‘It’s not a huge price to really impact someone’s life’

Deputy Mayor Don Cody reads the City of Prince Albert's proclamation for Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) at the Community Service Centre on Oct. 2, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

City celebrates Disability Employment Awareness Month proclamation

The City of Prince Albert has joined the province in proclaiming October as Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM).

Deputy Mayor Don Cody read the proclamation at the Community Service Centre (CSC) on Wednesday afternoon.

Cody said when he owned a bakery in the city, he employed people with disabilities. These employees were just as capable as others with a few accommodations.

“I think it’s incumbent upon the business community and upon us in the city to ensure that those people have an opportunity to work because they’re very valuable,” he said.

“That’s the responsibility we have as human beings in our society, is (to) do what we can for others.”

Cody said it’s important business owners are aware of the difference they can make by hiring people of all abilities, and the proclamation is one way of doing just that.

Prince Albert Supported Employment (PASE)—which operates within the CSC—is launching a new mentorship program to help with networking.

Vocational Counsellor Robert Paul works with people to improve their resumes, cover letters, interviewing skills and both personal and job preparation.

In the mentorship program, Paul said staff will help people find an area they’re interested in for work.

Then, he’ll connect them with a member of the community who works in that industry to guide them.

“The mentorship is for educational purposes going both ways because it also means that the employer has the chance to work with someone with a disability,” he said. “It’s a win-win, getting to know people.”

He said he’s currently looking for people working in different industries who are interested in mentoring someone for a day.

“It’s not a huge price to really impact someone’s life,” said Paul.

Robert Paul, vocational counsellor for Prince Albert Supported Employment (PASE), speaks at the unveiling of the city’s Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) proclamation at the Community Service Centre (CSC) on Oct. 2, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Julianna Zapotoczny was at the proclamation unveiling. She said the CSC has helped her discover her interests.

“I like working with seniors. Every since my grandma passed away, I kind of learned that bond with older people,” said Zapotoczny.

Before taking that “big step,” she said she dealt with a lot of confusion not knowing what she wanted to do for employment.

Minister of Social Services Paul Merriman commented on DEAM in a provincial government news release: “When employers embrace the benefits of a diverse workforce and provide accommodations that are necessary for a person with a disability to do their job successfully, we all win.”

A Statistics Canada report released last year says the employment rate for working-age adults is 80 per cent for people without disabilities and 59 per cent for people with disabilities.

The report says 22 per cent of Canadians have at least one disability, which amounts to 6.2 million people.