At the Timmins Chamber of Commerce general meeting yesterday, the topic of employment was a main theme. Two employment programs were introduced to Chamber members (go here for information about the Employer Database), and the second program is called EmployAll.

EmployAll consists of a group of agencies who’ve come together to improve employment outcomes for job seekers with disabilities. They’re goal is to help all individuals with disabilities secure competitive and long-term employment in the Timmins community.

March of Dimes Canada, Northern College, and the Canadian Hearing Society have all come together to bring this program to the attention of employers in Timmins. Ainslie Armstrong, Vocational Rehabilitation Team Lead at March of Dimes, and Kelly Torresan, from Employment Options at Northern College, gave a presentation about the program, and the goals it strives for.

“Most people with disabilities want work and are able to work,” Torresan explained. “But they have some barriers that keep them from working. What we do is work through those barriers. The main barrier is getting the job. After that, the support that we can provide can give you the best employee you may ever have.”

She went on to list local businesses that have employed people with disabilities and have had a positive experience.

“Some of the employers that we have placed clients with to date, are local school boards, building supply companies, auto dealership companies, department stores, and the list goes on,” she said. “It’s a win win proposition for the client, for the employer and for the community.”

Torresan went on to outline the services EmployAll provides for their clients.

“As a service provider, we will identify, and take into consideration, what your needs are as an employer and what the client’s needs and skills are. And we will do a job match for you,” she explained. “Not every client is ready for every job. We can provide job coaching as well, so you’re not utilizing all your resources to train. We can assist you with that.”

Ainslie Armstrong listed common misconceptions, or myths, surrounding the hiring of disabled people in the workplace. She listed each myth, and later, Dwight Leech, General Manager of Northern Ontario for GDI Integrated Services, was asked to the front and spoke on each myth and his personal experience of why the misconceptions are just not true.

The first misconception is that someone with a disability won’t be reliable and will miss a lot of work.

“We have a young man that’s working with us,” Leech said. “That young man, he just started, he’s at work on his bicycle. […] Five minutes before eight o’clock, he is at work. Smiling, and happy to be there! In uniform, in the rain, […] he doesn’t miss. He’s always there. And he’s smiling!”

The second myth is that employees with disabilities are more likely to get injured on the job.

“He is the health and safety representative for the rest of the staff,” Leech said. “This young man is the example, and he’d proud of it.

The third misconception is that there will be a lot of turnover amungst employees with disabilities.

“This young man, and I’ve had experience with other people, they’re dedicated, they’re committed. When they love their job, they’re happy to be there,” Leech said.

The fourth myth is that employees with disabilities won’t do as good a job as other employees.

Leech explained how, among other duties, his employee is responsible for cleaning the front of the store.

“The owners of the company walked in on a Saturday and they went, “Yup, Blake was here.” Because you walk in, it smells nice, it’s fresh, he takes his time. And he is proud of the work he does. And we remind him of that. We remind him of how well he does a job.”

“Here’s someone with a disability,” Leech concluded. “Do you think they’re there to learn from us? I’ll argue that point because I learn from them. My staff learns from them. […] Working with somebody with disabilities brings us back to what’s important: the training, the consistency. This young man brings me back to even patience. […] He brings me back, he slows me down, he makes me reflect.”

You can learn more about EmployAll, the supported employment program in the Timmins Region, by going to their website at 

You can also call 1-866-607-1336 ext. 5724 or 1-877-215-9530.