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By Carys Mills

The number of employees at Ryerson with disabilities is decreasing, according to a 2007 Employment Equity Report presented at the last Board of Governors meeting.

Although Ryerson’s workforce is becoming more representative of some diverse groups, the hiring of persons with disabilities has been steadily declining since 2003.

The report, conducted by Ryerson, outlines the number of employees self-identifying as persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities, aboriginal peoples and women.

Companies with over 100 employees who receive $200,000 or more in federal government goods or service contracts have to report employment equity statistics.

Those who don’t participate in the Federal Contractors Program lose the right to bid on federal government contracts.

Faculty representation of persons with disabilities was over five per cent in 2003. By 2007, the number dropped to 3.9 per cent, putting Ryerson below the 4.1 per cent Census Canada said is the available hiring pool.

No senior executives identify as persons with disabilities, even with 2.4 per cent of qualified candidates to choose from.

Frank Nyitray is a RyeAccess employee who worked previously for Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services. Nyitray has multiple disabilities, including an acquired brain injury, ADHD, a learning disability and dyslexia. He said the stigma of having a disability might stop employees from identifying as disabled on the survey.

Stefanie Marinich-Lee works at the Access Centre providing academic accommodation for students with disabilities.

“There’s still work to be done, but Ryerson’s headed in the right direction,” said Marinich-Lee, adding that Ryerson sends vacancy postings to organizations that work with people with disabilities.

Compared to other universities, Ryerson sits in the middle. In 2007 the University of Toronto’s faculty representation of persons with disabilities was lowest at 2 per cent while the University of Windsor was the highest with 6.5 per cent.

This year, Ryerson hopes to hire 11 persons with disabilities as faculty.

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