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Challenge lands Education Department's contract to find work for disabled residents

The Yukon government has found an experienced non-profit group to take over the task of helping people with disabilities find work.

The Yukon government has found an experienced non-profit group to take over the task of helping people with disabilities find work.

Challenge Disability Resource Group was recently awarded the contract by the Yukon Department of Education.

The department issued the tender earlier this year after it denied funding to the Yukon Council of Disabilities, saying that the group couldn’t meet the requirements to get the money.

Without that money the council was forced to close.

In an interview yesterday, Education Minister Doug Graham said the details of the new deal are still being negotiated.

The two sides also haven’t agreed on exactly how much it’s going to cost.

“They’ll be doing case-management services, they’ll be doing referrals to labour market programming, all for persons with disabilities,” Graham said.

Case managers will work with people to identify challenges to entering the workforce, organize aptitude testing, identify other training someone could take, and figure out what an employer would have to do in terms of accommodations.

Case managers will help clients by identifying obstacles to getting a job, lining up aptitude testing and training, and figuring out what accommodations an employer would offer.

Everything should be up and running by July. In the meantime, case management is being provided by the department’s labour market programs and service unit.

Graham said he expects the government to set targets for requirements like how many people Challenge is expected to see.

“That will be based a lot on Challenge’s experience as well as the department’s experience in that area,” Graham said.

“So they’ll agree on a number of approximately how many people they will see in a year and the fee will be basically assigned on that amount.”

Last fiscal year, the department gave the Yukon Council on Disability $302,000.

When news broke in February that the organization was closing, Graham said the group was unable to demonstrate it was operating efficiently.

Yesterday, Graham said he believes Challenge has a clear understanding of what is expected of them.

On top of that, they already have the administrative support in place, he said. That wasn’t the case for everyone who applied for the job.

“They have the bookkeepers already, they have the administrators that are necessary to move this process forward,” he said,

“and with other non-government NGOs, many of them had to ramp up their own organization in order to handle it. We’re pretty happy with Challenge actually because they won’t have to do that.”

Since 1976, Challenge has offered various on-the-job training programs. These currently include running the cafe inside the Yukon legislature, operating a woodshop and offering landscaping and greenhouse training.

Graham said this new contract is aimed at people who are not already working with Challenge.

He sees the two responsibilities as completely different.

“They’ll be working with other employers to try and find employment for persons with disabilities, and they’ll work with the department as well of course,” he said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at