Employment First Webcast Series - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta

Employment First Webcast Series

The Employment First Webcast Series is an ongoing series to help Albertans understand the barriers, solutions and benefits to employing persons with disabilities.

Employers will continue to need access to skilled and unskilled labour to meet the needs of our economy. Alberta is working on labour force strategies that respond to market demands, and ensure we have the workers we need.

The reality is that people with disabilities have a wide range of skills and abilities that can contribute to our economy and create more diverse workplaces.

Statistics Canada recently released data from the Canadian Survey on Disability showing that in 2011, the employment rate of Canadians aged 25 to 64 with disabilities was 49%. For Canadians without a disability, the employment rate was 79%.

Visit Alberta’s Employment First Strategy for more information and email to sign up for updates or send feedback.

Previous topics:

Show Answer Employment First: Innovations in Employment

This webcast will explore the topic of Innovation, and touch on how companies can cultivate an environment that inspires staff to think differently.

It will also showcase some of the work Gateway is doing in this area and feature other organizations in, and around, Edmonton.

View the full video

Show Answer Employment First: North Central Employment First Innovation Fund Project: Our Approach to Customized Employment

In this webcast, presenters will be speaking about what Customized Employment is and how they are implementing Customized Employment in North Central Alberta. We will also hear from the Centre for Social Capital, and a person who has been positively impacted by the program.

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Show Answer Employment First: Return on Disability

In this pre-recorded talk, Rich Donovan makes the case that disability directly touches 53% of global consumers and taxpayers and transforms efforts of charity into the world’s largest emerging market.

He illustrates what the opportunity is, why it exists, and how our economic institutions can evolve to capture it and improve their bottom lines while improving the lives of billions of people globally.

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Show Answer Employment First: Working with Supports – a Panel Discussion

This panel discussion brings together a group of employers who have a proven track record in creating inclusive workplaces and working with support organizations to do so. They explore topics such as:

  • How service providers have been involved in their organizations in the past and throughout critical life stages of their employees
  • How these employers have integrated diversity and inclusive hiring practices into their organizations
  • What approaches or tools these employers have used to shift perception of their organizations toward becoming more inclusive

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Show Answer Employment First: Self-Employment and Micro-Business Opportunities

A discussion among people who have experienced the trials and successes of setting up and maintaining self-employment opportunities. This panel discussion touches on topics such as:

  • Practical tips for setting up self-employment
  • Things to consider if you are thinking of self-employment
  • Successes and failures
  • Insights from every stage (pre-start up, start up, and maintenance) of a self-employment venture

Speakers: This panel is comprised mainly of family members of persons with disabilities who have developed self-employment opportunities for their family members.

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Show Answer Employment First: Youth Employment – Part 2

This is an introduction and update to several youth employment projects that are underway through various agencies in Alberta, and includes:

  • An update on the Youth Employment Partnership project from Inclusion Alberta (AACL)
  • An update on the Worktopia project that was launched February of 2015
  • An introduction to the Youth in Care Project from Gateway Association
  • Information on some of the programs and supports offered by CAREERS: The Next Generation to aid in employment of youth with disabilities

Speakers: Wendy McDonald, Tanya McLeod, Renate Burwash & Carmen Wyton

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Show Answer Employment First: Panel Discussion – Starting a New Job and Advancing Your Career– February 17, 2016

This panel discussion addresses questions and issues that persons with disabilities may face when starting a new job, maintaining a job and advancing their careers. It includes insights from panelists representing employers, as well as persons with disabilities who have experience in the workforce in Alberta.

Speakers: The panel includes a mix of panelists representing employers who have experience hiring persons with disabilities and persons with disabilities who have experience working in Alberta.

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Show Answer Employment First: Panel Discussion – Finding and Interviewing for a Job – January 20, 2016

This is a panel discussion on topics related to searching, applying and interviewing for a job. The discussion goes into some popular questions and issues that persons with disabilities may face when trying to obtain employment. It includes insights from panelists representing employers, as well as persons with disabilities who have experience looking for work in Alberta.

Speakers: The panel consists of a mix of panelists representing employers who have experience hiring persons with disabilities and persons with disabilities who have experience seeking (and obtaining) employment in Alberta.

View the full video

Show Answer Employment First: Increasing employment among youth with disabilities – May 6, 2015

Research has demonstrated that the more paid and volunteer work youth do, the more likely they are to be successfully employed as adults. However, youth with disabilities face more barriers to participating in work and volunteer opportunities than their classmates.

