Financial incentives to promote employment of people with disabilities: when and how they work best

Reasons for the study

Stakeholders have opposing perspectives on the merits of financial incentives (such as wage subsidies) that are widely used to support employers in the recruitment and retention of workers with disabilities. The issue is not whether financial incentives work, but under what conditions they do or do not work well. This project will respond to an urgent need to understand the effectiveness of financial incentives, and how they should or should not be used to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Objectives of the study

  • To conduct a scoping review of the published literature to take stock of existing knowledge and evidence¬†on the topic of financial incentives to support the hiring and retention of people with disabilities
  • To capture the diverse perspectives of stakeholders, as well as current practices and outcomes associated with financial incentives
  • To develop case studies through qualitative and quantitative analyses of primary data (in-depth interviews) and secondary data (administrative data from employment support program administrators)

Anticipated results/impact

The findings will profile opportunities, challenges, risks and benefits of financial incentives to encourage hiring and retaining people with disabilities, contextualized for Ontario. They will also offer guidance on how financial incentives should or should not be used to increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. As such, the findings will be relevant to injured worker and disability communities, employers, policy-makers, disability program administrators and service providers.

Project status


Research team

  • Emma Irvin, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Quenby Mahood, Institute for Work & Health
  • Kathy Padkapayeva, Institute for Work & Health
  • Emile Tompa, Institute for Work & Health
  • Heather Johnston, Institute for Work & Health
  • Maureen Haan, Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work
  • Rebecca Gewurtz, McMaster University
  • Dan Samosh, Queen's University

Participating organizations

  • Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW)
  • Neil Squire Society

Funded by

Ontario Human Capital Research and Innovation Fund