Special thanks to Niall Monk Carry and Shane Cadogan in Vancouver for volunteering this content to help others following their path to Canada.
Note: This article is written for Vancouver, British Columbia, but the advice is applicable to all provinces in Canada.
I have been working with Adults with Disabilities (mainly Autism) for the same organization since I arrived in 2008. I originally started on a part-time basis and was given a full-time contract after a three-month trial. From my experience, this seems to be fairly common as employers like to be as sure as possible about an employee before offering a full-time contract, so don’t be put off if you’re offered part time to start. My experience here has been great when compared to Ireland as the overall standard is much higher than back home. There is a huge amount of flexibility with regards shifts, ranging from day programs to residential homes involving evening and night shifts, with many organisations providing some excellent ongoing training at work.
The vast majority of organisations are located in the suburbs of Vancouver with only a small amount located near the city, so be prepared to look outside central Vancouver. The best way I found was to Google “community living organizations” and “adults disabilities day programs”. I found my current job, however, in the non-profit section of craigslist. There have been quite a few cuts made to the budgets of disability organizations over the past few years and some employers are finding it difficult to post jobs due to the cost, so even if you can’t see job postings from an employer send in your resume anyway as they could be hiring.
Organisations in Vancouver look for a few requirements. Some of these can be acquired before an interview is arranged and having them before going into an interview is an advantage.
- They look for a College/University Diploma/Degree. There is nothing better than experience in this line of work, however, so if you have a decent amount of experience an employer may take you on even without a qualification.
- A valid First Aid with CPR is a must for most organizations. If you turn up to an interview with a newly acquired First Aid with CPR it looks good to the employer and means you can start straight away as opposed to having to do a course before you can start. The are two training bodies offering training almost every week that are accepted Canada-wide: 1) The Canadian Red Cross — , and 2) St. Johns Ambulance Canada.
- A recent police cert for both the country you have just arrived from and for Canada. Even if you have just stepped off the plane they usually require a Canadian one for their records.
- A valid BC driver’s licence, with many organisations looking for a Class 4 driver’s licence. Dont be put off if you don’t have this or even if you don’t drive, but having a valid BC licence, especially a Class 4 licence, would give you a huge advantage in the employment process.