Federal statistics are clear. The strongest correlated factor of the gap between disabled and non-disabled unemployment in Canada, whether physical or mental disability, is a post-secondary education. Statistics Canada has reported survey after survey that a post-secondary education is a correlation to freedom from poverty, freedom from violence, and freedom from physical and mental illness. For Canadians with disabilities, post-secondary education is an actionable factor that improves all of these outcomes of health and good life.
A person with “severe” disabilities is multiple times more able to access employment if they have a post-secondary education. The employment gap between people without disabilities, and people with “mild” disabilities, who have a post-secondary education, is neglegible; the gap is significant for those without advanced education.
And according to the 2016 Canadian Survey on Disability, it does not matter if that education comes from a trade school, a community college, or the University of Toronto. Learning is learning. With the exception of women with “severe” disabilities, who strongly benefit from a university degree over a trade certificate, the gaps between workers without disabilities and workers with disabilities are all equally mitigated by a post-secondary certification no matter what level of education that may come from.
With this knowledge, now we must turn our research to the barriers faced by people with disabilities in accessing school acceptance and seeing their programs through to the end. We must build solutions that accommodate these barriers and, create post-secondary school environments where these barriers do not exist.
Christopher Whelan is an autistic social worker living and working in his home community of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. In 2013 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, and in 2017 he graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Calgary.
In July 2019 Christopher founded Neurodiversity YMM as a sharing circle and self-advocacy committee for neurodivergent self-advocates in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. In August 2019, Christopher established Fort McMurray's local chapter of Autistics United Canada, Autistics United Fort McMurray - Cree, Dene, Dane-zaa, & Métis Territory. In December 2019 he wrote the first draft of The 95 Theses of Neurodiversity and after months of consultation with autistic self-advocates over social media, published The 95 Theses of Neurodiversity in April 2020.
Christopher's special interests include European history, East Asian pop culture, and the Neurodiversity movement. He shares his apartment with his three year old cat Kaguya, who he adopted in September 2017.
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