Breaking through barriers for workers
who have children with special needs

Ready Willing and Able Update

Ready Willing and Able (RWA) is a national initiative of the Canadian Association for Community Living and Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance and their member organizations. Now in its third year, this federally funded pilot project strives to increase the labour force participation of people with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

RWA focuses on the creation of ‘demand’ rather than ‘supply’. RWA focuses on the employer - informing them about the fact that persons with an intellectual disability or ASD make excellent employees and can fill regularly occurring vacancies. A key role of RWA is to dispel some of the common misconceptions while raising awareness about the business benefits of inclusive hiring.

RWA defines employment as real work for real pay as part of the general workforce and alongside persons without disabilities. Employees are paid industry standard wages, with the same protections and benefits available to the general workforce. Work can be full-time (30+ hours per week), part-time or seasonal. Employment also includes self-employment and assistance to enter post-secondary opportunities. Persons eligible for the project are those who self-identify as having an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

There are four primary components to the RWA model, which can be briefly described as follows:

Create Demand. RWA creates employer demand via employer engagement. This initial engagement is an opportunity to make the business case to employers, pointing out the benefits and value of persons with an intellectual disability or ASD as potential employees to fill existing and anticipated vacancies.

Connect Demand. Once an employer has made a commitment to hire, the employment opportunity (i.e. demand) is shared with local community employment service delivery partner organizations. These agencies then forward suitable candidates to the employer. RWA also assists these agencies to establish and maintain a connection to the employer.

Facilitate Hiring Process. RWA works with the agency to ensure a response that is timely and appropriate to the needs of the employer. Suitable candidates are forward based on job seeker interest, experience and skill set. Assistance is provided during screening and interview process as and to extent needed, to both the employer and/or job seeker.

Provide Support. Needed supports are provided to employer (HR practices, interviewing etc.) and to employee (job coach, transportation, equipment, etc.). Ongoing contact is maintained with the employer, and the employee is supported by agency on an ongoing basis. Supports are monitored and reduced as appropriate.

To date, RWA has engaged more than 6000 employers. In addition, specific training and support has been provided to employers, as related to human resource practices (such as inclusive recruitment methods, screening and interviewing, job accommodations, and disability awareness). To the end of March 2017, RWA has facilitated approximately 1300 employment outcomes. RWA has also assisted many individuals (particularly those with ASD) to connect to appropriate employment agencies and thus access needed, and formerly unavailable, supports. At the community level, RWA has 20 delivery partners, has established partnerships with more than 125 community organizations, and is partnering with more than 200 local employment agencies in meeting the demand created via the RWA project.

Results within RWA are confirming the business case of inclusive hiring and the value inherent in employees with an intellectual disability or ASD. A survey of RWA employers conducted by the Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship of the University of British Columbia (who are the external RWA evaluators) found that RWA employees were rated as well as or better than average on issues such as employee loyally and attitude, and employer satisfaction. This research confirms the obvious - Persons with an intellectual disability or ASD make GREAT EMPLOYEES.

For More Information Contact:

Don Gallant, National Director, Ready, Willing & Able

Phone: (709) 437-1504

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or visit the RWA web site at or