Differences in Inclusion: Canada vs. USA

Monday, July 23, 2012

This week, the United States will celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the legislated end of discrimination against people with disabilities. However, the celebration won't be without a few caveats. Over the past 20 years the employment status of people with disabilities has not improved and may in fact be worse than it was in 1990. Last week Democratic Senator Tom Harkin penned an op-ed in the Huffington Post highlighting this disability employment crisis and questioning if the USA is at a turning point in making gains in this area. 

Indeed, the disability employment numbers in the States are fairly staggering. For people with a disability, only about 1 in 5 have a job, only 37% are participating in the labour force, and there is an unemployment rate of roughly 13%. 

Compare these numbers to Canada, where the employment rate of people with disabilities is about 42%, almost 47% are participating in the labour force, and the unemployment rate of people with disabilities is around 9.8%. 

*It has to be said that both of these scenarios leave much room for improvement. A significant number of people in Canada (over 25% of people unemployed or not in the labour force) report being disadvantaged or discriminated against in employment. The proportion of men and women with disabilities and low income status is significantly higher than people without disabilities. Learn more in the Report on the Equality of People with Disabilities released by the Canadian Human Rights Commission last week.* 

So what are the reasons for the discrepancies in employment for people with disabilities between Canada and the USA? Is the Canadian government more focused on the issue? Are Canadians workplaces generally more inclusive? Are there differences in methodology and services for tackling the problem? Leave us your thoughts in the comments...


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