You are here:

Disabled Males Favoured

Editor's Note: This article is taken from the Times Colonist (Victoria), May 25, 2004.

Ottawa--Workers with disabilities are more likely to find their way to the top of the rung of the income ladder if they are male and members of a union, according to a study being released today.

The study, done by the Canadian Council on Social Development, says 41 percent of male workers with disabilities who are covered by collective agreements earn salaries in the top quarter of the earnings range.

Unionized women do not fare as well, with only about 18 percent earning salaries in the top quarter.

"Certainly, unionization appears to pull them (disabled women) out of the really low level of earnings, but few of them make it to the upper income brackets," says Gail Fawcett, senior council researcher and author of the study.

"And non-unionized workers with disabilities of both genders still lag behind their counterparts without disabilities, with women being particularly disadvantaged."

The study says that among the estimated 3.6 million Canadians with some form of physical or mental disability, the majority earn wages below the median.

The latest federal budget offered modest new tax breaks and tuition grants for disabled Canadians.

Social Development Minister, Liza Frulla, also has asked groups advocating on behalf of the disabled to come up with a 10-year agenda for narrowing the education, employment and health care gap between disabled Canadians and their non-disabled counterparts.

Fawcett says action is needed.

"A few ramps aren't going to do the trick," the report says.

"Helping people get their high school and post-secondary education is crucial because education has a great impact on the salaries of persons with disabilities."

Fawcett also endorsed a recent recommendation by the federal Pay Equity Task Force that any new federal pay equity legislation apply to persons with disabilities.

Reprinted with permission of the Ottawa Citizen.