Ready, Willing, and Able: An Employee that Raises the Bar at Kent

May 25, 2017

When Kent Building Supplies was thinking about adding a person with an intellectual disability to their team, they didn't have any concerns about their performance. That's because Patrick O'Neil and his colleagues at the Kent Distribution Centre in Moncton, N.B. had been working with a team member who has an intellectual disability for over 20 years, with very positive results.

 Ready Willing and Able Story


"When you have an employee who is consistent, never late, never calls in sick and is very conscientious, you go looking for others like him," says O'Neil, Director of Supply Chain. So, when another suitable position became available, O'NeiI connected with Jon Lister, Director of Labour Market Facilitation with the New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL). Lister is also NBACL' s liaison with Ready, Willing & Able, a national initiative designed to increase the labour force participation of people with an intellectual disability and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

After discussing the opportunity available at Kent and the employer's expectations, Lister approached the Community Employment Agency (CEA) to help find the right candidate. CEA, a strong partner in the Moncton region that provides support to employees with an intellectual disability and employers, was quick to find the right candidate.

"We interviewed him [Luc], just like we interview anyone else," says O'Neil, "and he was hired." Luc is a "picker," one of 28 employees who fill orders for delivery to Kent stores across Atlantic Canada. Wearing headphones to receive instructions, Luc and his co-workers locate and gather the ordered items and prepare them on pallets for shipping.

Luc has been with Kent since August, 2014, and O'Neil couldn't be more pleased with his performance. "He's always on time, he works hard and he has never called in sick."

That's significant, when you consider that 2013 statistics show the Canadian economy loses an estimated $16.6 billion annually due to absenteeism (2013). When it comes to employees with an intellectual disability, 86% rated average or better on attendance when compared to their colleagues without a disability.

Employees with an intellectual disability rank above average on other performance measures, as well. In an Environics Research study, 84% of employers rated employees with an intellectual disability as being: highly productive, dependable, engaged in their work, and motivated with great attendance records and strong attention to the quality of their work.

"That certainly has been the experience for us at Kent," says O'Neil. "Both of our associates who have an intellectual disability are great workers."

Would Kent hire another person with an intellectual disability or ASD? "Yes, we would," says O'Neil. "Asa matter of fact, we are al­ready working with CEA to find our next candidate.

"Don't be afraid," he advises employers. "In my opinion, hiring a person with a disability is a good business decision."

About Ready, Willing, and Able

The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA) are very proud to be partners in the delivery of the Ready Willing and Able (RWA) initiative. RWA, a three-year project funded by the Government of Canada, is designed to increase the workforce participation of people with intellectual disabilities and ASD.