A member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, Mac-Weld Machining and its human resources manager, were recently featured at an event promoting inclusive hiring in the province.

Sarah Nishimura, the Mac-Weld official, said overcoming the stigma that exists around mental health is one of the challenges faced by businesses around the province.

Nishimura appeared in a live-streamed panel discussion that took place last Thursday (October 24) from Richmond Hill that was presented by the Ontario Disability Network.

Everyone has something worthwhile to bring to the workplace, said Nishimura. “Unfortunately, I find there’s still a bit of a stigma (when it comes to hiring people with disabilities), especially when it comes to mental health, and I’m not sure why it’s like that,” she added.

The employment rate for people in Canada with disabilities, ages 25-64, was 59% in 2017, according to Statistics Canada. The rate for people without disabilities is 80%.

At Mac-Weld, Nishimura has worked with a local group, Community Living Sarnia-Lambton and its Job Path program.

“That alleviates some of that pressure from the employer,” said Nishimura, who has been recognized her as a champion for inclusive employment. She was nominated to participate in last week’s panel by Community Living Sarnia-Lambton officials.

More information on the work of the Ontario Disability Employment Network can be found online at www.odenetwork.com.