UTM professor David Pettinicchio is currently working on a study of the difficulties faced by Canadians with disabilities in securing employment. His work was recently featured in U of T Magazine. We have posted an excerpt below.
When Getting a Job Is Mission Impossible
By John Lorinc
When Kate Welsh, a 29-year-old artist and educator applies for a job, she faces more than the usual trepidation about whether there will be an interview and an offer of employment at the other end of an inherently competitive process. Welsh (MEd 2017) has a physical disability as well as a chronic illness that flares up from time to time, which means she always has to gauge when, in the process, she should disclose her conditions: in her cover letter or resumé, via a call prior to an interview or even just when she shows up for the meeting.
She also has to investigate whether the venue is genuinely accessible, or just cursorily so. “Arriving at a location that is not accessible is one of the worst things,” says Welsh. “There are so many steps before even getting in the door.”
The reality – borne out by surveys – is that many people with disabilities never get further than an interview. Ontarians with disabilities are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than the working age population as a whole, and tend to earn considerably less when they are hired, says David Pettinicchio, a professor of sociology at U of T Mississauga.
He cites a 2006 Statistics Canada survey that found one in four people with disabilities felt they were denied a job interview because of their conditions. In the U.S., the situation is even more dire.
The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act is considered to be a highly robust anti-discrimination law, yet only 40 per cent of all people with disabilities in the U.S. work, and their employment rate has actually fallen steadily since the law came into effect.
“The question,” Pettinicchio asks, “is why?”