Docuseries gives inside look at Canadians with disabilities job hunting during the pandemic
SASKATOON -- Clover Thursday has sight loss but it doesn’t hinder her ability as an artist.
“Since I see the world kind of more simply, I'm able to kind of communicate those ideas in a way that everyone can kind of wrap their heads around -- not just sighted people,” Thursday told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday.
It’s been a challenge for Thursday, like many others, to keep a steady income during the pandemic.
“I sort of lost the job that I was currently working at and it was hard not to feel like everything was kind of grinding to a halt,” Thursday said. She’s far from alone.
During the pandemic, 36 per cent of Canadians with some form of disability reported temporary or permanent job losses, according to Statistics Canada. About one third also reported a decrease in their income.
The job-hunting experiences of Thursday and 11 others with disabilities during the pandemic will be featured in the latest season of a docuseries.
Canadians featured in the series “Employable Me” endeavor to show that physical disabilities or neurological conditions do not make them unemployable. Those featured in the show say they bring a lot to the table and that there are far too many misconceptions about disabled communities.
Katie Lafferty, who produced the series during the COVID-19 pandemic, told CTV’s Your Morning that “all of our job seekers have incredible talents and abilities but have had some trouble getting their foot in the door.”
'HUGE UNTAPPED JOB MARKET'
Lafferty enjoyed showcasing what happens when employers are willing to think outside of the box.
“There is this huge untapped job market of people with neurological conditions and physical disabilities that employers are really, really missing out on,” Lafferty said, echoing what other disability advocates have said.
She challenged employers to go beyond who they think is a good candidate within a traditional interview setting.
“Just because someone may not excel at that process doesn't mean they won't excel at their job,” she said.
But an employers’ inability to recognize talent is only one of a handful of issues people with disabilities have faced well before the pandemic, advocates say.
According to the Public Service Alliance of Canada, people with disabilities face discrimination, higher rates of unemployment and underemployment, higher rates of poverty, and barriers to accessing many services.
Thursday, a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, said it was there where she became a “better visual communicator.” But even she needs to sometimes re-affirm her talents to herself.
“When you're someone with sight loss and you're looking for a job in the visual arts, it's almost counterintuitive,” she said.
But Lafferty reiterated that she’s just one of many “job seekers that can bring innovation, dedication, new perspectives.”
The fourth season of “Employable Me” begins Wednesday on AMI-TV at 8 p.m. EST.