Toronto courier company offers work, support to those with developmental disabilities
Published Tuesday, July 25, 2017 10:05PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 26, 2017 4:31PM EDT
For many people with developmental disabilities, finding a full-time job that provides the necessary support is a major challenge.
It’s estimated that more than 70 per cent of Canadian adults with developmental disabilities are unemployed, according to Statistics Canada.
A Toronto delivery service is trying to reduce that number by offering steady work to its team of couriers, and they hope the innovative model can be rolled out across Canada.
Good Foot was founded in 2012 by Kirsten Gauthier and her brother Jon Gauthier. As a social enterprise and registered charity, Good Foot connects anyone looking to send a package with its delivery team, who travel across Toronto by foot or public transit.
They’ve since hired 30 couriers and have a waiting list of more than 100 people looking to join the team.
The sheer number of applicants proves that people with disabilities are looking for jobs that fit their needs, the founders say.
“We just want to be able to employ as many people as possible and get them working and give them a place to come to and something to do every day,” Jon told CTV News.
Jon Gauthier, 42, who has a disability himself, says he understands the struggle to find work first-hand. For years, he was unable to find consistent employment in his field.
“I didn’t really fit in to a nine-to-five job,” he said.
Since co-founding Good Foot, Jon has worked as a courier, a dispatcher and in a management role. He says the service helps dispel misconceptions.
“It’s all about proving people wrong,” he said. “All people need is an opportunity to show that you can do things and then they’ll be amazed with what you can do.”
Managing director Ryan Hollinrake says that more private donations could help Good Foot grow across Canada and provide thousands more jobs for people with developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome and autism.
"I’d like to take Good Foot to Montreal, to Vancouver, to Ottawa. We’ll breach the border and maybe go to New York," he said.
For couriers like Alan Bernstein, 30, who has worked with Good Foot since 2014, Good Foot allows him to be part of a team, make a living and harness his excellent sense of direction.
“I love it,” he said.
With a report from CTV’s Peter Akman in Toronto