Vancouver Island 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. The City of Port Alberni, Nanaimo-based Island Timberlands, and
Victoria's British Importers Ltd. 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.
    Mayor Ken McRae, City of Port Alberni, outlines the Vancouver Island
municipality's reasons for taking part. "The City of Port Alberni is one of
NIDMAR's oldest and strongest supporters. Born in the Alberni Valley to aid
the plight of workers disabled in the forestry industry, NIDMAR has now grown
into an internationally recognized organization dedicated to support of
disabled workers in all sectors. NIDMAR's Disability Management Excellence
Audit Initiative is an effective tool for organizations striving to develop
their disability management program and improve return to work outcomes. The
City supports this initiative. We would also encourage all municipal
governments across BC to support this initiative."
    In Victoria, retailer and small business owner Philip Nyren, President of
British Importers Ltd. had practical reasons for signing on. "It is important
in today's tight labour market to find and secure quality employees - some of
those employees might be disabled and not presently working - my reason for
taking part in this audit is to help such employees find us. This is not at
all altruistic; it's entirely selfish and about getting and keeping good
employees."
    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
    

    Darshan Sihota, President, Island Timberlands LP challenged other BC
forest companies to participate. "Island Timberlands is proud to participate
with the Province and NIDMAR in launching the Disability Management Excellence
Initiative as an 'early adopter.' This Disability Management initiative
supports and strengthens the key elements of our existing safety management
system, and we believe that this initiative is a key factor in any successful
forest business. We challenge other forest companies to join with us, the
Province and NIDMAR in embracing this important initiative."
    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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