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Publish Date: September 24, 2018

Celebrating Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is officially National Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM). It’s an opportunity to raise awareness of not only the barriers preventing people with disabilities from employment, but of the positive benefits that their successful employment can bring to society. It’s a celebration of why supporting people with disabilities gain meaningful employment is great for all of us! As the Government of Canada puts it A more active and inclusive Canada is good for business” (source 2).

Currently, in Canada, people with disabilities make up about 16.5% of the population (over the age of 15) (source 3). There are approximately 411,600 working-aged Canadians with disabilities who are not working but whose disability does not prevent them from doing so; almost half of these potential workers are post-secondary graduates (source 2).

A 2012 UK study revealed that “adults who participate in supported employment initiatives are less likely to live in poverty or be reliant on public services for financial support” (source 1). According to the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability, Canadians with disabilities were employed at a rate of 47 percent compared with 74 percent for Canadians without disabilities.  The survey also shows that there are more than 400,000 people with disabilities who have the potential and willingness to work but who are not employed. This evidence confirms that employers are not fully engaging Canadians with disabilities (source 2).

Supported Employment/Employment Inclusion services have excellent Social Return on Investment (SROI) for three reasons:

  1. Employment inclusion addresses poverty
  2. Employment supports typically transition to low cost ‘natural supports’ in the workplace
  3. Employment facilitates actual inclusion – not just services – for people with disabilities.

Research suggests that hiring adults with intellectual disabilities as supported employees generate positive economic outcomes for both employers and taxpayers.  It consistently demonstrates that the long-term costs of supported employment decrease over time, whereas sheltered employment or day programs tend to cost more (source 1).

Get Involved

If you want to get involved with or support Disability Employment Awareness Month in Alberta this October, there are plenty of exciting events across the province.

Provincial DEAM Proclamation – October 1

Come and join inclusive employers and service providers at the Legislative Grounds in Edmonton  (south bandshell on the SE corner of the legislative grounds). 11:30 – 1:30 pm.

DEAM City of Calgary Proclamation – October 2

The event is open to the public and will feature speeches from inclusive employers, employees with disabilities, City of Calgary representatives, and CEFN representatives. 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm at City Hall Atrium, 800 Macleod Trail SE.

Assistive Technology in the Workplace – October 4

This event will include a presentation and hands-on demonstrations of available assistive technology in the workplace.  Stay after the presentations for networking, light appetizers and a cash bar. Eventbrite Registration will be available September 16, 2018. 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm at cSpace King Edward Theatre, 1721 29 Ave SW.

Advocates for Advocacy – October 11

In partnership with Mount Royal University Institute for Community Prosperity. Advocates for Advocacy brings people with disabilities to the table to discuss employment as a person with a disability. The panelists will share their trials, myths and facts about Disability Employment. The event will host Question & Answer throughout the discussion; encouraging the audience to participate in the panel conversation and topics. Eventbrite registration link on the DEAM website. 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm at The Hub, Mount Royal University, Wyckham House, 4825 Mt Royal Gate SW.

DEAM Jobs for All: Employment Inclusion Seminar – October 17

In partnership with Bow Valley College, this event delivers relevant information to participants on how CEFN member agencies work with job seekers with disabilities to achieve their DEAM jobs and careers. Experts in inclusive employment provide the audience with details on: ‘A Day in the Life of a Human Services Professional’, techniques for both customer and employer engagement, and best practices in the field. This event also provides audience members a candid networking opportunity to discover the opportunities, challenges, and incredible rewards one receives when working in this dynamic and growing field. Eventbrite registration link on the DEAM website. 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm at Room N124 (North Campus), Bow Valley College, 354 6 Ave SE.

How Inclusion Works: CEFN and CPHR Panel Discussion – October 18

This after-work event will be held at one of Calgary’s fine new craft beverage and BBQ establishments, Prairie Dog Brewing. The event will be built around informal networking, and a facilitated, interactive Panel Discussion with inclusion experts, employers and employees with disabilities. The objective of a diverse workforce is to leverage different perspectives and problem-solving capabilities within our organizations. However, when diversity exists without inclusion, human capital is almost certain to underperform. Bring your colleagues and your questions; join us as we identify the practices that enhance inclusion at work. 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm, Prairie Dog Brewing Company.

DEAM Awards Gala – October 24

We strive for a community where diversity and inclusion are normal vs. noteworthy. Inclusive employment wouldn’t be possible without incredible employers who champion diversity. The gala celebrates DEAM Employer Award nominees and recognizes six employers for their inclusion and commitment to employing people with disabilities. 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm at the Jack Singer Concert Hall lobby, Arts Commons, 205 8 Avenue SE.


1 Social and Economic Outcomes of Supported Employment(Community Living BC, 2011)
2 Government of Canada highlights National Disability Employment Awareness Month (Employment and Social Development Canada, 2016)
3Council of Canadians with Disabilities-


Rethinking Disability in the Private Sector(Government of Canada, 2013)

The Road to Inclusion(Deloitte, 2010),-inclusion-and-employment-equity/The%20Road%20to%20Inclusion.pdf

Meaningful Training Programs for BC Welfare Recipients with Multiple Barriers (The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – BC, 2010)

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