Major Okanagan Employers 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. School District No 23 (Central Okanagan) and Highland Valley
Copper, owned by Teck Cominco, are among the first in the province to sign on
as launch partners 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
    "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 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.
    Ken Emmons, District Health & Safety Manager, School District No 23
(Central Okanagan) 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.
    "School District No 23 firmly believes that an effective Disability
Management Program is an integral part of its comprehensive Occupational
Safety Program. To that end we are committed to the well-being and
rehabilitation of all our employees who may be unable to perform their normal
duties as a result of being injured, on or off the job, or who are
recuperating from an illness.
    Not only does an effective DM program foster an early and safe return to
work, minimize the negative impact of the injury or illness on the immediate
family and friends, and build a trusting relationship between both our unions
and management through a continually improving feeling of cooperation, it's
also the right thing to do."

    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

    Emmons adds, "School District No 23 believes that by participating in the
CBDMA we will gain more information to keep our program up to date and improve
it in an organized and thoughtful manner. We challenge all school districts,
both private and public, to participate in a Consensus Based Disability
Management Audit. There is no such thing as a poor score. The end result will
be a solid base from which to build or improve a Disability Management
    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,; Wolfgang
Zimmermann, Executive Director, NIDMAR, (250) 720-3054,

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