RIVERVIEW, N.B. – A Riverview family says more needs to be done to educate employers about the benefits of hiring people with different abilities in New Brunswick.
Twenty-two-year-old David Tatta has been struggling to find work for months. Living on a disability pension and social assistance, he says he’d much rather be working.
If he could find someone to hire him.
“So I can have better savings,” he said.
Tatta dreams of being a chef one day, but at this point he’d settle for just about any kind of kitchen work.
“Mopping floors and washing dishes,” he said.
Tatta is one of thousands of people trying to find work in New Brunswick. But he’s not like everyone else. He’s autistic, which his mother Sharon Joseph says is making it even harder to find someone willing to hire him.
“I think the real secret, the real key is to educate the employer,” she said.
According to Haley Flaro of Ability New Brunswick, the province has among the highest rate of persons with disabilities in Canada, second only to Nova Scotia.
There are nearly 124,000 disabled people in the province and half of them are not working, according to Statistics Canada.
Many, instead, draw disability pensions or social assistance.
“We have amazing and incredible assets in New Brunswick in terms of different skills, training, literacy and funding programs but not everyone knows about them,” Flaro said.
She says the employment rate among people with disabilities has improved since the province implemented a five-year “Employment Action Plan for Person with a Disability in New Brunswick” plan in 2012.
But she says only about half of the recommendations have been implemented so far.
“We still have a long way to go,” she said.”There’s lots of research that shows that people with a disability often have better work habits and better attendance and stay longer term in positions.”
She says there are now more provincial job placement programs offering wage subsidy incentives, but they do not lead to long-term employment.
Flaro says the province must focus more on permanent employment for people like Tatta.
Right now, Tatta makes just over $600/month on social assistance and disability. He hopes to find a job soon, because he says he’d much rather be paying his own way.