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Should people with intellectual disabilities be removed from Ontario’s employment standards so they can work for sub-minimum wage? Regress or progress?

Note: 10 minutes from the original interview is not included (mainly introductory information. Entire interview available from the AMI website (podcasts).

With Ontario’s new Better Wages, Fair Workplaces Act (2017) aka Bill 148, sheltered workshops and other sub-minimum wage arrangements must come into compliance with the minimum wage requirements of this updated employment standards legislation.

In the past, wage discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities (such as people with Down syndrome and autism) was permitted through an archaic exemption.

Less than 10% of agencies delivering government-funded services (Developmental Services) are still involved with sub-minimum wage arrangements, and despite clear public announcements that sheltered workshops were ending back in 2015.

In the community of Renfrew, a group of family members has started a well-publicized campaign to remove people with intellectual disabilities from these employment standards.

Sadly, it is the government-funded agency (Community Living Renfrew County South) itself that is the “employer” of a handful of individuals being impacted by the minimum wage requirements, a situation that has caused tremendous confusion.

In this discussion on Accessible Media Inc (AMI) audio show “The Pulse” host Dave Brown takes on the issue with an in-depth discussion that covers both the moral and practical implications of minimum wage and people with disabilities.

LiveWorkPlay believes that people with intellectual disabilities must be fully included in all human rights legislation, and that the time, energy and resources going into keeping people out of the labour market through arrangements like those in Renfrew, should instead be focused on bringing them into the labour market, as LiveWorkPlay and hundreds of agencies across Ontario are already delivering.