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Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work Project

March 9, 2011
Law Commission of Ontario
Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work Project

Dear Law Commission of Ontario:

My name is John Rae, and I am writing this submission on behalf of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, a national organization of rights holders who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted, who have come together to speak for ourselves on a wide range of public policy issues that affect the lives of members of our community.

While we are aware of the LCO's project that is focusing more directly on a variety of issues affecting the disabled community, we believe it is important for the LCO to give some attention to the employment barriers and issues facing persons with disabilities in this project, which is dealing particularly with employment.

Why do we believe disability related issues need to be included in this project?

The disabled community comprises a significant portion of Ontario’s population, about 15%, and we continue to face an unacceptably high level of unemployment, under employment and marginalization from the work force. As such, we are always in search of new allies, and reports that will include mention of our situation, and we would appreciate having the opportunity to participate in a one on one interview or a focus group so that we might outline some of our concerns in greater detail.

Attached is a background paper from the Council of Canadians With Disabilities, the disabled community’s national consumer voice, of which the AEBC is an active member.

The world of work has changed quite dramatically over the past two decades. Back then, it was suggested that emerging technology would be the “great equalizer” for persons with disabilities, including the blind community. So far, it has achieved that promise for some of us, but for others, new barriers now exist, including:

  1. Nowadays, it is assumed most workers will participate in several jobs during their working lifetime. On average, it takes longer for a person with a disability to obtain employment; thus, this barrier will have to be surmounted over and over again during one’s working life.
  2. Technology has made obsolete several jobs that blind workers often used to perform, e.g. telephone operators, receptionists and transcribers. Many of these jobs no longer exist in the numbers they once did.
  3. Changes in technology take place at a fast pace, and often, needed accessibility is not built in at the same time as new technology, thereby requiring ongoing catch up.
  4. Some software that is used in the workplace is not accessible to individuals using a screen reader to read and navigate their computer.
  5. Despite the work of numerous organizations and projects, attitudes towards workers with disabilities in general and to blind workers in particular remain very negative, and lead to our continued exclusion from the work force.

The AEBC has proposed that the Prime Minister of provincial Premiers call together business, labour and consumer organizations to try to forge a new and increased commitment to the hiring, retention and promotion of persons with disabilities. Clear, the reintroduction of Employment Equity or a similar initiative in Ontario with real government commitment behind it would help alleviate our chronic level of exclusion from the work force.

Again, as mentioned above, the AEBC believes it is important that issues facing workers with disabilities be included in the work and reports of this project, and we would be delighted to participate.

John Rae
1st Vice President
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians


  • This letter, #2172 was sent March 9, 2011 to Law Commission of Ontario: Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work Project

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