A day out on the job

By Flor Marcelino -- MLA for Logan

As published in The Times

November 7, 2016

October was a very busy month for many of us.

October was Disability Employment Awareness Month, an opportunity for us to recognize the wonderful, positive contributions people with disabilities make to Manitoba every day.

As part of this, we took part in the annual Take your MLA to Work Day to showcase the skills and abilities of people with disabilities all over the province. Take Your MLA to Work Day also recognizes employers’ efforts to diversify their workforce by hiring employees with different abilities. These employers help people with disabilities enjoy the benefits of a stable job and a productive workspace that so many of us take for granted. Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting Dan Joanisse at the Claimant Adviser Office of the Department of Manitoba Justice.

Dan Joanisse was introduced to the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA) at the age of 19 after suffering a spinal cord injury. The CPA had an enormous impact on Dan’s life, through their vocational rehabilitation support assistance program. Thanks to the CPA’s help, Dan was able to go back to school and graduate from university in 1997. Today, Dan is a claimant adviser at the Claimant Adviser Office, where he helps people who are appealing bodily injury claim decisions free of charge. He has held this job for almost nine years now.

Darlene Cooper, CPA director of rehabilitation services, noted that the Manitoba government provides the most financial support of any province. Likewise, many provinces do not have the robust rehabilitation program that Manitoba enjoys. With the help of the CPA, 30 per cent to 50 per cent of those suffering with spinal cord disabilities return to work with an improved quality of life. This would not be possible without the support the CPA receives from the government and the public. Dan’s story is only one of many success stories made possible by the CPA’s commitment to helping clients with disabilities transition towards productive lives.

A special thanks to Dan Joanisse for letting me visit him at work, and to Darlene Cooper and the staff of CPA for the wonderful work that they do for Manitobans. The remarkable changes the CPA has made in the lives of people with disabilities are noteworthy.

I’m always happy to hear from my neighbours in Logan. You can contact me at 204-788-0800 or email me at Flor.Marcelino@leg.gov.mb.ca.