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Equitable Employment in the Restaurant and Foodservice Industry

Equitable Employment in the Restaurant and Foodservice Industry

Working in foodservice is a rite of passage for many young people. Who doesn’t know a teenager or recent grad who's found employment at McDonald’s or in the fast food court at the local mall? Among other things, these jobs teach them courtesy, responsibility, team work and accountability.


Young adults with intellectual disabilities often hope for the same opportunity, but they continue to be overlooked when hiring decisions are made.

Over the last few months, the news has been full of stories about equitable employment for people with developmental disabilities – employment where they’re paid for doing work of value. And typically these employees not only have a great work ethic, they show tremendous loyalty, with a turnover rate far lower than that of other employees.

Community colleges have programs in food preparation and culinary management that have been adapted, so students with developmental disabilities can learn the essentials of cooking, food handling and service without having to fulfil academic requirements.

Mark Wafer, an employment advocate and business owner at Tim Hortons, has shown that hiring people with disabilities benefits not just staff and customers, but the bottom line too. It’s a winning decision, all the way around!

Tim Hortons franchisee Mark Wafer receiving the Restaurants Canada Leadership Award Tim Hortons franchisee Mark Wafer receiving the Restaurants Canada Leadership Award

The vision of Montage Support Services is Live your dream. This vision has enabled and empowered employers to be creative, and to look beyond the typical expectations of people with developmental disabilities. Montage Support Services offers innovative ways for people of all abilities to actively participate in the community, including in paid work.

Some of the adults who access our services are involved in the chef training or hospitality programs at George Brown and Centennial College, gaining valuable experience that they are often unable to use after graduation, because they can’t find a job.

My hope in writing this post is to start a conversation with owners and managers of restaurants and to encourage you to consider how this might benefit your business. We’re looking for champions in the restaurant industry to answer the question “How?” with “Yes!”

Interested in finding out more about us? Visit


In 2015 a task force was established. Sense Ability provides a national listing of Employment partners and resources including Re-thinking Disability in the Private Sector.

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