Employment: Accessibility Strategy for the Public Service of Canada

Improve recruitment, retention, and promotion of persons with disabilities

Where we are

Current state

Recruitment of Canadians with disabilities

During consultations on the proposed Accessible Canada Act:

  • 39% of survey respondents identified employment as the most important area in which to improve accessibility
  • 14% of respondents suggested that the government raise awareness and change attitudes in relation to accessibility by:
    • leading by example
    • having more persons with disabilities in government

Statistics Canada’s 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability found that 15.6% of the Canadian workforce (aged 25 to 64) is made of up by persons with a disability.Footnote 1

However, in the 2017 to 2018 fiscal year:

  • only 5.3% of public servants self-identified as a person with a disability
  • 2.9% identified as a person with a disability when applying for a positionFootnote 2

“One of my first goals has been: What can I do to make a difference to make sure I won’t ever be the only visibly disabled deputy minister in the public service in Canada? We have a way to go.” (translation)

Yazmine Laroche, Deputy Minister of Public Service Accessibility

Retention and promotion of public servants with disabilities

The 2018 Public Service Employee Survey indicated that employees with disabilities report having consistently higher levels of stress and lower levels of psychological well-being at work than their colleagues do. Employment Equity in the Public Service of Canada for Fiscal Year 2017 to 2018 noted that:

  • 3.6% of new hires (rate of hiring) identified as persons with disabilities, which is lower than workforce availability
  • 7.7% of employees with disabilities left the public service (rate of separation), which is higher than internal representation

In addition to retention, promotion of persons with disabilities is also lower for this group. Employees with disabilities represent only 4.1% of promotions (rate of promotion), which is lower than their representation within the public service.

Desired state

  • Job seekers with disabilities see the Government of Canada as an employer of choice.
  • Job seekers and public servants with disabilities have access to employment opportunities and can contribute at their full potential.

What we are doing

Through the Centralized Enabling Workplace Fund, develop a government-wide approach to address workplace adjustments

As part of the Government of Canada’s accessibility agenda, $10 million over five years (from the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year to the 2023 to 2024 fiscal year) has been allocated for the Centralized Enabling Workplace Fund.

The fund was created based on recommendations made by the Persons with Disabilities Chairs and Champions Committee. It will be managed by OPSA and will:

  • develop and implement an employee passport that:
    • documents needs
    • facilitates conversations with managers and corporate services
    • tracks actions
    • “travels” with employees when they change positions
  • research and assess best practices from public and private sector jurisdictions, and experiment with innovative approaches to workplace adjustment
  • create a centralized “library” of adaptive devices and services to provide quick access to assistive devices to new employees (student, casual and term employees)
  • implement training and tools to support culture change within the public service
  • implement other initiatives such as pilot projects to examine whether they have the potential to be applied government-wide

“I think that’s something that’s very important and that’s often brought up in discussions: to stop thinking that because the person cannot do things the way we usually do them does not mean that the work cannot be done. It’s about thinking differently about how a task can be done.”

Participant in Montréal town hall (January 2019)

Launch the Federal Internship Program for Canadians with disabilities

The Public Service Commission of Canada will introduce the Federal Internship Program for Canadians with Disabilities. The program will:

  • support the increased economic inclusion of persons with disabilities and a more diverse federal public service
  • target Canadians from ages 16 to 64 with disabilities that range from mild to severe
  • be supported by staff that includes human resources professionals and psychologists who will develop and implement strategies to support interns and hiring managers (assessment approaches, coaching and training)
  • engage associations and support an advisory group that will ensure that persons with disabilities are involved throughout

Hire 5,000 persons with disabilities by 2025

Each department and agency will meet a “stretch” hiring target based on their own context, staffing requirements and gaps to significantly increase their hiring of persons with disabilities and their departmental representation.

Given the wide range of positions to be staffed, a mix of broad inventories and targeted recruitment strategies will be used to staff positions across the country.

To support departments and agencies in achieving this goal, they will have access to government-wide recruitment programs, such as:

  • targeted post-secondary recruitment inventories
  • the Federal Internship Program for Canadians with Disabilities
  • the Employment Opportunity for Students with Disabilities
  • the inventory of employees with a priority entitlement who have become disabled

The Public Service Commission of Canada will continue to provide its expertise in assessment and accommodations, including:

  • establishing the role of Assessment Accessibility Ambassador in each department, with training and support, to:
    • improve expertise in assessment and accommodation across the public service
    • better position organizations to meet diversity objectives
  • developing guidance documents on staffing flexibilities available to hiring managers
  • organizing career fairs and promoting public service positions across the country through social media and other means
  • working with a number of associations that represent persons with disabilities to:
    • help identify gaps in recruitment
    • develop strategies to attract persons with disabilities to apply for positions in the public service
    • conduct pilot projects with organizations to explore innovative approaches to recruiting persons with disabilities, including placement services

Because recruitment efforts alone won’t ensure success, other efforts will include:

  • promoting a diverse and inclusive culture
  • equipping managers with tools and knowledge
  • creating conditions for success, such as effective onboarding, retention and career development of persons with disabilities
  • capturing and managing data to allow for ongoing measurement of progress and results

“I’m tired of being the only person with a physical disability in the scientific and technical environment I’ve worked in my entire career. I’m tired of being that one blind person.”

Participant in Persons with Disabilities Chairs and Champions Committee meeting (March 2019)

What each department and agency can do now

  • Review internal human resources policies and processes, in consultation with employees with disabilities, to identify how they could be more accessible and inclusive.
  • Examine adjustment processes to increase timeliness and quality of service, and move to a yes-by-default approach.
  • Develop resources to inform all employees of processes to receive adjustments.
  • Establish a hiring target and plan based on their own context, staffing requirements, and gaps to significantly increase their departmental representation in order for the public service to achieve a target of 7% representation of persons with disabilities.Footnote 3
  • Identify targets for recruitment and promotion of persons with disabilities.
  • Hold targeted recruitment processes to fill identified gaps.
  • Enhance departmental development programs to focus more on persons with disabilities.
  • Build accessibility considerations into departmental human resources plans.

Where we want to be

What we will do next

  • Review the representation of persons with disabilities within occupational groups to identify gaps.
  • Hold targeted recruitment processes to fill identified gaps.
  • Develop tools and training for supervisors to enable them to create inclusive teams.
  • Review existing development programs to ensure that persons with disabilities are properly represented and supported at each stage, from entry to exit.
  • Develop long-term employment targets for persons with disabilities that account for work potentialFootnote 4 as defined in the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability.

Where we expect to be in 2021

  • Through government-wide and departmental recruitment initiatives, the public service should be on course to meet its 2025 target of 7% of its employees identifying as a person with a disability.
  • Employees with disabilities should notice an improvement to the adjustments process and know:
    • whom to contact within their organization to discuss adjustments
    • what types of adjustments are available
    • the process to receive adjustments
    • the standard time for completion of adjustments
  • Promotion rates for persons with disabilities will be increased, and separation rates will be decreased.
  • Existing recruitment and development programs will have fully integrated accessibility.
  • Employees with disabilities will report greater satisfaction at work.
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