Province investing in supports, programs aimed at helping people with disabilities return to work

Province investing in supports, programs aimed at helping people with disabilities return to work
Province of BC

The Province of BC has announced it is investing in supports aimed at supporting individuals who are dealing with a mental or physical health impairment to safely return to work.

The Province says it is providing the National Institute of Disability Management and Research (NIDMAR) with a $6 million grant to administer a return-to-work and disability management education program and supports project over the next four years.

“Every worker has the right to return home safely from work,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “As someone who has endured a serious workplace injury myself, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to return to the workplace. This funding will help more people successfully transition back into the workforce.”

The government says the project is being divided into three strategies to support B.C. employers’ capacity to accommodate injured workers to return to work, as well as increase the number of people with disabilities in the provincial workforce. These strategies include disability management program assessments, educational development and professionalization.

The disability management program assessment and improvement component offers workplace assessments while supporting employers in implementing recommendations to assist injured workers returning to work. It also offers practical tools and resources for employers along with a survey of 700 disability management professionals.

The educational development component will provide up to 500 individuals annually with return-to-work/disability-management program knowledge and practice.

The professional designation component provides full-time and part-time scholarships for a bachelor of disability management at the Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences. It also will offer supports to individuals with registration and examination fees for the disability management professional designation.

“We very much appreciate the support of the Province to enable us to provide employers in B.C. with education, professional certification and implement a return-to-work/disability-management program, so they can assist workers who acquire a mental or physical health impairment to maintain attachment to their workforce,” said Wolfgang Zimmermann, executive director, NIDMAR. “Over 80 per cent of impairments occur during a person’s work life, and after spending a year on disability support, less than 1 per cent will work again. Workplace efforts in early intervention and return-to-work play a key role in successful socio-economic outcomes for the injured/disabled worker.”

The government notes that the scholarships and educational modules are expected to begin accepting applications in early summer.

“This is a tremendous opportunity. Employers, in collaboration with their employees, can effect meaningful change through personal leadership and by introducing organizational policies and practices that focus on retaining valuable workers they might otherwise lose to the onset of mental or physical health impairment,” said Lance Blanco, senior vice-president of corporate development, Hardwoods Distribution Inc. “Everyone benefits when we build a culture of accommodation that recognizes the important contributions we can all make.”

According to the Province, more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 live with a disability and more than 158,000 new workplace injuries were reported in B.C. in 2019.


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