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Province helps people with sight loss find jobs

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:39 PST, Fri December 2, 2022

The province is awarding the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) a $2.5-million grant to expand its employment program dedicated to blind or partially sighted people.

The program expansion will also address systemic barriers to meaningful employment for youth and Indigenous Peoples.

"With the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Saturday, I am especially pleased to be announcing the $2.5-million grant for CNIB," said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. "We are committed to improving the lives of people living with disabilities, and through this grant, we support British Columbians living with sight loss, helping them prepare for and access opportunities for meaningful employment."

In Canada, the unemployment rate for people with sight loss is three times the national rate, due to systemic societal and attitudinal barriers faced by people with sight loss.

"This important investment will help CNIB expand its Come to Work program to ensure people who are blind or partially sighted have the necessary skills to transition into the world of work," said Shoko Kitano, provincial director, CNIB (British Columbia and the Yukon). "It will also provide us with an opportunity to build meaningful relationships with Indigenous people living with sight loss to learn how to support them on their employment journeys. The end goal of this provincial project is to inform the development of national initiatives that will remove barriers, such as unconscious bias about the abilities of talent with sight loss, which will foster labour-market resilience as we create an inclusive Canada where everyone can come to work."

Over three years, the provincial investment will support CNIB in:

• Helping job seekers who are living with sight loss prepare for employment, with supports including job-readiness workshops and training

• Engaging employers to help dispel common myths about hiring people living with sight loss and to open the doors to this pool of educated and motivated job seekers

• Matching job seekers with mentors from all employment sectors following their pre-employment skills training

This grant also supports CNIB's work to help identify, remove, and prevent barriers to employment with a specific focus on youth and Indigenous Peoples.

Youth with sight loss who are transitioning from high school to the world of work often experience a lack of accessible and inclusive entry-level jobs.

The grant will help create tailored employment services for youth living with sight loss, including a peer mentorship program and part-time and flexible employment opportunities for youth as young as 15.

Indigenous Peoples experience a higher rate of vision loss and increased systemic barriers to employment, including racial discrimination. This grant supports the building of respectful relationships with Indigenous organizations and enhancing supports for Indigenous people with sight loss.

"To be a truly inclusive province, governments, business and industry, non-profits, and individuals must keep accessibility front and centre in our plans and decision-making so we can build a barrier-free B.C. that works for everyone," said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. "We're working with valued community partners like CNIB to support people with disabilities and to break down long-standing barriers to employment."

CNIB is a non-profit organization that provides direct assistance and support to people who are blind or partially sighted, as well as information about vision health for all Canadians. According to Statistics Canada's Canadian Survey on Disabilities (2017), there are more than 1.5 million people with full or partial sight loss in Canada, 75 per cent of whom live in Ontario (681,000), British Columbia (252,000) and Quebec (205,900). CNIB's research reports that two in five people with sight loss are employed, and three in 10 are employed full-time.

To learn more about CNIB employment services, visit cnib.ca/en/programs-and-services/work?region=bc.

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