Nova Scotia Association for Community Living (NSACL) is a province-wide, not-for-profit association of people with intellectual disabilities, families, and others leading the way to build a just and inclusive society.

The Nova Scotia Association for Community Living (NSACL) is a provincial family based non-profit organization that works with and on behalf of individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families. We are dedicated to attaining full participation in community life, ending exclusion and discrimination on the basis of intellectual disability, promoting respect for diversity and advancing human rights to ensure equality for all Canadians.

NSACL works strategically with other disability rights organizations and, in particular, with People First Nova Scotia.

In the News:
Cost Can No Longer Be A Barrier... 
The Importance of 1-1 Support!
How Service Providers Should Help
Zero Project
RWA Success Story

By LAURIE MONSEBRAATEN The Star Social justice reporter
Thu., Feb. 9, 2017

Cost can no longer be a barrier to creating an accessible Canada, says Carla Qualtrough, federal minister of sport and persons with disabilities.

“Culturally, it still seems acceptable to say something like: ‘This would be really nice to do, Carla, but it’s going to cost too much money.’ And we need to change that,” said Qualtrough who is crafting the country’s first national accessibility legislation.

“I can’t think of any other marginalized population where that excuse still holds any weight,” she said in Toronto Thursday, where she wrapped up five months of cross-country consultations on the legislation. Online submissions continue until the end of February with legislation to be introduced by the end of the year or early 2018.

Qualtrough hopes the new law will spark a culture shift away from the “fallacy” that making the country fully accessible for more than 2.3 million Canadians with a disability would be financially ruinous.

“You can’t discriminate against people because it costs a bit of money,” the human rights lawyer told the Star. “It’s not okay to say: ‘I’d really like my building to be accessible, but it’s going to cost too much.’ You can’t say that. That’s the culture shift.”

“We need to be thinking about Canadians with disabilities not in terms of how much we cost or how much we need from the system,” added Qualtrough, who is blind. “Canadian society has to start to look at us as economic and civic and social participants. That’s what citizenship is.”

About 1,500 people have attended consultations in 18 communities, including 225 in Toronto on Wednesday. About 100 stakeholder groups have held their own consultations and more than 3,000 online submissions have been received.

Common concerns include the need for Ottawa to take a leadership role in accessibility and for the proposed federal law to have teeth. Qualtrough noted that federally-regulated businesses and industries, such as banks, telecommunications companies and airlines that would be covered by the legislation, are “curious” about enforcement.

Canadians with disabilities by the numbers

14% Percentage of Canadians aged 15 and older with a disability that limits their daily activities

411,600 People aged 15 to 64 not employed, whose disability does not prevent them from working

127,700 Unemployed people with disabilities who have post-secondary education

50% Percentage of Canadian human rights complaints related to disabilities between 2011 and 2015

6% Percentage of Canadian human rights complaints related to inaccessible services

2.1 million Number of Canadians 15 or older at risk of facing physical or communication barriers

*Source: Employment and Social Development Canada

Consultation participants want Ottawa and the provinces to work together on accessibility so that, for example, a federally-regulated bank and a provincially-regulated credit union next door don’t have different building code or customer service standards, she said.

Advocates have also called for an independent accessibility commissioner to set accessibility standards and enforce them.

Although she acknowledges the need for a common definition for disability to apply to all federal laws and regulations, the focus of the new legislation will be on “inclusion and breaking down barriers to inclusion . . . in the broadest sense,” she said.

Qualtrough doesn’t expect any push-back from her cabinet colleagues. However, she is concerned how MPs will react if businesses in their ridings balk at the legislation when it is introduced.

“I’m getting a lot of nodding of heads right now. But once people see the meat on these bones, they’re going to want more information,” she predicted.

Culture change will be key to the legislation’s success, she said. “If we don’t do this right we’ll have missed out on an historic opportunity. But at the same time, culture change is long-term.”


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Building a Pathway to Employment- The Importance of 1-1 Support!

