People First of Canada Priority – Work and Employment
Real Work for Real Pay (Article 27, UNCRPD)
People First of Canada believes in real work for real pay. People with intellectual disabilities should have choice and opportunity to earn a living through paid employment in the labour market. Employers must be open to a diverse workforce. Job accommodations and supports need to be provided. Wages and benefits should be equal to those of persons without disabilities.
Employment and careers are a central part of life. Historically, people with intellectual disabilities have been placed in sheltered workshops and long-term make-work projects, on the assumption that people were thought to be unemployable. In these workshops, the work is often meaningless and the pay is merely a few dollars a day. Furthermore, people are congregated and segregated in these ‘work’ placements. People with intellectual disabilities have many talents and gifts that can be used within their communities, and are part of the untapped labour market.
Support to make informed choices about work and careers needs to be provided, and the resources to seek, obtain, and be successful in integrated community employment must be provided. People with intellectual disabilities have the right to the full benefits of employment beyond a pay cheque. There are social, personal, and community benefits that come from being in the regular workforce, not in sheltered ‘work environments.’