Montreal Job Search Strategies Forum Report
First-Hand Experiences in the Job Market
Annie Bourbonnière, Secretary, ROSEPH
Annie Bourbonnière has been working since December 2008 at an employment centre for people with disabilities. The centre is an umbrella organization that works in cooperation with the largest union in the province, the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec. Bourbonnière finished her high school diploma at Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board. Being bilingual has been a very important asset. She began her job search on the various Internet job sites, such as www.jobboom.com and www.workopolis.com. She later called her employment counsellor at Emploi Québec to get additional help. The consultants at Emploi Québec were very helpful—they suggested other job sites, and offered grants for accommodations in the workplace, such as adapting workstations.
Bourbonnière received many interview invitations, but often experienced long silences at the other end of the telephone line when she asked whether a workplace was wheelchair accessible. She still believes it is important to disclose her disability outright. She does not want to be dropped off at the front door by adaptive transport services, only to find that she cannot enter the building; this would be awkward for her and for the company. She said some organizations expressed interest in adapting their workplace, but often grew less enthusiastic when they learned how much it would cost to do so.
Her current job as a secretary is her first full-time position. She has worked at different companies through subsidy programs, but never on a permanent basis. Now that she has her diploma in clerical studies, she hopes to get a permanent position. Her current contract is for three years.
During interviews, Bourbonnière confidently provides information about her disability without going into great detail. She reveals that she needs a wheelchair because she is paralyzed in the lower limbs, but does not go into the specifics of her disability, Spina Bifida. She said she does not believe the details are relevant.