The Victoria Disability Resource Centre offers help finding employment in the city. (Keili Bartlett/News staff)

Victoria Disability Resource Centre helps people find jobs

Statistics Canada survey found people with disabilities face higher rate of unemployment

A new survey by Statistics Canada found the employment rate of working-age adults in the country was at 80 per cent in 2017 — but only 59 per cent for people with disabilities.

For one in five people with disabilities, the survey found their day-to-day lives were limited by their disability. That’s 6.2 million Canadians.

While the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability isn’t broken into the geographical location of the participants, in Victoria, the Victoria Disability Resource Centre strives to help people with disabilities who are looking for work.

READ MORE: B.C. needs disability act: Victoria council

“There is a very high population of persons with disabilities in Victoria, especially mobility disabilities, and it’s because the weather is so nice. We see a lot of people coming to the centre who have moved from out east to Victoria mainly because of the weather,” Wendy Cox, the executive director of the Victoria Disability Resource Centre, said.

Many of the 10,000 people who visit the VDRC annually seek information about accessible housing and jobs. The centre offers a one-on-one Working Together program with the Neil Squire Society. It helps with writing résumés and cover letters, as well as interview skills, and the benefits and risks of disclosing a disability. Between 100 and 200 people have taken the course in the four years it has been available in Victoria.

“It can be hard when somebody’s handed out hundreds of résumés and gone to interviews and still is not getting any jobs. It kind of breaks you down, breaks your spirit. It is hard for anybody, not just for people with disabilities, but a lot of people with disabilities go in thinking ‘Why even bother’,” Cox said. “It’s helping people get over that and build their confidence.”

The 2017 survey found that severity impacted employment, with people who have more severe disabilities two and a half times less likely to be employed. The 59 per cent rate of employment for people with disabilities fell to 31 per cent for people with very severe disabilities, and nearly one-third of those who are employed with more severe disabilities live in poverty.

For people who have been newly injured and may be re-entering the workforce with a disability, it’s important to be realistic about workloads, Cox said. They have to maintain a work-life balance to make sure they’re taking care of any new needs they may have. That might mean scaling back hours at work so the employee still has energy once they get home.

“You have to balance that because then you’re going to burn out,” she said. “Start slow and then build up.”

READ MORE: Including ‘invisible disabilities’ in Stats Canada survey important, said resource centre

The main concern she hears is when someone should disclose that they have a disability. She said that decision often depends on the type and severity of the disability and what the job is.

Cox, who uses a wheelchair, said when she was looking for a job she didn’t mention her wheelchair on her resume. She’d wait until she was contacted for an interview, and then ask them about how accessible the building was and if there was an elevator.

“Just to give them a heads up, because I don’t want to roll into the interview and shock them and then have them have to make room and it’s going to be awkward,” Cox said.

For people with mental health issues or a learning disability, there might not be a need to disclose that information if it won’t affect job performance. If it will affect how someone can do their job, VRDC can help with how to present that information and offer suggestions for tools to help.

“It’s really putting forward the person’s abilities and how they can do the job rather than focusing on their disability,” Cox said. “When it comes down to it, there needs to be a change in people’s mindsets when it comes to people with disabilities and seeing them as equal counterparts in society and able to contribute just as much.”

READ and WATCH MORE: Only half of Victoria’s accessible parking meets basic standards: report


@KeiliBartlett
keili.bartlett@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

North Saanich Fire Department wins national Movember challenge

Team raises more than urban Edmonton, Toronto firefighters

Province launches lawsuit over Esquimalt sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after being dropped from marine lift in 2018

Saanich police first in B.C. to offer mental health resiliency training

Departments from Oak Bay, Saanich, Central Saanich complete trauma training class

Peninsula Panthers jump into first place with win over arch-rivals Victoria Cougars

Cougars beat the Panthers in all three previous games before Sunday’s 2-1 victory

Crash backs up northbound lanes of Pat Bay Highway

Drive BC warns of heavy congestion along busy route

VIDEO: Kenney lays out key demands for meeting with Trudeau

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney aims for clear signs of federal action on two-day Ottawa trip

First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

Assessed value of Lower Mainland homes expected to decrease in 2020

Other areas of province may see modest increases over last year’s values

Chilliwack family’s therapy dog injured in hit and run

Miniature pit bull Fifty’s owner is a single mother facing close to $10,000 in vet bills

Cougar destroyed in Penticton area after mauling dog, killing cat

This is the first reported incident with a cougar this year in the Penticton area

Feds not enforcing standards on Hungarian duck imports, B.C. farmer says

‘You have no way of knowing what’s in the bag’

No reports yet of Canadians affected by New Zealand volcano eruption, feds say

Missing and injured included tourists from the U.S., China, Australia, Britain and Malaysia

Vancouver Island blues musician’s mother’s home burglarized and ransacked

David Gogo’s 71-year-old mother has jewelry and artwork stolen in break-in

Dance cancelled after Alberta teacher’s climate lesson prompts online threats

School district near Red Deer cancelled annual family dance due to Facebook comments

Most Read