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.


About Keenan Wellar

Keenan is a citizen of Ottawa (Ontario, Canada) and co-leader of a social change and community benefit organization,, a registered charity which helps the community welcome and include people with intellectual disabilities, autistic persons, and individuals with a dual diagnosis to live, work, and play as valued citizens. LiveWorkPlay was named Ottawa's Best Non-Profit of 2019 by the Ottawa Board of Trade and Ottawa Business Journal "Best Ottawa Business Awards " With Julie Kingstone, Keenan is co-owner of Wellstone Leadership Services, dedicated to supporting a culture of excellence for non-profit, private sector, government organizations, collaborations, and partnerships. Keenan is a founding member of the leadership group for the From Presence To Citizenship collaborative. Keenan is a regular guest (monthly) of the News 1310 Power Lunch radio show, and he writes the monthly NPQ North column for Nonprofit Quarterly. When not working and supporting various social causes, Keenan loves kayaking and wildlife photography, cheering for the Ottawa RedBlacks and Pittsburgh Steelers, and causing a disturbance on social media.
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