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Ontario unveils employment strategy for people with disabilities

FILE - This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table at a job fair in Hudson, N.Y. Middle-age white Americans with limited education are increasingly dying younger, on average, than other middle-age U.S. adults, a trend driven by their dwindling economic opportunities, research by two Princeton University economists has found. The economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, argue in a paper released Thursday, March 23, 2017, that the loss of steady middle-income jobs for those with high school degrees or less has triggered broad problems for this group. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

TORONTO – Ontario’s new employment strategy for people with disabilities includes a call for all businesses with more than 20 employees to hire at least one additional person with a disability.

The Liberal government’s call to action _ released on Monday _ is not binding, but Minister of Accessibility Tracy MacCharles says it could create about 56,000 jobs for a population currently twice as likely to be unemployed as their able-bodied counterparts.

The multi-pronged employment strategy also highlights the need to create early career opportunities for young people and says it will be investing in more apprenticeships and other early career experiences for youth.

The strategy also announces the roll-out of a “supportive employment” model that allows both employers and those looking for work to tap into help at every stage of the job-seeking process.

The model will be tested in a pilot project starting next year that will run in three Ontario communities _ Timmins, Cornwall and Belleville.

MacCharles says the government’s request to Ontario businesses comes as it tries to address the needs of a growing population _ the provincial and federal governments currently estimate one in seven people has a

disability and expect the number will rise as the population continues to age.