Disability Management Excellence Initiative Gains Support of Major BC Employers

    NOTE TO EDITORS: Launch partners based in Metro Vancouver include: Borden
    Ladner Gervais LLP, Vancouver; Canadian Pacific Railway (Vancouver
    terminus); Canfor Corporation; Phillips, Hager & North; Vancouver Airport
    Authority; and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. Sponsors in Metro
    Vancouver include: Healthcare Benefit Trust, WorkSafeBC and the BC Human
    Resources Management Association.

    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 in accordance with an international best practices standard.
    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
    "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

    BC Employers Represent Provincial Cross-section

    A number of major 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.
    Anne Harvey, Vice President Employee Engagement at Vancouver Coastal
Health Authority 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 aging health professional workforce and the relentless demand for
health services is a head-on challenge, and health care employers are looking
for every opportunity to manage these two forces. Our older workers have much
to give to the health system. Many of them have disabilities, either due to
chronic health conditions or to injuries. We must commit to finding ways to
bring them back as contributing members of our workforce."
    Other organizations participating as launch partners for the initiative
    -   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

    Michele Mawhinney, Vice President, Human Resources at Vancouver Airport
Authority and Member of the BC Minister's Council on Employment for Persons
with Disabilities, is an avid supporter of the initiative.
    "Ensuring we have effective accommodation strategies in place for our
employees, who acquire a disabling condition through either accident or
disease, is critical for retaining highly skilled employees in today's
competitive labour market. Today, I would like to challenge our business
partners at YVR to assess their disability strategies and take any necessary
steps for improvement."
    For more information and to download an application for a Disability
Management Excellence grant, British Columbia employers are invited to visit

    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

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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