The Pathway to Employment pilot project is an initiative of NSCAL to find jobs for 6 people with intellectual disabilities and many barriers. The project is funded by Ready, Willing & Able. The goal is to show that people (regardless of their barriers) can be successfully employed  when they are properly supported. This is an interview with Brittany, a job coach who is supporting one of the pilot participants who is working as a greeter at Subway.  

What are you learning about people with intellectual disabilities?                             
Brittany: Definitely that anyone can do as much as you and I. Everyone needs a little prompting and guidance and sometimes we need a little more. We all have barriers and can overcome them with support. At times she may need a little more time to process what is being asked to figure out what she is going to say or do. As we all know when we are given time to think and ask for help we can get the job done. She is an employee just like everyone else and is a big part of the team. She is held to the same expectations the employer holds other employees to.

How do you promote independence and confidence?
Brittany: I believe independence and confidence go hand in hand. I watch what she is able to do, listen to what she is interested in doing, and have confidence in her. I set her up to be successful by encouraging and helping problem solve what to do. Waiting and listening is important. I wait for her to process what she is going to do and say. I ask questions to allow her lead the work. Questions like, “What do you think you should do next?” I allow her to make decisions and choices.

How do you see yourself as a job coach?
 Brittany: My job is to be supportive. Ultimately I want her to be the one guiding herself, to make decisions and to learn from them. I am patient and this is important for a job coach. I have a positive attitude and am encouraging. If I am positive she is too. I am kind, a connector, and how I talk in a respectful way is huge. Using positive words, encouragement, not being judgmental and helps her take on new tasks that may not be so lovely.
How do you put parent’s minds at ease?                 
: Communication is key with the family and I talk with them about their ideas and input into what kinds of supports they feel their daughter needs. When there are changes we also work together to be sure they feel comfortable about what is coming next. I tell them they can reach out at any point and that they are important. Communication between me, the employee, her family, the employer, and the pilot team is very important. That means talking but also writing information done to explain steps along the way especially when we are starting something new like learning to take the bus.
Benefits of knowing about family background? How did that help you?                    
Brittany: It helped me to feel at ease when we began because I knew about the family. It allowed me to set her up for success from the start. I knew about possible barriers and challenges so could work with them before they arose. Family background information is necessary.
Final thoughts from Brittany                                Seeing her grow as an individual makes me want to continue doing this job. She has impacted my life in a big way and I know that I want to work with people with intellectual disabilities throughout my career. She has impacted my life as much as I have impacted hers.
For more information about community employment see the links below.

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The Bakers Dozen, my 13 key expectations of a service agency recruiting people with disabilities into my business.

