Carol Ann Cameron, Employment Client Coordinator (ECC) with the March of Dimes Canada (MODC), believes it’s important to communicate the message that MODC employment services are there to help both employers and jobseekers.
1. Tell us about your organization.
- At its Ottawa location March of Dimes Canada Employment Services helps people with disabilities find competitive employment by developing relationships with employers and providing individual supports to ensure that each hire is the right fit for both jobseeker and employer
- There are no volunteer placements
- Other services and programs offered in Ottawa: MCCSS Passport program with funding for community activities for those who are not able or choose not to be employed, Canadian Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation Services to assist veterans achieve employment and WSIB
- Formerly known as Ontario March of Dimes, in 2013 became March of Dimes Canada in recognition of expansion not only in Ontario but in locations across Canada (BC, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec & Nova Scotia)
- History: Founded in 1951, Ontario March of Dimes (OMOD) was formed by mothers who joined a North American fundraising campaign to find a cure for polio. With the discovery of a vaccine, focus moved to rehabilitation and job training for those with the disease. While OMOD initially served those with polio and other physical disabilities, services have since expanded to include all types of disabilities and multiple / complex disabilities
- FYI: March of Dimes in the U.S. focuses on maternal and infant care
2. What types of job seekers with disabilities do you help find employment?
- Anyone who has a diagnosis of one or more disabilities
- Note: There are still some references to ‘physical’ disabilities online and in their communications; however, MODC provides services to people with all types of disabilities. Materials are now in the process of being updated
3. What services and supports can you provide to assist employers once they have hired someone with a disability?
- Services begin prior to recruitment: the ECC starts the process by meeting with the employer (usually ½ hour) to determine what skills are required for the job and then moves to providing prescreened candidates who have the skills to do the job
- View traditional job postings as a wish list; the ECC’s goal is to find out what competencies the employer actually needs for each position
- Services to employers are free of charge
- Provide on the job coaching, support and follow-up calls for as long as required to ensure the employee is confident to do the job and for retention purposes
- Approach is on keeping the lines of communication open to proactively address on the job issues as they occur
- Supports vary depending on the nature of the job, the employee and the employer. If the employer has a good support system in place, then MOD will withdraw
- Accommodations: open to having these conversations up front with the employer, emphasis on most accommodations not being costly such as flexible hours or pieces of equipment like an anti-stress mat
- For those jobseekers who are eligible to receive it, have access to the employment start-up benefit from ODSP to cover expenses such as clothing, shoes, a bus pass
4. What are the top 3 misconceptions employers have about hiring persons with disabilities?
- That most people with disabilities use a wheelchair, and therefore, if their premises are not physically accessible they cannot hire any persons with disabilities
- That people with disabilities don’t’ have education, ability or skills to succeed in the workplace
- That people with disabilities are not reliable or dependable
5. Supplementary to #4: What approaches can be used to address these misconceptions?
- Proactively ask the employer about their concerns; 90% of the time an open discussion allays employer fears and talking it through provides results
- Return to those employers where a relationship of trust has been created and misconceptions have been addressed
- Occasionally a job shadow can be arranged; this is not a preferred tactic – the goal is to provide prescreened candidates to the employer
6. Is there one last thing you’d like to add that we didn’t cover?
- It is important to know that the March of Dimes Canada is there to help both jobseekers and employers
- Many employers come back to MODC with more recruitment opportunities; many employers have hired several of their jobseeker clients
- Established relationships with employers are valued; reaching out to new contacts is essential also for employment counsellors to expand their network and operate out of their comfort zone
We extend many thanks to Carol Ann Cameron, Employment Client Coordinator from March of Dimes Canada, for giving of her time to do this interview.
To find out more about March of Dimes Canada in Ottawa visit: https://www.marchofdimes.ca/EN/Pages/default.aspx
To learn more about how to dispel myths and misconceptions about the talents of people with disabilities visit: