A provincial government team examining the issue of how disability is viewed in Saskatchewan and how the Province can better support the inclusion of people with disabilities held a public consultation in Yorkton May 1.
The consultation team is accepting submissions from citizens at public forums, in writing, through an online poll and on social media. The end goal is to release a Disability Strategy for the province.
Mark Docherty, MLA for Regina Coronation Park and legislative secretary for disabilities, said they have not really had a chance to recognize any emergent themes.
“It’s a little early, this is just session number two so we’re just starting to get informed,” he said. “We’ve got the six priority working groups, so people are discussing areas of interest right now, getting to that point of tabulating information. In terms of emergent themes we haven’t analyzed anything from the first session.”
One thing the government is really hoping to come out of the development of the strategy is putting more people with disabilities to work.
“We have a number of employers who really had a success in hiring people with disabilities that really have been a vital asset to the workforce and the workplace so we’re going to call on them to be champions and to explain and to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities within the workforce, but also to help bring to the attention of other employers because we would be of the opinion that this is an untapped workforce that is anxious to make a positive contribution to not only the workforce, but society and the community in general,” Docherty said.
“It’s vital to the economy, it’s vital to our plan for growth, so we’re really hopeful because this is a complete group of folks and individuals that are ready to be productive and want to be productive and want to enjoy full citizenship.”
Although they may be a long way from the finish line, Docherty said what they have seen and heard so far is encouraging.
“We’ve been learning that people have very strong opinions and know where some of the gaps are, he said. “The first consultation we learned that people also came with solutions, they’ve got some really good ideas, so, if nothing else they’ve given us a sense of hope in regards to not only the contributions, but also what people think of this province.”
Public consultations are scheduled to wrap up at the end of May, but the team will continue to accept all other submissions on an ongoing basis. Docherty hopes they will have the data tabulated by the fall and a final report available to the legislature in 2015.