Find out how three organizations are working to increase employment outcomes for youth with disabilities.


Inclusion Alberta (formerly Alberta Association for Community Living):

  • Wendy MacDonald is an accomplished trainer and adult educator with over 25 years of experience in staff training and leadership development. She is currently the Development Director for Inclusion Alberta.
  • Trish Bowman is the Executive Director of Community Development for Inclusion Alberta. For 25 years, she has worked towards full inclusion for students with developmental disabilities in post-secondary education programs and has helped develop career paths.

The Sinneave Family Foundation:

  • Tom Collinsis the first president of the Sinneave Family Foundation and brings almost 40 years of experience in senior level positions in both the private and public sector to the Foundation.

MacEwan University:

  • Huong Bui is MacEwan University's Career Services Manager. As a Certified Career Development Professional, Huong enjoys mentoring and watching the professional and personal growth of not only the students she works with, but also her team.
  • Abigail Parrish-Craig is a Registered Psychologist (Alberta) and leads the multi-disciplinary Services to Students with Disabilities team at MacEwan University. With more than 20 years of experience in the field, Abigail continues to be motivated to facilitate accessibility in all aspects of the learning environment for students with disabilities.

View the full video (58:12)

Wendy McDonald on the Importance of Employment Experience for Youth (3:53)

Abigail Parrish-Craig on Disability Services at MacEwan University (3:56)

Tom Collins on Pre-employment Training for Youth with Disabilities (3:49)

Huong Bui on Supporting Students with Disabilities to Transition from Education to Employment (2:25)

Show Answer Employment First: Inclusive Employment – Successes and Learnings – April 1, 2015

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become an inclusive employer? Here, award-winning employers share how they created inclusive workplaces that welcome persons with disabilities.


Dean Holloway is the Regional Vice President with BMO Financial Group in Edmonton. BMO was the 2015 winner of the Alberta Business Awards of Distinction's Employer of Persons with Disabilities Award of Distinction.

Gord Lodge is the franchise owner of Gord's No Frills in Wetaskiwin, which was the 2014 winner of the Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities' Award of Excellence in Employment.

View the full video (44:17)

Dean Holloway on Inclusive Employment (4:04)

Gord Lodge on Inclusive Employment (3:32)

Show Answer Employment First: To disclose or not to disclose? – March 4, 2015

Should you tell your employer about your disability? Who should you tell? How much should you tell? For individuals with disabilities, disclosing a disability to an employer can be a difficult decision. It takes thought and planning.

In this video, our panel shares their experiences, discusses current research on disclosing disabilities at work, and presents a series of questions that can help you decide whether to disclose or not.

View the full video (1:04:24)

Disclosing a Disability: Finding the Right Culture to Disclose (4:46)

Disclosing a Disability: What to consider (4:43)

Disclosing a Disability: Drafting a Disclosure Plan (2:26)

Disclosing a Disability: Research on Disclosure in the Workplace (4:15)

Show Answer Employment First: Self-employment – is it right for you? – February 4, 2015

In this session, we explore self-employment for persons with disabilities. Our speakers discuss the opportunities and challenges that exist in starting and sustaining your own business.


Self-employed management consultant, Bill Brandon, shares advice gained from his 40+ years working for both himself and traditional employers. What does it take to be self-employed? To develop a business plan? Are there unique challenges for individuals with a disability? He discusses these and more.

Deborah Barrett, co-partner of Anthony at Your Service, shares learnings from two-and-a-half years in the delivery business with her son, Anthony. She discusses findings from her recent feasibility study. What does it take to start and manage a business based on your child’s strengths? What are the unique challenges and benefits of starting a business for an adult child with a disability?

View the full video (1:00:35)

Self-employment and disability (3:31)

Creating/supporting self-employment for someone with a disability (8:43)

Show Answer Employment First: Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities – an enhanced mandate – January 7, 2015

Twenty-five years ago, Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion Tour” inspired the creation of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities. The Council engages with community on issues pertaining to persons with disabilities. They also advise government on ways to make Alberta’s policy and programs more inclusive and accessible. In this webcast, three Council members will discuss the Council’s expanded mandate, the recent impact on Alberta’s legislation (including employment) and answer your questions.

