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LiveWorkPlay: Summertime News!

SUMMER IS OUR BUSY SEASON!

While it might be a regular pattern for some government, private, and non-profit organizations to slow down during the summer season, it’s arguably the busiest time of year at LiveWorkPlay!

Here’s some of what is happening:

  • we’ve hired four summer students who are completing training and will be helping with employment, community connecting, and internal operations
  • planning is underway for our 2017 Annual General Meeting on September 8, the board of directors and staff leadership team has worked hard on a strategic review and will be discussing the results
  • volunteer recruitment and orientation is ongoing, this is festival season and a lot of our members are looking to share their interests with others
  • BNI (Business Network International) annual charity golf tournament for LiveWorkPlay on June 14 at Metcalfe Golf & Country Club
  • we are underway as an ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) Employment Supports provider so it’s the summer of jobs jobs jobs
  • annual review meetings are also underway: we will be getting together with about 100 of our members over the summer – these are required meetings for anyone receiving support from LiveWorkPlay, but it’s also a great opportunity to talk about what has worked and what can be better for the coming year
  • motor coach trip with Ottawa Valley Tours to Prince Edward Island, LiveWorkPlay is supporting 9 of our members on this travel opportunity

SPOTLIGHT ON EMPLOYMENT NEWS

It’s been a busy May and June with employment-related news. There have been many LiveWorkPlay developments concurrent with important announcements and events across the province.

The Employment Task Force met for the last time until September but not before putting in motion several new job leads that will be developed throughout the summer. It was also a great opportunity for new Job Connector Joshua Gray to get a rapid orientation.

The Hire for Talent national awareness campaign made a long stop in Ottawa that included interviewing three LiveWorkPlay partner employers and employees with intellectual disabilities. This includes Melissa Cunningham (pictured) at The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro, Stephen Mullins at The Canadian Wildlife Federation, and Laura Durham at Pita Pit.

Soon after Service Coordinator Allison Moores and Co-Leader Keenan Wellar returned from the Ministry of Community and Social Services regional engagement session in Kingston (where employment outcomes were a hot topic) Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Accessibility, along with Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, and Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services, announced a new Employment Strategy. The announcement has a very positive tone that aligns well with LiveWorkPlay values, but some vigilance is required. The move to a “one stop shop” approach to employment services (which sounds conceptually attractive) can potentially position people with intellectual disabilities as a forgotten population.

ODSP Employment Supports Team Lead Anna Nelson and Manager of Employer Partnerships Jen Soucy were attending the Canadian Association of Supported Employment (CASE) annual conference when Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn announced proposed legislation that would eliminate sheltered workshops in our province. The sheltered workshop exemption allows workers with intellectual disabilities to be employed at less than minimum wage. LiveWorkPlay has been an outspoken critic on this issue, and so this is certainly a welcome announcement, but at the same time we must watch closely to ensure that these segregated low-paying workplaces are not simply re-branded as day programs or social enterprises.

Most recently, Jen joined ESDC employee Heather McAdam and Director Sylvain Beauchamp to talk about the work that LiveWorkPlay has done with federal departments and agencies. The discussion was hosted as part of the Employment Accessibility Resource Network (EARN) annual conference in Ottawa. Employment and Social Development Canada is a leader in promoting workplace diversity, and there was a very positive response to the presentation, including inquiries from City of Ottawa representatives who want to support similar success in the municipal workforce.

FEATURE IN PLENTY MAGAZINE

Keenan responded to a series of interview questions for what became a Plenty magazine article “Potential can be Exponential: A Lifetime of Activism.” The article traces the origins of his activist roots from a childhood with parents who were highly engaged with their local community to an awakening to the cause of social inclusion in young adulthood. The piece encourages emerging young leaders to consider the non-profit sector:

I do hope to see many of our best and brightest young workers choosing to make their mark in the evolving non-profit sector. At a time when one can “start a cause” with the push of a few buttons, it’s important to understand that those who are able to make a meaningful long term impact will be those who are engaged in an authentic social change process. They will challenge not only the conditions in their community, but will constantly examine their own role in that process.

PROVINCIAL PROJECTS: LEARNING AND LEADERSHIP

LiveWorkPlay is participating in a new Employment and Modernization Fund project Transformation to Person-Centred Practices. The funds are being coordinated by Citizen Advocacy on behalf of the Ottawa Developmental Services Network, of which LiveWorkPlay is a member. Although LiveWorkPlay transitioned to person-centred practices more than a decade ago, the project is designed to benefit organizations at all stages of their journey. One of the important outcomes will be the training of staff representatives who will become trainers in their own right, which means the project impact will spread exponentially to others in the field.

Funded as an MCSS policy initiative, LiveWorkPlay will also continue as a founding member and partner in the From Presence To Citizenship Project, now entering its third year. The LiveWorkPlay tasks for this year include developing training sessions to take place across the province, as well as a film festival and a conference. This project is about the pursuit of excellence in Developmental Services – how to move away from practices that do not deliver community-based results, and how to support great community outcomes in housing, employment, citizenship, and relationships.

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