2021 Proclamation of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Toronto Keeps Conversation Going in Watershed Year

Toronto, ON — Mayor John Tory has proclaimed October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Toronto for the third year in a row, helping to keep the conversation about disability inclusion in business and employment going at a challenging point in time for both local businesses and employment service providers.

“There’s more awareness of, action on and commitment to disability inclusion,” says Jeannette Campbell, CEO of The Ontario Disability Employment Network.

“At the same time, however, disability inclusion-related efforts still too often get left behind when business are reacting to change or crisis. It’s important for businesses across the city to not lose sight of their inclusion goals because in the long term, that’s not good for business.”

Toronto businesses that survived months of closure during the pandemic have been reopening, and beginning to try to recover. Many businesses, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sector, are desperately short staffed.

Campbell says that with the restart of the economy, staffing shortages and October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Toronto, “now is a good time for local businesses to ensure their hiring practices are disability inclusive.”

This is part of strategic planning, which is always the path to long-term success, so “Businesses should make sure intentional disability-inclusive recruiting is part of that planning,” Campbell explains.

“There are more than 600,000 Canadians who have a disability, who want to, and can, work. This includes many Torontonians,” Campbell says. “People who have a disability are the world’s largest minority, and they’re also the most under-utilized and unemployed minority group. The reality is, this is a talent pool that Toronto businesses need to access to remain successful in the future.”

She adds, “There are over 93,500 businesses in Toronto, and many of them are small and medium enterprises. These businesses are experiencing a significant labour shortage. Recruiting job-seekers who have a disability  can help fill the labour gap, and help any business grow and be profitable.”

A 2018 report by the Business Development Bank of Canada noted that 40% of entrepreneurial businesses were having trouble finding workers — with no end to the shortage in sight, for at least a decade. The report also said small firms affected by a labour shortage “are 65% more likely to be low-growth businesses.”

But when a business focuses on intentional disability-inclusive recruiting, growth surges forward. A 2020 Accenture study found that businesses focused on disability inclusion grow their sales 2.9 times faster, and their profits 4.1 times faster, than other companies.

Campbell explains, successes happen when employers know and understand the business benefits of disability-inclusive hiring.

Campbell notes, research shows that small businesses in Toronto are less likely to be aware of disability talent than large companies with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) mandates and dedicated DEI resources.

A 2017 study by the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work found that 73% of small businesses have never hired people who have a disability because they don’t know how to access the hidden talent pool. Toronto has a large number of professional employment service providers available to support businesses with their hiring needs, matching them to the skills and talents of job seekers who have a disability.

Says Campbell, “The mayor’s proclamation again this year, adds strength to the call for businesses to be strategic about inclusive hiring; to be more proactive and intentional about recruiting qualified people who have a disability; and make hiring skilled Torontonians from the disability talent pool, business as usual.”


For more information, and to arrange interviews, contact:  
Dean Askin, Communications Strategist, ODEN     daskin@odenetwork.com  416-818-1514 (cell)


ABOUT ODEN: The Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN), created in 2008, is a professional body of more than 130 employment service providers united to increase employment opportunities for people who have a disability. Members are from every corner of the province and support people of all disability types. Beyond Ontario, ODEN (odenetwork.com) has connections with organizations in other provinces and territories of Canada. Light It Up! For NDEAMTM is a trademark of the Ontario Disability Employment Network.