View the full video (1:02:05)

Disability in Alberta: What does the Premier’s Council do? (6:48)

The Creation of the Council: Memories of Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion Tour (5:56)

Disability in Alberta: A new mandate for the Premier’s Council (5:40)

Show Answer Employment First: Mental illness in the workplace – December 3, 2014

While there are many barriers to employment for persons with disabilities, those individuals with mental illness may face additional obstacles.

Katherine Hay, Occupational Therapist with Alberta Health Services, discusses the prevalence and impact of mental illness in the workplace. She talks about how employers can implement successful accommodations for employees with mental illness.


Katherine Hay, Occupational Therapist, Alberta Health Services

Gisela Kwok, Director, Provincial Disability Supports Initiatives Branch, Disability Services Division, Alberta Human Services brings introductions and wraps up the session.

View the full video (1:00:32)

Employment as a treatment option for individuals with mental illness (3:27)

Maintaining Employment: Successful strategies for individuals with mental illness (2:19)

Accommodations at Work: What employers can do for employees with mental illness (3:29)

Show Answer Employment First: Collaborative partnerships – March 19, 2014

Everybody knows that collaborative partnerships can make projects more resourced, stable and successful. However, establishing and sustaining them is not simple.

This webcast features the partners of Abilities@Work: City of Edmonton HR, Alberta Association for Community Living, Chrysalis Society, Excel Society, and Gateway Association as they discuss their process for building, sustaining and maintaining a successful partnership. The collaboration has led to many people with intellectual disabilities finding meaningful employment with the City of Edmonton.

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Show Answer Employment First: Accommodations in the workplace – February 19, 2014

We’ve all required some kind of accommodation at work — be it flexible scheduling or ergonomic technologies — to enhance our everyday work life and advance in our careers. For people with disabilities, the barriers to a meaningful work are amplified and require more deliberate, collaborative accommodations so that both the employee and employer benefit from creating fulfilling, productive workplaces. This is the fourth in a monthly series of Training Webcasts for Employment of Persons with Disabilities, part of Alberta’s Employment First Strategy.


Bryce Clarke, an Acting Detective with the Edmonton Police Service, who will share his personal experience requiring accommodations from his employer to continue working in the force as a quadriplegic after sustaining a spinal cord injury

Rita Novak, HR Manager with Camex Equipment, will bring the employer’s perspective, offering examples of how small accommodations have helped her staff with learning disabilities advance in the company

Sandra Mazur with the province’s Disability Related Employment Supports (DRES) team will discuss the range of workplace accommodations possible and resources available to individuals with disabilities.

Gisela Kwok, Director, Provincial Disability Supports Initiatives Branch, Disability Services Division, Alberta Human Services brings introductions and wraps up the session.

View the video

Show Answer Employment First: What do you want to be when you grow up? – January 21, 2014

We’ve all been asked this question since our childhood: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Whether we knew it or not, small cues like that have put us on a career pathway from infancy. But for children with disabilities – who are often segregated or removed from environments where children naturally explore their career aspirations – we need more deliberate planning so they can be what they want to be. This session explores the Life Cycle approach, which outlines why it’s important to articulate a vision for a child’s career early on, and how to put that vision into action.


Bruce Uditsky is CEO, Alberta Association for Community Living (AACL) and Adjunct Professor, Community Rehabilitation & Disability Studies, Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary.

Michelle Champagne-Berry is a Program and Policy Advisor, Family Support for Children with Disabilities Branch, Alberta Human Services. She is an advocate of the Life Course approach and will explain why it is beneficial for families and community workers.

Kelly Baldock is the President of Alberta Society for the Visually Impaired, and sits on a consumer advocacy group for CNIB. She regularly meets with government and stakeholders to advise and develop position papers on accessibility for those with visual impairment. She has a daughter with a visual impairment who is entering the world of post-secondary education.

Gisela Kwok, Director, Provincial Disability Supports Initiatives Branch, Disability Services Division, Alberta Human Services brings introductions and wraps up the session.

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Show Answer Employment First: Busting myths – December 17, 2013

Hiring persons with disabilities has often been impaired by myths related to the challenges and expenses of employing such people. This session seeks to bust these myths and present the true value persons with disabilities can bring to the workplace.


Bev Matthiessen, Executive Director, Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD)

Dave Murphy, Managing Partner, Tony Roma’s Restaurants

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Show Answer Employment First: Building a culture of Employment First - October 15, 2013

This webcast features lessons learned by Washington State in introducing a policy and culture of Employment First.


Cesilee Coulson, Executive Director at the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment (WISE) on October 15, 2013.

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Modified: 2017-03-09
PID: 17706