Camilla Boisvert is a fairy godmother of sorts.
She does not have a wand but an ability to connect people, specifically employers and job seekers with mental or physical disabilities.
Boisvert is a job developer at WorkBC Employment Services Centre -North Shore Youth through YWCA Metro Vancouver.
"I have been working on the North Shore for five years now through the Canadian Mental Health Association," says Boisvert. Three years ago she received a phone call from an employee at Grouse Mountain who was in what she calls "an employment crisis."
"She asked us if we could work with Grouse to provide job coaching for her," says Boisvert.
Boisvert also spoke to a Grouse supervisor about doing in-service training for their staff on workplace accommodation for people with disabilities.
"They embraced the idea and so I went up, provided one-hour in-service training to their supervisors, kitchen and housekeeping," she says. "Last May, they contacted me again because of new staff, so I went back up to provide session two."
According to the WorkBC website, the centre "provides services, programs and support to assist individuals who are legally entitled to work in Canada find meaningful employment."
"The Employment services centre at the YWCA North Shore is here to work with businesses and the community to provide a rich diverse labour force," says Boisvert. "Grouse Mountain is good proof that it works."
She says the process usually involves refreshing the employee's memory about their job description.
"I'll go on site with an employee, so if they're having issues with either the task that they must do or time management," Boisvert says. "I'll work on a job list for the employee or suggest ways for the company to provide accommodation such as the job list, time management - like a checklist of duties that the employee would have throughout the day or their shift."
She says this year to date she has helped around 25 employees, and not just at Grouse.
"As a job developer the most challenging aspect of the work is to convince employers that even though clients have disabilities, they have skills and abilities and they are capable of being part of the workforce," says Boisvert.
A lot more North Shore businesses, she says, could be utilizing the skills of people with disabilities.
"Perhaps they're not aware of the programs that WorkBC has to offer through either extra training or in-service training for their employees, additional training for new skills," Boisvert says. "Because WorkBC does offer that."
The most fulfilling part of Boisvert's work is having a successful outcome.
"It's placing a client and that the client keeps the job and they love it and they flourish," she says.
Grouse Mountain has been using the centre's program for many years before she got involved, says Boisvert.
"They don't look at disability as a challenge," she says, adding that in circumstances such as wheelchair accessibility, which is more of a problem at the top of the mountain, Grouse will make adjustments for the employee. "They will accommodate situations like this. They're very responsive, they want the ongoing in-service for more education on how to support."
Boisvert also works with numerous other employment agencies.
"All of us are supporting, are preparing, providing skills to clients who are job ready," she says. "We would love to work with employers on the North Shore."
But, Boisvert says, there is still a lot of work to be done in creating more awareness.
"There's a lot of education that has to happen with employers, companies, about hiring people with disabilities," she says. "Unfortunately for a lot of these clients, because of the barrier that they deal with, they need an advocate."
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