Innovative Policy 2013 on Employment

Newfoundland and Labrador’s ongoing support through a job trainer

Newfoundland and Labrador successfully ensures that paid employment is a viable option for persons with intellectual disabilities by recognizing that many persons with extensive needs will have a continuing need for on-the-job-support.

The Supported Employment Programme
Founded on:1986
of origin
Canada/Newfoundland and Labrador
Beneficiaries targetedPeople with developmental disabilities
Responsible bodyNewfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Advanced Education and Skills
StakeholdersPublic and private sector


Since 1986 the Supported Employment programme of Newfoundland and Labrador has assisted people with intellectual disabilities to obtain and retain meaningful employment, including self-employment. Comprising work analysis, job coaching and full-time support by a co-worker, the programme facilitates meaningful employment that pays at least the minimum wage, in an integrated setting. Central to its objectives is a professional, a job trainer who ensures that the individual receives the needed training and help for the successful completion of job requirements. Job trainer support can be given full-time and on a long-term basis.


  • In 2011, 575 people with intellectial disabilities were supported in integrated employment settings through the use of a job trainer, in addition to about 500 people who already received this support
  • The programme has successfully broken down substantial attitudinal barriers and savings are generated from increased health and a higher quality of life


Towards a right to support
The programme recognizes not only the right to meaningful work in a community-based setting, but also the receipt of long-term ongoing support in employment.

Protection under general labour law
Individuals are hired and fired according to the general labour law conditions, and paid at least the minimum wage.

Employment First approach
Job trainers are offered to the extent required, and only when the employer offers a meaningful job. Increasingly co-workers are being paid to take on the role of a job trainer.

Sustainable use of financial resources
The programme is cost-efficient, as it is cost-neutral when compared to passive support service programmes and with respect to the additional social and economic benefits.


In 1986, Newfoundland and Labrador piloted its first Supported Employment Programme to fund employment agencies, which developed community-based opportunities on behalf of adults with intellectual disabilities. In the early ‘90s the programme was extended throughout the province, benefiting later from the five-year federal-provincial Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities Agreement signed in 1998 and, thereafter, from the federal-provincial Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities, under which the federal government agreed to share up to 50% of the costs of programmes that meet the objectives of the agreement. With this funding, the so-called Job Trainer Supports programme can support all eligible persons with intellectual disabilities in accessing the open labour market. Originally the programme provided job trainer support also for initial training periods, however, since the ‘90s it has been characterized by an Employment First approach. The programme has been expanding ever since, and an extension to the broader disability community is currently being discussed. In 2010, Newfoundland and Labrador highlighted assistance in employment as one of the key target areas of its Strategy for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.

«Without on-the-job-support, persons with extensive needs are forced to stay in sheltered workshops. Newfoundland and Labrador is commended for providing needed supports without arbitrary time limits.»

Michael Bach, Canadian Association for Community Living


The Job Trainer Supports programme of Newfoundland and Labrador assists individuals with intellectual disabilities requiring support with accessing employment and performing job duties. In general, community groups (usually employment agencies) work to help individuals to obtain employment, including being self-employed and developing microenterprises, and individuals requiring support apply to the provincial Department of Advanced Education and Skills for funding. Once funding is obtained, a job trainer ensures that the individual receives the needed training related to the performance of the job, and successfully completes the job requirements. The duration and the amount of a job trainer support are based on the assessed need of the individual. It can be given full time (up to 40 hours per week and up to 52 weeks per year) and support is given for as long as needed. The programme is characterized by the Employment First approach, providing a job trainer only when the employer offers a meaningful job and pays at least a minimum salary.


Access to support is still dependent on the availability of funding. Currently a pilot programme focuses on transitioning from school to work.


Employment Services, Department of Advanced Education and Skills, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
+1 70 97 29 51 63

National Director Community Inclusion, Canadian Association for Community Livin
+1 41 66 61 96 11


Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Advanced Education and Skills, Employability Assistance for Persons with Disabilities, available at:

Canadian Association for Community Living, Achieving social and economic inclusion: from segregation to ’employment first’, Law Reform and Public Policy Series, June 2011, available at:

Nominated by: Mr. Michael Bach, Canadian Association for Community Living.