Saskatchewan using October to recognize workers with disabilities

By Terry Davidson

Law360 Canada (October 5, 2023, 3:24 PM EDT) -- Saskatchewan is proclaiming October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.

According to an Oct. 4 news release, the province’s government is doing this through a partnership with SARC, a charitable association of around 100 community-based organizations giving support to those living with disabilities.

Designating October as Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) “provides an opportunity to recognize the importance of a diverse workforce and celebrate the many contributions individuals with disabilities make to Saskatchewan businesses and communities,” it states.

This comes just months after the province passed The Accessible Saskatchewan Act, legislation aimed at preventing and removing accessibility barriers in the province.

The Act includes a rollout plan for the province, itself, and will establish an Accessibility Advisory Committee — of which at least half its membership will consist of people with disabilities or people from organizations representing those with disabilities.

It also creates a Saskatchewan Accessibility Office, which will enforce and monitor the compliance to the Act, as well as provide education on its laws. The Act also calls for the publishing of an annual report detailing how the legislation is being implemented.  

Saskatchewan Immigration and Career Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said DEAM provides a chance to recognize those with disabilities in the province’s workforce.  

“I am proud of the work our government and SARC continue to do to build a diverse and inclusive work environment for all,” Harrison said in a statement.

SARC executive director Amy McNeil spoke of the benefits of “equitable and inclusive” workplaces.

“When employers hire people experiencing disability, they create equitable and inclusive workplaces and strengthen their workplace culture,” said McNeil. “This results in more engaged employees and increased job satisfaction. There is a wealth of talented and skilled workers who are ready and able to make tremendous contributions to the success of businesses across Saskatchewan.”

McNeil went on to say that SARC and its member organizations will use October to celebrate “inclusive Saskatchewan employers who recognize this potential.”

Similarly, Saskatchewan Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky said “[e]veryone benefits when people with disabilities participate in meaningful employment.”

“Employees benefit from the inclusive experience, and employers benefit from a diverse and dedicated workforce. We appreciate those employers who work to provide accommodations that will ensure employee success. Disability Employment Awareness Month gives us all an opportunity to look to the future of a Saskatchewan that is accessible to all.”

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