Statement from Tracy MacCharles on the Final Report by the Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities
Today Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Accessibility, released the following statement:
"I would like to thank the Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities for their final report.
Our government recognizes that including more people with disabilities in Ontario's labour force will fill skills gaps, support economic growth, and strengthen communities across the province. That's why we established the Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities, bringing together 13 respected and creative business, accessibility and community leaders.
For two years, the council has worked diligently to explore various ways government can address high unemployment rates for people with disabilities. We are grateful for their service and commitment to building a more accessible Ontario that includes economic and social opportunities for everyone.
Like the council, we believe that increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities and building inclusive workplaces is a matter of fundamental importance to our society and our economy. Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Growth, has worked tirelessly to make inclusive employment a priority in Ontario's economy. I'd like to thank him for supporting the Partnership Council and helping to promote a culture shift that makes inclusion a fundamental part of doing business in the province.
Both Minister Duguid and I take the advice and eight recommendations of the council seriously. We are adopting a whole-of-government approach to identify the options available to address each one. 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.
We are pleased that many of the council's recommendations align with work our government has underway. Ontario's Provincial Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities, a key Budget 2016 commitment, was designed to respond to the council's initial report. This will help connect more people with disabilities to the labour market, while supporting employers and communities to become accessible. It will build upon our ongoing work to promote the hiring of people with disabilities as laid out in Ontario's Accessibility Action Plan.
Ontario will also continue to support communications opportunities to promote a culture shift towards accessibility in the workforce, including the development of a new public education and marketing campaign to educate businesses and employees on the benefits of accessibility and hiring people with disabilities.
Since the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005, our government has made good progress on our journey to build an accessible province that includes more people with disabilities in the labour force. Still, we know there's more to do. I am confident that the council's report will help us go further -- and move faster -- to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
I'd like to thank the council once again for their leadership and expert advice. I encourage all Ontarians to follow their lead and promote the benefits of employing people with disabilities wherever they work and live. Together, we'll build inclusive Ontario communities and forward-thinking, global businesses that profit from the strengths of everyone."