News Release - May 4, 2009
OPPORTUNITIES IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE FOR PERSONS WITH COGNITIVE DISABILITIES
The Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission Wayne Elhard is pleased to announce the opportunity for expanded hiring in the Saskatchewan public service for persons with cognitive disabilities.
"This expansion of this program will help create a workforce that is more representative of the province's population and will provide these individuals with opportunities for greater independence," Elhard said. "It is important to recognize that these individuals are productive workers and are able contribute to the overall wellbeing of the province."
Currently, the Ministry of Social Services' Valley View Centre in Moose Jaw and the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure both successfully employ persons with cognitive disabilities. Duties in these workplaces include assisting with laundry and cleaning equipment or facilities.
Based on the successes in these two ministries, the Public Service Commission is working with hiring managers in government and community-based organizations to expand the initiative to all public service ministries. The employees hired as a result of this initiative will be General Program Assistants.
Public service unions have also been consulted, and are on board with the new initiative.
"Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU) has been, and continues to be, supportive of this program to assist persons living with disabilities to access employment within the public service," SGEU president Bob Bymoen said. "This initiative demonstrates that when union and management work together we can achieve great things."
Canadian Union of Public Employees' Local 600 President Dave Stevenson was also pleased with the announcement regarding General Program Assistants. "We've known for many years the benefits of hiring persons with cognitive disabilities into the workplace," Stevenson said. "It's a great way to provide meaningful employment to this group of individuals, and we are pleased to hear the program is expanding to all ministries."
Dominic Mancuso, the Co-ordinator of Laundry Services at Valley View, also believes that similar programs across government will be of benefit to persons with cognitive disabilities.
"It's worked very well in our workplace," Mancuso said. "Our employees with disabilities are gaining employment skills; there is a benefit to the rest of the staff, and it creates a positive work environment. The staff take a protective attitude toward the persons with disabilities and they're very happy to have them work here."
Currently, 19 persons with cognitive disabilities are employed under this initiative. With the expansion of this program service-wide, Elhard is optimistic this number will increase in the future.
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