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Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada Receives Public Sector Inclusive Employer Award at LiveWorkPlay Make a Buzz Ottawa, May 10, 2024

On the occasion of the LiveWorkPlay 29th Anniversary and the annual Make A Buzz Ottawa Celebration of Community, the Inclusive Employer Award for the Public Sector was awarded to Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada on May 10, 2024 at the Preston Event Centre. Below is the live captioned video from the event, a selection of photos, and a full unofficial transcript. Congratulations ISED! Traduction française à venir.

ISED Award Recipients
Brodie Cox (ISED), Fred Dixon (ISED), Joëlle Perrier-Olsen (LiveWorkPlay), Stephane Pilon (ISED), Phoebe Newhook (ISED), Dennis Caravoulias (ISED), Mary Gusella (Volunteer Chair, FESG), Anna Nelson (LiveWorkPlay)
Mary Gusella, Dennis Caravoulias, and the audience of 200
Mary Gusella, Dennis Caravoulias, and the audience of 200

Anna Nelson, Director of LiveWorkPlay Employment Supports

The Inclusive Employer award for the public sector goes to a government department or agency that not only hires one or more persons, but also promotes the hiring of workers with intellectual disabilities or autism to public sector peers and external audiences. 

In the past this award has gone to Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the Public Service Commission of Canada, and last year, to Finance Canada. 

Last year I reminded our audience that the Ontario provincial government and the Ottawa municipal government are also eligible for this award, and while this hasn’t yet motivated them to hire, representatives from Levy TD Place were in attendance last year, and they took the message to heart. We found out earlier how much they have accomplished in just one year, and that’s what tonight is all about, we want to celebrate, but we also seek to inspire. 

Here to introduce this year’s recipient, once again from the federal government of Canada, is the volunteer chair of the LiveWorkPlay Federal Employment Strategy Group, Mary Gusella. 

Mary Gusella, Volunteer Chair, LiveWorkPlay Federal Employment Strategy Group (FESG)

Thank you Anna I look forward to this every year. We’ve got another very deserving recipient in 2024. 

As early adopters, this federal department hired three people through the LiveWorkPlay Employment Supports Model back in 2016, and the momentum has continued from there. 

For those first few years and those initial hires, we were still developing our Employment Supports Model, and many of the positions were short term project-based contracts. Over time the model and the relationship have evolved, and we are going to let this year’s recipient tell you more about that themselves. But before the reveal, I first want to share some highlights about what makes this partnership successful: 

First, they have developed buy-in and support at all levels throughout the department. In December 2020 their Executive team not only made a pledge to identify sustainable work opportunities and hires through LiveWorkPlay. They made a pledge, but more importantly, they took action. They now have Human Resource advisors, hiring managers, and executives, all working towards fulfillment of their pledge. Five of their departmental divisions have completed successful hires, demonstrating that this is not just one person or a small group of people moving the needle, this is real teamwork.  

Second, the people they have hired have taken on a variety of roles doing everything from using specialized software to update, maintain and compile information, to electronic filing, administrative projects, inputting payments, email correspondence, and so much more!  

They do not place people based on their disability, they see each person as an individual and they are not just open to support from LiveWorkPlay, they value our expertise and the opportunity to recruit and support potential employees with the best information available. 

Finally, this department not only holds the current record for the most hires in total of any department, they hold the current record for the most permanent hires as well! 

Please join me in congratulating ISED: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, this year’s recipient of the Inclusive Employer Award for the public sector. 

Here to celebrate with us tonight representing the ISED team is Director General Dennis Caravoulias, a determined champion of accessibility and inclusion for all Canadians, Senior Project Officer Phoebe Newhook, who works directly with the LiveWorkPlay employment team on a daily basis, managers Stephane Pilon and Alexis Renaud, current employees Brodie Cox and Fred Dixon, and our own Inclusion Specialist Joëlle Perrier-Olsen who dedicates 30 hours of her work week to ISED. 

Congratulations, and we welcome you to share a few words. 

Dennis Caravoulias, Director General, ISED

Good evening everyone.

I’ll start by thanking you, the LiveWorkPlay community for welcoming us here tonight.

It’s a privilege to be surrounded by so many remarkable individuals and organizations dedicated to making a difference.

I am the Director General of Human Resources at Innovation, Science and Economic Development, or ISED for short, unfortunately, our Deputy Minister Simon Kennedy, who is a huge champion of this, couldn’t join us tonight but he sends his warmest regards and to also congratulate everyone participating tonight.

Today as I accept the Inclusive Employer Award on behalf of ISED, I am incredibly proud of our achievements, yet mindful of the work still before us as we strive to build a more inclusive and diverse public service.

Over the past seven years, our partnership with LiveWorkPlay has not only helped us enhance our commitment to diversity, but crucially has taught us that diversity without inclusion is incomplete.

As you most likely know, the disability population is incredibly diverse with specific populations such as those with intellectual disabilities or autism experiencing more severe levels of exclusion.

Our partnership with LiveWorkPlay aims to bridge gaps, ensuring that no group is left behind, with our hiring strategies and initiatives.

In addition to connecting our department to diverse and skilled talent LiveWorkPlay helps to support an inclusive environment where all employees can truly excel.

I want to congratulate the entire LiveWorkPlay team and, of course the employment team, in particular, for supporting more than forty federal departments and agencies to engage in the historic hiring and the retention of employees with intellectual disabilities and autistic persons.

We are especially encouraged by the number of permanent positions in government that have grown each year.

This past year, we doubled that number of permanent positions within our own department for a total of nine to date.

And with the help of LiveWorkPlay there are now forty employees with indeterminate positions across the federal government throughout Canada!

I want also a special thanks to Joëlle Perrier-Olsen, who has acted as a dedicated resource and worked closely to support managers and collaborate with our innovation recruitment and assessment team and workplace accommodation centre.

Joëlle’s expertise and passion have been instrumental in forging connections across the department and developing strategies that have opened doors to sustainable employment opportunities for jobseekers.

As director general of HR, I can affirm that collaboration with LiveWorkPlay has been truly remarkable.

The unique contributions and enhancements in our workplace dynamics and productivity show that inclusion is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

Beyond this, I would like to say that while ISED is proud to stand as a shining example of what can be achieved, it’s important to recognize that our efforts are part of a much larger movement, both ISED and LiveWorkPlay are integral components, of a broader national effort to include persons with intellectual disabilities and autism in authentic and meaningful work.

Thank you once again, to LiveWorkPlay for this award.

We are extremely grateful to be recognized and eager to continue to collaborate and innovate together.I also want to extend my gratitude to everyone in the room with us. Your passion and commitment light the way forward for us towards a more inclusive Canada, where everyone has an opportunity to shine.

Thank you. Merci. Miigwech.