“Attitudinal barriers are one of the biggest challenges people with disabilities face, especially when it comes to long-term employment. Our government is committed to supporting employers in building inclusive workplaces, and Small Business BC and the President’s Group will help us amplify this work.”
Tom Conway, CEO, Small Business BC –
“Small Business BC strives for itself and its small business clients to create open, accessible, inclusive and equitable environments in which every individual has the opportunity to flourish. We are honoured to be supporting workplace accessibility to be fully inclusive of our entrepreneurs, employees and clients with disabilities.”
Lisa Beecroft, co-chair, the Presidents Group –
“Hiring inclusively makes good business sense, and we know that with the right supports, B.C. employers can make themselves accessible. This funding will help businesses reduce barriers and raise awareness of accessibility with employers across the province. Reaching the small business community has long been a priority for us, so we’re really excited to be working with and supporting Small Business BC on this initiative."
- In British Columbia, there are 523,800 small businesses that employ fewer than 50 people.
- Over 33% of people with disabilities reported experiencing a temporary or permanent job loss or reduced hours due to the pandemic.
- In 2017, there were an estimated 926,100 British Columbians over the age of 15 who reported having a disability.
- The proposed accessible British Columbia act was introduced to the legislature on April 28, 2021.
Learn more about British Columbia’s accessibility legislation: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility
Read more about Small Business BC on its website: https://smallbusinessbc.ca/accessibility-resources
More information about the Presidents Group’s commitment to accessible employment can be found here: https://accessibleemployers.ca/