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Funding available to help employers assess their workplace disability management programs

Front view of woman in wheelchair working at desk

Employers across Canada have the opportunity to have their current workplace Disability Management programs reviewed using an internationally accepted assessment tool free of charge.

The offer is compelling in light of the federal government’s launch in May this year of National Accessibility Week, which opened with the Canadian Congress on Disability Inclusion, and kicked off a series of programs and benefits to support Canadians with disabilities.

The BC provincial government also recently announced the AccessibleBC plan with the goal “to help shape a more accessible and inclusive future for everyone.” In conjunction with the plan, and the Accessible British Columbia Act established last year, more than 750 public sector organizations will have to have a plan in place at their organization to meet the requirement of a “barrier-free BC” starting in September 2022.

Workplace Disability Management Assessments are being offered free of charge to employers across Canada. The assessments, administered by NIDMAR under the auspices of the International Disability Management Standards Council, can help employers establish benchmarks, identify gaps in their existing programs, and create a plan for future improvements.

In British Columbia, as a second step after having completed the assessment, employers can apply for a subsidy of up to $7,500 to address the issues identified in the assessment.

Funding to cover the cost of assessments to Canadian workplaces outside of British Columbia is provided under the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.

Funding for the British Columbia initiative is made possible through a provincial Workforce Development Agreement grant.

Bill Dyer has held the Certified Disability Management Professional (CDMP) designation for a decade and, since 2015, has been a Certified Auditor conducting audits and assessments across the country.

Part of his job is educating employers about the advantages of these assessments. “Organizations are quite busy now due to COVID and other priorities, or it just might not be good timing for them.”

To solve the issue of timing, there are three types of assessment tools. The Consensus Based Disability Management Audit (CBDMA) which includes 180 evidence, consensus and survey questions and provides a 360 TQM detailed response. Dyer stresses, “For this type of audit, it’s recommended that you involve the union or employee representatives as well as representatives from Human Resources, Labour Relations or Occupational Health Management. You want to have all the key stakeholders involved and fully engaged because they then become ambassadors for the program.”

The Workplace Disability Management Assessment (WDMA) requires less time as it has 72 interview questions with the same 5-level hierarchy optional responses, and provides a clear snapshot of an organization’s approach to disability management.

And there is a Disability Management Self Assessment (DMSA) tool which is a third option for evaluating an organization’s program. This is strictly a self assessment and is comprised of 39 questions.

All three assessments offer a window into the 16 elements that research shows are indicative of an effective Disability Management program. Following the CBDMA or the WDMA, a report is provided to the organization that can be 30 pages or more depending on the scope of the assessment chosen.

Dyer notes, “The report must be direct, succinct, and to the point. Literally, here is how you’re doing against best practice, and here is how you can improve. The area that most organizations fall down in is that they do not have a consistent process. They don’t have the process spelled out, and they have no Disability Management committee in place.”

With the three types of assessments currently being offered at no charge to employers across Canada, Dyer doesn’t see a downside.

“Should they have a program in place, the assessments provide them with insights they can use to enhance their processes. They can see the potential for financial savings to the employee and to the employer, and it also goes a long way in creating an engaged workplace and potentially becoming an employer of choice.”

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