-Mark Wafer
Jan 12, 2016
As private sector companies begin to realize that there are sound economic reasons to be fully inclusive of employees with disabilities in their workplace we see an increase in demand. In Canada there are approx. 447,000 recent grads from the past five years who have a disability and have never worked. Of those, 270,000 hold a post-secondary degree or diploma.  One would assume then that with this massive supply the demand would easily be met but one would be wrong. The unemployment rate and the participation rate for people with disabilities in meaningful and competitively paid jobs remains at the same level as a decade ago and indeed two decades ago. There are numerous reasons for this such as the attitude of private sector employers towards people with disabilities, the funding formula's around disability benefits and of course the approach taken by Canada's many service agencies who's recruiter's and job developers are tasked with finding jobs for the agencies clients. I have publish many articles about the former and will continue to do so as corporations slowly wake up to the potential contributions of this vast untapped talent pool.   There is no doubt that real inclusion is a competitive advantage, those companies who get it, win, those who don't will pay dearly. For this article however I want to focus on the supply side of the equation or rather, the supply chain. We don't have a supply problem, we have a supply chain problem.
I have significant expectations of community agencies who represent candidates who have disabilities. These expectations are written into my accessibility policy and unless an agency can demonstrate their ability and effectiveness to follow these 13 expectations we simply don't do business with them. This is no different to how we would treat any other vendor.  In the past however, social service agencies have often operated to a rather low common denominator, this affects outcomes and does little in terms of representing societies more vulnerable people. The focus from agencies has been one of two approaches, altruism or compliance, both are guaranteed to lead to failure. 
Here therefore is Wafer's baker's Dozen, my expectations of a social service agency.
1) Create business champions in your community and let them do the heavy lifting for you. You may fully understand the business case yourself but when speaking with a potential employer they are perhaps suspicious of your motives, they believe you will tell them what they need to hear in order to hire your client. Business champions are easy to find, they are employers who have hired successfully from you in the past. Acknowledge them, support them and reward them. Once you have developed this relationship ask the champion to go with you to a potential employer's office and watch the two business owners speak to each other in their own language and peer to peer. This is scalable. I as a small business owner have sat across the table speaking to the CEO of an auto manufacturer, we still speak the same language, and we have the same concerns and stresses, pressures and desires only on a different scale.
2) Have increased expectations of your client. I have hired 125 people with disabilities in meaningful and competitively paid jobs over the past twenty years. As a typical employer I thought i knew the capacity and capability of each employee as they came on board. I was wrong 125 times. Recruiter's therefore must be aware that workers with disabilities are likely to outperform expectations. Don't make excuses for what they might not be able to do.
3) View the business as your most important client. The individual who you represent will be well served if you can position yourself as a problem solver for local business owners. Act as a conduit for talent, the company will appreciate and respect you and your agency.
4) Encourage families and stakeholder groups to speak with children early in life about work. Regardless of the severity of the disability. Work must be an expectation rather than a wish or "hope for". We will concern ourselves later on solutions should work not be possible but too often the subject of work begins at about 17 years of age, this is far too late and places addition pressure on an employer as they deal with a lack of soft skills normally developed by holding part time jobs, summer jobs or even volunteering in the volunteer community.
5) The approach to business must be at all times the "business case". Know your facts and use them often. I have published articles on the business case but briefly it means once a company has built some capacity they will see increased overall employee morale, decreased absenteeism, greater safety records, greater innovation, lower sick time, less supervision, greatly reduced employee turnover and more. Not only should you memorize these facts but back these up with data and numbers, this is language business owners understand.    
6) Develop relationships with business before approaching them to hire your clients. Make an appointment to meet with them, understand their needs, understand what the business does, and show them what your agency does. Visit often and engage them, take coffee and especially Timbit's.
7) Apply for jobs where jobs exist. This is an important step because agencies have a habit of creating jobs. Job creation is pointless as it serves only to increase the payroll of a company even if the employee is good at their job. Almost all people with disabilities can and should fill jobs that are advertised. The sole exception to this is those with significant intellectual disabilities who may need a created job but even then it should be carved from other employee’s responsibilities rather than a pure creation. Employers do not see value in a worker who is an extra burden on the company’s payroll.
8) Avoid wage subsidies at all costs. These are very dangerous as employees are on boarded with a time limited subsidy. The employer does not value subsidized employees nor do operations managers who see an "us" and "them".  More important though is what can happen when the subsidy runs out especially if the worker has an intellectual disability. They often are kept on without pay in job training exercises with no parameters and no end date. Good employers in serious business do not want subsidies, they want good employees and they are willing to pay fairly.
9) Never take a client on a cold call. This is uncomfortable for the employer and for the client and can show a lack of professionalism.
10) Understand the wants and wishes of your client. Don't assume everyone with an intellectual disability wants to work at Tim Hortons.  Ensure that your intake procedures cover this area. A wrong fit is a guaranteed failure and all of us want to do jobs that we enjoy.
11) It is critical that your initial approach to a business be with the companies owner or if it is a corporation, the CEO. It is perfectly acceptable to have a day to day and ongoing relationship with company managers but the tone and intent of a company is set by the CEO. He or she must be aware that new employees might have a disability and must be supportive of this otherwise failure is guaranteed. One might ask me that approaching a CEO is an impossible task but one needs only to refer to item #1, your business champion.
12) Consider yourself and your agency as a major force in town. Do not as often happens downplay your significance in the community. Agencies often place business and business owners on a pedestal making an approach to them more daunting. There is no business in town more important than your agency.
13) Dress for success. Too often I am approached by a recruiter in the service sector who may be the 8th or 9th vendor to meet with me that day. All other suppliers who met with me wore business attire but when the recruiter arrives it’s often jeans, flip flops and a Grateful dead T shirt. To be taken seriously, dress seriously.
As demand increases let's ensure the supply is ready. Following these 13 steps will provide the outcomes we need and expect. 


