Grant supports culture of accommodation in the workplace

Released: Wednesday, April 28, 2021 8:00 AM

Individuals who are dealing with a mental or physical health impairment will be better supported to safely return to work, thanks to new funding for the National Institute of Disability Management and Research (NIDMAR).

The Province is providing NIDMAR with $6 million in a one-time grant to administer a return-to-work and disability management education program and support 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 project has 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:

  1. Disability management program assessments and improvements
  2. Educational development
  3. Professionalization

“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% of impairments occur during a person’s work life, and after spending a year on disability support, less than 1% 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 disability management program assessment and improvement component offers workplace assessments and supports employers in implementing recommendations to assist injured workers returning to work. It also offers practical tools and resources for employers, and a survey of 700 disability management professionals.

“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.”

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

“We are encouraged by this practical investment that will help injured workers to return to work,” said Sussanne Skidmore, secretary treasurer, BC Federation of Labour. “While there is much work to do to improve accessibility and supports for injured workers, employers will now have access to training and skills development to ensure they properly support their workers.”

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 and supports eligible individuals with registration and examination fees for the disability management professional designation.

“Ensuring that workers who become injured or disabled have the supports they need to be able to return to work is vital to a healthy and just workforce,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “This grant will go a long way to improve and expand B.C.’s disability management and return-to-work resources and provide workers and employers with more of the supports they need.”

The scholarships and educational modules are expected to begin accepting applications in early summer.

Quick Facts:

  • More than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 years live with a disability.
  • More than 158,000 new workplace injuries were reported in B.C. in 2019.
  • Worldwide, 6,500 people die every day from work-related diseases and an additional 374 million workers suffer non-fatal occupational accidents.
  • This grant is funded through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement (WDA).

Learn More:

Learn more about employment resources for people with disabilities:

Learn more about the Canada-British Columbia WDA:

National Institute of Disability Management and Research:

Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences: