Carleton University hosted the launch today of the David C. Onley Initiative for Employment and Enterprise Development – an innovative partnership among Ottawa’s post-secondary institutions to develop knowledge, resources and tools to support students with disabilities in advancing their careers.

The Honourable David C. Onley, former Ontario lieutenant-governor and the initiative’s namesake, was on hand to deliver the keynote address.

“Lack of employment continues to be one of the greatest barriers to full equality faced by persons with disabilities,” says Onley. “I am honoured to be associated with and lend my name to Carleton’s inspiring new initiative.”

The two-year, $5-million project is funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. It was envisioned by Carleton’s Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities (PMC) and the Research, Education, Accessibility and Design Initiative (READ).

“Carleton has a longstanding commitment to accessibility and has always been a leader in providing programs that support student success,’’ says Carleton President Benoit-Antoine Bacon. “We are Canada’s most accessible university and the David C. Onley Initiative takes us a step further.”

Carleton’s READ Initiative will direct the project in partnership with the University of Ottawa, Algonquin College and La Cité. Presidents of the institutions, including Bacon, the University of Ottawa’s Jacques Frémont, Cheryl Jensen at Algonquin College and La Cité’s  Lise Bourgeois, signed an agreement to support the innovative initiative. The project is part of Education City, an effort to facilitate collaboration among the four post-secondary institutions in Ottawa.

“The David C. Onley Initiative is an attempt to answer a deceptively simple yet challenging question: Why are graduates with disabilities not gaining employment at the same rate as the general population?’’ says Boris Vukovic, director of the READ initiative.

“We seek to understand why this is the case and to use that knowledge to effect change. But we cannot do this on our own, which is why Carleton University is partnering with the University of Ottawa, Algonquin College and La Cité to collaborate with employers, government, community agencies and – of course – students  with disabilities. We wish to influence a shift in perspective on persons with disabilities and employment, and promote a sound business case with value added for the employers, employees and our economy.”

The Onley Initiative will examine factors contributing to lower rates of employment and increase them by engaging industry, building awareness, fostering entrepreneurial endeavours and developing employment supports in post-secondary institutions.

“Recently, we have determined that our student population registered at the Paul Menton Centre equals the seven-year graduation rate of the general student population,’’ says PMC Director Larry McCloskey.

“This is a huge accomplishment. Unfortunately, in society, students with disabilities who have graduated are still twice as likely to be under or unemployed as their able-bodied peers once they embark on a career.

“The David C. Onley launch is our collective endeavor to research why students with disabilities remain disadvantaged to such an extent after graduation and create programs that are scalable and transferable so that other post-secondary institutions can address the problem and narrow the employment disparity. We are determined to make a significant contribution to changing the employment culture for persons with disabilities.”

For more information about the Onley Initiative, please visit:

Media Contact
Steven Reid
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University
613-520-2600, ext. 8718

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Monday, August 27, 2018 in
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