With B.C. declaring September as Disability Employment Month, WorkBC Merritt has organized the ‘Celebrating Abilities’ event on Wednesday, September 21. The event aims to promote inclusivity of people with disabilities in the workforce. 

The Herald spoke with WorkBC Program Manager Deborah Petrovitch to learn more about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. 

“Most people in Canada that have disabilities have a post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree,” she said. “If you are an employer that wants to hire inclusively, your company’s worksafe premiums will not increase.” 

Petrovitch also noted that special equipment is not required by all disabled employees. For those who do need support, WorkBC is there acting as a resource to provide needs such as an ergonomic work station. 

“Research has shown that among employers with disabilities, the staff retention rate was 72% higher than workplaces without disabled employees. We’ve got a really dedicated group that when given a chance has better attendance average and better or equal performance to their co-workers without disabilities because they’re very focused in succeeding.” 

People are invited to attend the event to learn more about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. Petrovitch said that the event will be in a “open house format,” with WorkBC staff available and ready to provide information on the matter. 

“We like to call it ‘diversability’ because that changes its perception,” she explained. “People’s abilities are all varied and all of those abilities are valued.”

Celebrating Abilities will also have free lunch, and will hear words from both MLA Jackie Tegart and City of Merritt Councillor Travis Fehr. Awards will also be handed out to the following inclusively hiring employers: 

  • High Mountain Ventures
  • Nicola Meadows Retirement Home 
  • Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association
  • The Grand Pub and Grill
  • Dennys
  • McDonalds 
  • The Family Place Daycare

“Right now in this tight labour market, where employers are having a hard time hiring a staff, if they can open their eyes to all those benefits that people with disabilities can provide as an employee, it can really help their bottom line.”

Celebrating Abilities will take place at the parking lot of WorkBC on September 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. WorkBC Merritt is located in 2099 Quilchena Avenue. For more information about their resources and services please call (250) 378-5151.