By Edina Markovitz, Manager – Supported Employment Services
Mark Wafer is an inspirational individual. As a passionate champion for inclusive employment hiring practices, and a member of the Government of Canada’s 2012 panel “Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities,” Mr. Wafer spends considerable time traveling and lecturing to educate and dispel the myths that hiring people with disabilities is difficult or problematic.
On April 16th, 2015, Atelier JEM Workshop Inc. together with Ometz and Federation CJA’s YAD leadership program had the pleasure of hosting Mr. Wafer at the Workshop for a tour of the facilities. During the tour, Mr. Wafer reported being impressed that the employees of Atelier JEM Workshop Inc. are paid, hourly workers who also benefit from on-site psychosocial support and cultural activities.
Mr. Wafer has personal and professional experience with employment and disability. Born with only 20% hearing Mr. Wafer was faced with his own challenges growing up. As the current owner of six Tim Horton’s franchises in Toronto, Mr. Wafer leads by example, ensuring that his restaurants utilize inclusive hiring practices. He has hired 112 people with all types of disabilities in the past 20 years from entry-level to logistics, production and management. He currently has 225 employees, 46 of whom have a disability.
During his visit, he shared much about the compelling “business case” of hiring people with disabilities, including increased company loyalty, reduced turnover and increased employee productivity.
The Government of Canada’s report “Rethinking DisAbility in the Private Sector” that Mr. Wafer was involved in, cited that there are approximately 795,000 disabled, working-aged Canadians who are not working but whose disability does not prevent them from doing so. As our population ages, and disability rates increase, we cannot afford to exclude this pool of working-age adults from the labour force.
The report states that one of the key factors for successful hiring strategy of people with disabilities is for employers to find the right community partners, especially organizations with a specialized service in employment for people with disabilities. Funded by Emploi Quebec, Ometz Supported Employment Services does just that.
To learn more about inclusive hiring practices and how it can impact positively your company, please contact Ometz Supported Employment Services at 514-342-0000 ext 3377 or visit www.ometz.ca