Efforts to help workers in federally regulated private sector industries return to work through the National Institute for Disability Management and Research (NIDMAR) got a boost last Thursday thanks to the federal government.
Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women Dr. K. Kellie Leitch was at Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health and Sciences to announce $125,000 in funding for a project that is designed improve return-to-work and disability management efforts.
“The focus is to focus on federally regulated private sector spaces to integrate individuals with disabilities back into economy,” Leitch said. The $125,000 will go towards a “multi-year project to develop an audit tool that will be used in federally regulated spaces to reintegrate Canadians that are injured in the workplace back into their workplaces,” she said.
“It’s a tremendous awareness opportunity,”PCU-WHS president and executive director of NIDMAR Wolfgang Zimmerman said.
“The employers in Canada that are under federal jurisdiction are the largest employers in the country. All of our banks, transportation companies, media companies... in that regard it has now reached from coast to coast to 300 employers.”
According to city economic development manager Pat Deakin, Port Alberni will also reap indirect benefits of the PCU-WHS funding.
“When companies are looking to settle in an area they look to see what’s available in the community for education. Here we have a new state of the art high school, a very attractive college and a niche university that is on the leading edge of return-to-work programs.”
Then there are the direct benefits of having a world renowned program and university in town, Deakin said.
“Obviously, attracting students to the community and giving students an opportunity to see the area and decide that they might want to stay here for longer than just the period of time that they’re getting their training.”
And where there are students, there’s a need for teachers.
“The university attracts a number of professionals on staff. These are individuals who are well paid, have a great education and they in turn influence their circle of friends and their network.”
The funding comes through the Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity (WORBE) program, a new program designed to support employers subject to the Employment Equity Act.
“The Employment Equity Act looks at integrating women, Aboriginal Canadians, individuals with disabilities as well as new Canadians into the economy,” Leitch said.