By Angelika DAWSON
It’s Friday and Chris Waugh is heading out the door to go to work. He’s leaving himself enough time so that he’ll be able to put on his uniform and prepare himself for the day. Chris loves his job and doesn’t want to be late.
On this particular weekend, thousands of people will be coming to the Tradex in Abbotsford for the Vancouver Motorcycle Show, the busiest weekend of the year. Chris is one of several employees in the food and beverage services area. What makes Chris different from his colleagues is that he lives with a developmental disability. His boss figures that most of them are not even aware that he has a disability.
“Chris’ dedication to learning is one of the best I have ever seen in an employee,” said Linda Schneider, director of food and beverage services.
“He is not afraid to ask questions if he is unsure of something. Chris is never late, he never calls in sick and he gives 100 per cent every shift.”
Working in the dish area is a highly task-oriented job which suits Chris perfectly. Along with washing and drying dishes, Chris also cleans the condiment stands, clears tables and interacts with customers.
“I really like building relationships with my co-workers and my supervisor,” he said. “I like working hard and I hope that I always do my absolute best.”
There are more than 385,000 people in B.C. who live with disabilities. Over 77 per cent of them are unemployed.
“The challenge is to try and help employers see that there are great benefits to hiring someone with a disability,” said Dan Stubbs, an employment specialist with Communitas Supportive Care Society in Abbotsford.
Stubbs points to a 2013 report from the panel on labour market opportunities for persons with disabilities, which shows that people with disabilities rate better than their co-workers on work safety, attendance and job performance.
“Having a person with disabilities in the workplace brings in more customers because they appreciate a business with an inclusive workforce,” he said.
“It’s also been proven to increase overall company morale and productivity and businesses report an increase in employee retention.
“At the end of the day, hiring someone with a disability is good for the bottom line.”
To learn more about how you can involve people with disabilities in your workplace, visit communitascare.com/services