July 21, 2016
A new project launched by Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC), EnAbling Change: From Disability to Inclusion, will see the organization focus on improving equity of access for people with disabilities who work or wish to work in Canada’s electricity industry.
Undertaken with the Ontario government as part of the province’s accessibility efforts, including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA), the project will also help to create national awareness that hiring people with disabilities is socially responsible and good for business, increasing employee morale, productivity, innovation, profitability and the ability to retain talent.
“Our industry has identified the need for diversity in its workforce, including the increased representation of those with disabilities — both visible and invisible, as well as supports for those who experience a disability while employed,” says Michelle Branigan CEO of EHRC. “They have told us that practical tools that can over everything from hiring to accommodation, to accessibility and training, are needed.”
As part of its project activities, EHRC will be developing and promoting a variety of tools and information resources that industry employers can use to meet current and future staffing needs by hiring, advancing, training and retaining people with disabilities.
The tools and communications outreach employed during the project will provide the education and training needed to overcome cultural barriers, dispel myths (e.g. hiring those with disabilities means more work for able-bodied employers), put theory into practice and meet legislative requirements/standards. The project will also highlight best practices in policy development and a knowledge portal will be hosted on the EHRC website at: http://electricityhr.ca to foster uptake of the materials and promote awareness.
In addition to the tools and resources being developed, EHRC will be conducting an industry roundtable to present and discuss effective strategies and best practices for employers in such areas as
• establishing an effective disability inclusion program/culture
• recruitment, training, and retention
• disability management, accommodation and return to work
The roundtable will also identify workplace challenges while providing employers with an opportunity to discuss how to address these issues to affect meaningful change.
Discussions are currently underway to include the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) among the list of keynote speakers for this event to showcase organizations that are actively protecting and promoting mental health in the workplace. This work is part of a case study research project to document how CSA Z1003- Psychological health and safety in the workplace, a national standard published in 2013, is being implemented among employers across Canada.
Industry partners on the EHRC initiative include Horizon Utilities, Powerstream, Ontario Power Generation, New Brunswick Community College, Burlington Hydro Newfoundland Power, the Society of Energy Professionals, LiveWorkPlay, and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
“I think there will be great synergy between the EnAbling Change project and MHCC activities as we see mental health as a huge component of the discussion on disability in the workplace,” says Julia Aitken, Project Manager of Diversity & Inclusion at EHRC.