In just three words, Bill Howson, President at Construction Fasteners and Tools Ltd (CFT) in Saskatoon quickly describes the positive impact of having an employee with an intellectual disability as part of his team – hardworking, positive and capable. As Howson describes Chris, a packager who has worked part time at CFT for more than six years, he does so with pride and excitement at how integral Chris has become to workplace morale and the company’s growth.
“He has made a remarkable impact on our culture,” says Howson, “He is always smiling and is by far one of our most loved employees.”
According to a Deloitte research report on inclusive hiring, people with intellectual disabilities are found to be loyal, stable, dependable and competent employees who can reliably perform routine work tasks especially in high-turnover, entry-level jobs. As businesses across the country struggle to meet labour shortages, Ready, Willing and Able (RWA) is working to increase the labour force participation of people with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“Chris is doing work that we were struggling to do ourselves,” says Howson, “He is as good, maybe even better than some of our other employees. He is rarely late and almost never calls in sick.”
As a passionate advocate for hiring individuals with an intellectual disabilities or ASD, Howson offers key advice to other employers.
“Don’t be nervous about whether or not they can do the job,” he says. “Find their areas of strength, know their capabilities and you will have an exemplary employee.”
Funded by the Government of Canada and active in 20 communities across the country, RWA is a national partnership of the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA) and their member organizations.