The CEO Poll: Work and disability

Canadian business leaders on barriers to employment.

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

People with disabilities have higher unemployment rates in Canada than those individuals without disabilities. A recent web poll conducted by COMPAS Inc. asked CEOs about the biggest barriers to employment.

The largest obstacle, according to the 106 respondents, is the on-site costs of accommodating people with disabilities. The “interpersonal complexities” and the perception that an employee with a disability may be less skilled, rounded out the top three challenges.

“People with disabilities can be excellent employees,” wrote one respondent. “However, the culture of the company will determine how well they will be accepted.”

A majority of respondents felt the educational system could invest more in preparing young people with disabilities for the working world. The CEOs also agreed that government and post-secondary institutions could do a better job finding internships, and that government incentives are a desirable way to encourage hiring.

A few of the CEOs reiterated the need for incentives, although others proposed solutions that went beyond government assistance. “Allow for training and integration programs to be more flexible in case longer periods of training become necessary because of skill level, or interruptions that occur due to the needs of the trainee,” wrote one respondent.

We need “more public awareness advertising and public service announcements to challenge some of the popular misconceptions about the talents, capabilities and absence of limitations of people with disabilities,” wrote another.