2018 marked a year of both continued achievement and significant operational changes for the Ready Willing and Able program (RWA). Despite the overwhelming success of RWA from coast to coast, on August 31, 2018, Phase 1 of the Ready, Willing and Able project ended. Due to changes in project funding RWA is no longer active in all provinces and territories, and for the September 2018 to March 2019 period, is active only in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.
Even with these substantial changes to RWA’s scope of operations, the program continued to meet and exceed its target objectives this year. To date in 2018 alone, RWA has reached out to over 800 new employers, engaging actively with almost 500 of those, and generating 231 new jobs for persons with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder. When considered against the fact that RWA is effectively operating at less than 50% of the level it did for the first 3 years of Phase 1, these results are truly astounding.
Since its inception in September 2014, RWA has been successful in conducting initial outreach to more than 8,000 Canadian businesses, actively working with over 3,600 businesses and together with our 200+ employment agency partners throughout the country have helped realize almost 2,300 employment opportunities. In addition to our outreach and engagement of employers at a local community level, RWA has also established partnerships with many local and national employers including Air Canada, Costco, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Purolator, and Deloitte, to name but a few.
The outcomes achieved to the end of the Phase 1 project and during this current ‘bridge year’, support and indicate value to a ‘scaling up’ and building on what has been successful during the first phase of RWA. To that end, an RWA Phase 2 proposal (3 years, 30 communities) has been submitted to the 2019 Federal budget.
As the proponents of the RWA project, CACL and CASDA (Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance), with their PT partners, have led an intensive effort to increase awareness of RWA’s request to the 2019 Federal budget. This process has proved very positive to date.
As we near the end of 2018, RWA continues its unprecedented success. We are hopeful that the Government of Canada, with its priority of increased employment for marginalized people, will enable the necessary growth and expansion of this initiative so that the same positive difference can be made in more communities. By investing in Ready, Willing, and Able Phase 2, the Government of Canada can demonstrate a clear commitment to persons with an intellectual disability or Autism that no aspect of a fulfilled future need be beyond their reach.