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Half of Canadians living with disabilities don’t have a job: poll

Linda Gauthier said employers need to bring a different mentality to the office when they evaluate employees with disabilities, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017.
Linda Gauthier said employers need to bring a different mentality to the office when they evaluate employees with disabilities, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. Billy Shields/Global News

About half of Canadians living with disabilities don’t have a full- or part-time job, according to a new Angus Reid survey, commissioned by CIBC.

In 2011, the employment rate of Canadians aged 25 to 64 with disabilities was 49 per cent, compared with 79 per cent of Canadians without a disability.

READ MORE: Quebec asks disabled woman on welfare to repay money earned begging

More than two-thirds of the people who answered the questionnaire responded they were underemployed because of their disability.

University graduates with a disability were less likely to hold a management position.

They also earned less than those without a disability, especially men.

READ MORE: Accessibility activists demonstrate on Montreal metro’s 50th birthday

Among Canadians with a disability, 12 per cent reported having been refused a job in the previous five years as a result of their condition.

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The percentage was 33 per cent among 25- to 34-year-olds with a severe or very severe disability.

It’s grim news for advocates of people with disabilities.

In fact, a Statistics Canada survey from 2011 indicates Quebec had the lowest employment probability among people with handicaps in the country.

Part of the problem, according to RAPLIQ president Linda Gauthier, is a lack of accessible public transit.

READ MORE: Woman in wheelchair who got stuck in turnstile wants better access

“For example, you start work at 9 a.m., you want to get there for 9 a.m.,” she explained.

“If we use para-transit, we’ll have to get there before because they’re always late.”

Recently, advocates have pushed harder to have their voices heard.

When the Montreal Metro system celebrated its 50th anniversary, protesters demonstrated for better accessibility.

READ MORE: Canadians suffering from disability denial, survey finds

Advocates were also furious when the du Canal AMT station was built without an elevator to the platform because the expense wasn’t worked into the budget.

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The employment issue is linked to a bigger problem, Gauthier told Global News.

She wants employers to try to change their mentality when looking to hire those living with disabilities.

“I think it’s stigmatization on the part of employers,” Gauthier said.

— With files by the Canadian Press.

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