Sarnia Issues Challenge to Ontario Mayors to Employ People Who Have a Disability

Natalie Hamilton
Posted to site April 27, 2010

The mayor of Sarnia is hoping to "start a prairie fire" across the province when it comes to including people who have a disability as part of the workforce.

Mike Bradley has issued a dare to all Ontario mayors "to do the right thing" and hire people who have a disability, lending his support behind an initiative organized by Bob Vansickle, co-chairperson of the Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) and a Community Living Sarnia-Lambton employee.

"It's a simple philosophy in the community -- no one  wins unless everybody does," Bradley tells Community Living Leaders.

"Both the city and the employees win from this. You're giving people a chance to fulfil their potential. Secondly, it's a great benefit to the workforce."

The city has a long history of providing employment opportunities and creating an inclusive workforce.

"He has been a phenomenal advocate," Vansickle says about the mayor.

The ODEN co-chairperson  approached Bradley in January with the concept of the challenge. ODEN is a professional body of employment service providers united to increase employment opportunities for people who have a disability.With the work of ODEN including the sharing of best practices, Vansickle saw the opportunity to highlight the issue of hiring within the municipal sector and also what's working in Sarnia.

"We've partnered on a number of employment grants over the years. The city has also hired summer students who have various forms of disabilities over the past two summers."

Since issuing the challenge, the pair has received feedback from across the province, with about a dozen municipalities responding to date. At Bradley's suggestion, they will be issuing a report card in the coming months to illustrate where cities stand and serve as a tool for tracking responses and successes.

Sarnia's motto is People Serving People and including people who have a disability is now part of the city's fabric, Bradley says.

The mayor would like to see other municipalities step up to the plate and inclusionary workplaces become commonplace.

Reproduced from

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