Scotiabank is investing $1.2 million in the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), a national charitable organization that helps remove barriers to inclusion for individuals impacted by sight loss. Through the Bank’s ScotiaRISE initiative, the three-year investment will help people who are blind, partially sighted or deafblind improve their educational and employment prospects across Canada.
Scotiabank’s support for the CNIB will be directed towards the Come to Work Program, a national initiative that helps raise employment outcomes of working-age Canadians with visual impairments. Participants obtain training in networking and self advocacy, and in accessible technology such as screen readers, video conferencing and smartphones. The program also educates corporate partners to better utilize assistive technology and accommodations to make workplaces more inclusive and increase recruitment of people with sight loss.
In Canada, the unemployment rate for people with sight loss is 14.5 per cent, three times higher than the general unemployment rate. Despite having comparable or higher qualifications than their sighted peers, people with sight loss face significant challenges joining and staying in the workforce, including lack of access to assistive devices, and limited networking and advancement opportunities. A recent report by Scotiabank Economics calls attention to the important role of inclusive labour markets in helping Canadians with disabilities achieve financial security.
Through the partnership, the CNIB will have the capacity to help more than 1,000 talent pool members access personalized professional development opportunities through workshops, internships, mentorships, networking events with potential employers and referrals to community agencies for employment training sessions and work placements.
“Through the Come to Work Program, people with sight loss will have the opportunity to gain access to networking, training and placements to significantly improve their employment prospects,” said Meigan Terry, Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability, Social Impact and Communications Officer at Scotiabank. “We are proud to support the CNIB in its efforts to improve economic inclusion of people with sight loss and help them overcome barriers to employment.”
The community investment will also help to fund paid internships at CNIB so job seekers can obtain practical work experience and transferrable skills that can be highlighted on resumes and job applications. ScotiaRISE will also become a National Sponsor of Connecting the Dots Conference, Canada’s largest educational and professional development conference focused on education, technology, and employment for people who are blind, partially sighted or deafblind.
“The CNIB cannot change employment outcomes alone, nor can we sustain the work of eliminating barriers to employment for every business across the country alone,” says Thomas Simpson, Executive Director, Come to Work, CNIB. “I want to thank the forward-thinking leaders of our employer partners such as Scotiabank for recognizing the unique contributions that people who are blind, partially sighted, or Deafblind bring to the workforce. Together, we’re creating a Canada where everyone can come to work!”