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Open Letter to the Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

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Open Letter to the Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Members of the Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities,

It is my pleasure to sincerely thank you for your leadership, expertise and dedication to building a more accessible and inclusive Ontario.

You have dedicated much of the last two years to exploring innovative, strategic and evidence-based solutions that government can implement to address the high unemployment rates and marginalization experienced by far too many Ontarians with disabilities.

With this report, you have skillfully, professionally and persuasively fulfilled your mandate, and I want to congratulate you on your exemplary service to our province. Your commitment has been matched by the breadth and rigour of this report.

Like you, I believe that improving employment opportunities for people of all abilities can strengthen the social fabric of our province, while growing our economy in global markets.

I agree wholeheartedly with the assertion that "everyone has something to contribute to society, and everyone has the right to contribute." Our government is committed to helping everyone to have the opportunity to contribute as well. We will demonstrate strong, strategic leadership on this issue as we continue to make progress towards our commitment to building an accessible Ontario by 2025.

I want to assure you that our government takes this report, and the advice you have provided throughout your mandate, seriously. And we agree that a whole-of-government approach is the best way to achieve our desired outcomes. As the new Minister Responsible for Accessibility, I will bring together resources from across government to break down employment barriers experienced by people with disabilities.

Ontario's Provincial Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities, announced in the 2016 Budget, is the direct result of your interim report. We are adopting a multi-dimensional approach to shaping -- and eventually implementing -- this strategy, bringing resources and programs together from multiple ministries into a cohesive, focused response that addresses the needs of people with disabilities and employers alike. This final report will provide a reference point for the committee of senior leaders tasked with developing the strategy.

I want you to know that your final report has been shared throughout government and has formed the basis of thorough discussion among ministries. As we build on our Accessibility Action Plan commitments -- and move forward in pursuit of an inclusive province by 2025 -- your report will help us focus on the labour-market needs of businesses and people with disabilities. It will also keep the need for a culture shift front and centre.

I am excited that many of your recommendations align with actions our government is already in the process of taking. We are reforming social assistance to help more people with disabilities enter the workforce. We recognize the importance of supporting employment opportunities for young people and will continue to look for ways to ensure that youth receive what they need to transition into the workforce.

We are planning a new public education and marketing campaign to educate businesses and employees on the benefits of accessibility and hiring people with disabilities. This will help promote a culture shift that makes inclusion a standard and requisite part of doing business in Ontario. We also acknowledge the importance of statistical rigour in the measurement of practical impact, and will build upon our efforts at enhancing tracking and analysis of key metrics.

Moving forward, I will consider your recommendations at length and work across government to identify our best options to address each one.

Our government remains as committed as ever to building an accessible and inclusive Ontario by 2025 -- one where people of all abilities can explore their full economic and social potential. Thank you for partnering with us to promote employment for people with disabilities and doing your part to break down the barriers to inclusion wherever Ontarians work and live.

Sincerely,

Tracy MacCharles

Minister Responsible for Accessibility

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