80 per cent of Canadians Feel Employers Should Do More to Help Workers with Disabilities Enter the Labour Force: BMO Study

80 per cent of Canadians Feel Employers Should Do More to Help Workers with 
Disabilities Enter the Labour Force: BMO Study 
Canadians believe employers could save taxpayers money by hiring
persons with disabilities  
- Slightly more than half of workers with disabilities who are able
to work have jobs 
- More than half of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses have
never hired a person with a disability  
- 50 per cent of Canadians believe employers don't have the skills
required to understand and accommodate the needs of their employees
with disabilities 
- Meaningful change will come when private sector bias and
misperceptions are addressed 
TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 03/20/13 -- An overwhelming
number of Canadians (80 per cent) believe government and private
sector employers should do more to help workers with disabilities
enter the labour force, according to BMO's recent "Count Me In"
survey, which measured Canadians' attitudes about including people
with disabilities in the workforce.  
Canadians also believe that doing so would save taxpayers money
rather than cost them (45 per cent vs. 20 per cent). 
"Canadians get it," said Sonya Kunkel, Managing Director of Diversity
and Inclusion at BMO Financial Group. "Putting people to work is more
constructive, more productive and less costly, socially and fiscally,
than writing welfare cheques. We need to constantly repeat and
reinforce the benefits persons with disabilities bring to the
workforce and continue to encourage government and businesses to
address head on the barriers to fuller employment among this cohort.
This is particularly relevant today when small business owners tell
us the number-one challenge to future growth is finding and retaining
According to the BMO survey, 77 per cent of businesses that have
hired people with disabilities said these employees either met (62
per cent) or exceeded (15 per cent) their expectations. "This
certainly parallels our experience at BMO," said Ms. Kunkel. "We've
found employees with disabilities perform as well or better than
their peers. There really is no reason for so many people with
disabilities to be consistently excluded from the workforce." 
Despite this, only slightly more than half of persons with
disabilities who are able to work have jobs. 
"The biggest barrier to hiring people with disabilities is a hiring
bias among business owners based on misinformation, misperception,
and a lack of knowledge about how to hire, how to manage and how to
accommodate people with disabilities," said Ms. Kunkel.  
"At BMO, managers are trained to be inclusive leaders. Their training
includes how to communicate openly and directly, and how to make
appropriate accommodations so employees can perform to their full
potential," she said. 
There are also misperceptions about the cost of accommodations. Most
respondents to the "Count Me In" survey had no idea what the average
cost of an accommodation would be. Those who ventured a guess vastly
overestimated the cost at $10,000. In fact, 20 per cent of employees
with a disability require no accommodations at all, while the average
cost for individuals who do is only $500 - an affordable amount for
most businesses.  
Accommodations can include adjustable desks or chairs, assistive
devices and software, flexible work hours, telecommuting or simply
understanding the different ways in which team members learn new
information or skills.  
The survey was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights between August
24-30, 2012, using a sample of 1000 Canadians 18 and over. Results
carry a margin of error of +/-3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 
About BMO Financial Group  
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a
highly diversified North American financial services organization.
With total assets of $542 billion as at January 31, 2013, and more
than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of
retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and
Media Contacts:
Ralph Marranca, Toronto
(416) 867-3996
Ronald Monet, Montreal
(514) 877-1873
Laurie Grant, Vancouver
(604) 665-7596
Internet: www.bmo.com
Twitter: @BMOmedia
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