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When and how do financial incentives work best to promote the hiring and retention of people with disabilities? Researchers to find answers

Published in the Institute for Work & Health on June 27, 2019

Federally funded research project to produce guidelines and resources for policy-makers, employment service providers, employers and people with disabilities on best use of financial incentives

(Toronto, Ont.)—Wage subsidies and other financial supports are widely used by Canadian governments to encourage employers to hire people with disabilities. Yet, employers, disability advocates, service providers and people with disabilities hold strong and often polarized views about the merits of these incentives.

Although government-funded financial incentives to encourage the employment of people with disabilities are quite common in developed countries, the research on this topic is surprisingly scarce, says Institute for Work & Health (IWH) Senior Scientist Dr. Emile Tompa, who is co-lead on this project. We’re going to find out in what contexts financial incentives work well or do not work well, and why, with the ultimate goal of improving sustainable, paid work for people with disabilities.

Key partners in the project include Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which administers the $40-million Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, and the national employment service provider Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW). Employers are also among the partners, with Jazz Aviation and a Giant Tiger franchise having already signed on.

This partnership will directly benefit job-seekers with disabilities, as well as the community organizations serving them, the employers hiring them and the policy-makers developing programs to support them, says Dr. Rebecca Gewurtz, an associate professor in McMaster University’s School of Rehabilitation Science and co-lead on this project. We believe our research on financial incentives will help move stakeholders beyond their polarized opinions and inform incentive programs going forward.

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