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Zero Project highlights Canada’s Ready, Willing, and Able Initiative as an Innovative Policy 2017 on Employment

Canada’s Ready, Willing, and Able Initiative has been awarded as an Innovative Policy 2017 on Employment, Work and Vocational Education and Training by Zero Project.
Canada’s Ready, Willing, and Able Initiative will be highlighted at the Zero Project Conference 2017, which focuses this year on disability-inclusive Employment, Work, and Vocational Education and Training and is being held in Vienna at the UN on February 22-24th. The Zero Project Conference is attended by more 500 experts from more than 70 countries, discussing innovative solutions – Innovative Practices and Policies – that support employment, decent work and meaningful vocational education and training of persons with disabilities.
The Award for Canada’s Ready, Willing, and Able Initiative is based on a selection process organized by the Zero Project, based on the criteria of innovation, impact and scalability, which involved more than 1,000 experts with and without disabilities from all over the world. 56 Innovative Practices and 11 Innovative Policies were finally selected this year.
Canada’s Ready, Willing, and Able Initiative is also included in the Zero Project Report 2017, which can be downloaded at
The Zero Project
The Zero Project promotes the rights of persons with disabilities globally, according to the principles and Articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). It is a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions overcoming the barriers that persons with disabilities face, are being shared. Every year, the Zero Project concentrates on a theme: on inclusive education and ICTs (2016), on independent living and political participation (2015), on accessibility (2014) and on employment (2013). In 2017 the project will concentrate on employment, vocational training and education. As of today, more than 3,000 experts around the world have contributed to the initiative. The Zero Project was initiated by the Essl Foundation in 2010 and has been running in partnership with the World Future Council since 2011 and with the European Foundation Centre since 2013. More information at:

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For many businesses in the retail and service sector across the country, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find and keep hardworking and motivated employees. According to Tanya Peach, Store Manager at the Walmart East Supercenter, more than half of the 20 seasonal employees she hired at the start of the summer left before the season got into full swing.

“We have a lot of young people apply for jobs who don’t really want to work,” says Peach, “they either don’t show up for work or are always late. We invest a lot of time in training and orientation before they even hit the floor and that all gets lost when employees leave.”

Thanks to Ready, Willing and Able (RWA), a national initiative designed to increase the labour force participation of people with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Peach’s hiring process has achieved remarkable success. Through RWA, Peach hired three individuals at the same time as the others, and all of them have stayed.

Peach has been impressed and inspired by the people she hired through RWA, especially when she has to deal with a typical turnover rate of 15%. Furthermore, she has decided to keep at least one individual, Josh, as a permanent part-time employee beyond the season. As a sales associate in the Garden Centre, Josh is responsible for greeting and helping customers, keeping the Centre clean and safe and other general customer service duties.

“From a productivity point of view, Josh does an excellent job and because of his personality, dedication and reliability we wanted to keep him on our team,” says Peach. “He is very loyal and never misses a day of work.” Peach admits there was some apprehension about the extra time it might take to train and orient the new employees and concern that they might not be as productive or functional. RWA helped her and her team with the hiring process and addressed their concerns about special allowances and productivity.

“Right from the beginning, Josh was a go-getter,” says Peach. “We have not had to make any special allowances and he is always eager and keen to do a good job. It is refreshing to have employees that we are all very proud to work with.”


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Jean Coleman, Executive Director
Ready, Willing & Able
Connecting Communities
Family Support Cape Breton
Pathway To Employment Pilot
Family Support Annapolis Valley

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