Prince George Employers Sign on to Support Disability Management Excellence Initiative



    VICTORIA, June 10 /CNW/ - The National Institute of Disability Management
and Research (NIDMAR) has been given a one-time $1-million grant from the BC
Government to fund a new Disability Management Excellence initiative and plans
to put the money to work providing grants for BC employers to improve the
disability management (DM) and return to work (RTW) programs in their
workplaces. Major Prince George employers Canfor and the University of
Northern British Columbia are among the first in the province to sign on as
launch partners for the initiative and apply for DMExcellence grants.
    The goal of the DMExcellence initiative is to have as many BC public and
private sector employers as possible adopt an international best practice
benchmark standard in disability management and return to work. The standard
is set by the International Disability Management Standards Council (IDMSC),
administrators of the Consensus Based Disability Management Audit (CBDMA) and
the Workplace Disability Management Assessment (WDMA), developed in
collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), a UN
sub-organization. There are 14 countries involved in implementing the
standards, as well as Labour Canada and a number of workers' compensation
boards.
    "I'd like to congratulate the British Columbia government on its
leadership - provincially, nationally and internationally - in making this
Disability Management Excellence initiative a reality," says Viateur Camiré,
NIDMAR Employer Co-Chair and Vice-President Human Resources, AbitibiBowater,
one of Canada's largest manufacturing companies. "Effective Disability
Management programs are of major importance to Canadian employers as we not
only deal with escalating disability related costs but also with many
contemporary labour market challenges such as increasing incidences of mental
health issues, and an aging workforce requiring accommodations."

    Groundswell of Support Grows for DMExcellence

    With funding and support from the British Columbia Ministry of Employment
and Income Assistance under its Disability Strategy, DMExcellence is also
benefiting from the support of the following sponsors:
    
    -   WorkSafeBC
    -   Healthcare Benefit Trust
    -   BC Human Resources Management Association
    

    Former WorkSafeBC President and CEO Ralph McGinn will chair a
DMExcellence Advisory Committee that will process employer applications for
grants of up to $5,000 to conduct a Consensus Based Disability Management
Audit (CBDMA), up to $2,500 for a shorter Workplace Disability Management
Assessment (WDMA), and up to $10,000 to implement and improve disability
management practices in the workplace.
    The DMExcellence initiative has earned high praise from the Business
Council of BC, with President and CEO Virginia Greene noting "that it will go
a long way towards raising the participation of persons with disabilities into
the British Columbia labour force." Unions are on board with the initiative's
consensus-based approach as well, including Canada's largest private sector
union, the 280,000-member strong United Steelworkers (USW) in Canada.
    Ken Neumann, Labour Co-Chair of NIDMAR and Canadian National Director of
the USW says, "In order to attain our financial, societal and personal goals,
meaningful employment is as essential to people with disabilities as it is to
most others in our society. Unfortunately, people with disabilities are all
too often marginalized in our society, especially when they have been out of
the labour force too long. Only through effective joint Disability Management
programs, ensuring that on-set of a disabling condition does not sever an
existing employment relationship, can we have a significant impact on this sad
reality."

    BC Employers Represent Provincial Cross-section

    A number of BC employers - representing a broad cross-section from
forestry, mining, health and airport authorities to the public sector,
municipalities, school districts, insurance companies and universities to
retailers and the legal, accounting and financial professions - have already
agreed to undergo the CBDMA and are challenging other organizations in their
industry sectors to have a disability management needs assessment conducted in
their workplaces as well.
    Rob Stewart, Vice President, Human Resources, Canfor is one of the
committed employers signing on with the BC Government and NIDMAR initiative
designed to remove barriers, restore lives and reduce costs of disability.
    "The rehabilitation and reintegration of disabled workers into the
workplace is the right thing to do. This is why Canfor has been a long time
supporter of NIDMAR and now the establishment of the Disability Management
Excellence Initiative. There are enormous benefits of having a comprehensive
disability management program. For Canfor, it allows for the retention of
skilled workers through early return to productive employment and strengthens
the culture of safety and safe work practices on the job site. We are
especially encouraged by the development of an audit protocol from external
sources as a way in which to enhance the credibility of the Initiative and
promote continuous improvement."

    
    Other organizations participating as launch partners for the initiative
include:
    -   Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
    -   British Importers Ltd.
    -   Canadian Pacific Railway
    -   Canfor Corporation
    -   City of Port Alberni
    -   Highland Valley Copper, owned by Teck Cominco
    -   Island Timberlands LP
    -   Phillips, Hager & North
    -   School District No. 23, Central Okanagan
    -   University of Northern British Columbia
    -   Vancouver Airport Authority
    -   Vancouver Coastal Health Authority
    

    Eileen Bray, Chief Financial Officer, University of Northern British
Columbia, outlines the university's reasons for taking part "UNBC is excited
to be a participant in the Disability Management Excellence Initiative as it
will greatly enhance the University's goal of creating and maintaining
physical, intellectual and social access to the University for persons with
disabilities. We are committed to providing access and reasonable
accommodations to the public, employees, and academically qualified persons so
that, whenever possible, such persons may be included in all aspects of the
University experience. This initiative will allow us to build on our successes
and to identify areas to be enhanced so that UNBC will be recognized as a
leader among BC Public Sector employers in this field."
    For more information and to download an application for a Disability
Management Excellence grant, British Columbia employers are invited to visit
www.dmexcellence.ca.

    Founded in 1994, Victoria-based NIDMAR is an internationally recognized
organization committed to reducing the human, social and economic costs of
disability. NIDMAR's primary focus is the implementation of workplace-based
reintegration programs, which international research has proven is the most
effective way of restoring and maintaining workers' abilities, while reducing
the costs of disability for workers, employers, government and insurance
carriers. NIDMAR is supported by a broad-based Board of Directors and is the
Secretariat for the International Disability Management Standards Council
(IDMSC), with senior representatives from 14 member countries. For more, visit
www.nidmar.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts (Photos are available on request
of the DMExcellence Initiative funding announcement on June 9 at the Pan
Pacific Hotel with Minister of Employment and Income Assistance Claude
Richmond and NIDMAR Executive Director Wolfgang Zimmermann): Kathy Eccles,
Public Relations, NIDMAR, (250) 722-2031, kathy@on-cue.ca; Wolfgang
Zimmermann, Executive Director, NIDMAR, (250) 720-3054, wolfgang@nidmar.ca

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NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DISABILITY MANAGEMENT AND RESEARCH

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