MP’s Motion wins all-party support
Published in Brantford Expositor , February 13, 2014
Lisa Hooper says the passage of Brant MP Phil McColeman’s private member’s motion will help more people with disabilities find jobs.
The motion, M-430, called Strengthening Employment for Canadians with Disabilities, received unanimous support Wednesday in the House of Commons.
“I’m ecstatic about the passing of this,” said Hooper, president of Brantford-based L. Tara Hooper and Associates, which has been helping find employment for people with disabilities for the past 16 years.
“It contains so many actions that can be addressed. It encourages private sector businesses to realize there is untapped potential out there and a solid business case for hiring people with disabilities.”
McColeman’s motion calls for initiatives to improve the social and economic inclusion of those with disabilities. That includes a focus on young people through programs such as the Youth Employment Strategy, improvements to Labour Market Agreements for People with Disabilities, and new approaches to ensure government programs are “adaptable, flexible and able to capitalize on innovative strategies happening at the community level across Canada.”
The motion also issues a call to the private sector to “break down barriers and eliminate myths and stigmas about disabled workers.”
“One of the main impediments to participation is lack of awareness on the part of employers,” said McColeman.
Evidence the government is listening came in the federal budget tabled last week, which McColeman said included commitments that respond directly to proposals contained in his motion.
“Phil McColeman deserves a great deal of credit for his hard work and commitment to improving job opportunities for Canadians living with disabilities,” said Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada.
The budget includes a commitment of $222 million annually over the next four years, through a new generation of Labour Market Agreements of Persons with Disabilities; and $14 million over three years to the Canadian Association for Community Living’s Ready, Willing and Able initiative, which encourages employers to hire and support youth and adults with developmental disabilities. The budget also included $11.4 million over four years to support training programs for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
“Most of the items put out in the motion are moving forward through the budget announcement,” said McColeman. “I am overwhelmed by the support. It has been a great week for me in Parliament.”
It was almost a year ago that McColeman unveiled his motion at the Brantford Volkswagen dealership. For two years prior to that, he said he travelled the country talking to advocacy groups for the disabled who shared their opinions about what’s needed to help them find work.
It’s estimated there are 800,000 working-aged Canadians who are unemployed but whose disability doesn’t prevent them from working. Of this group, 340,000 people have a post-secondary education.
The MP has a personal connection to the issue as the father of a
27-year-old son with intellectual disabilities. He said he worked for years with local agencies including Lansdowne Children’s Centre where he met families facing similar issues.
When given a private member’s opportunity, McColeman said he decided on a motion rather than a bill because it would have more impact.
“Private member bills are very difficult to get through Parliament. Motions are calls for action but they aren’t binding. But the goals are much more achievable and can be done in an expedited way.”