Mark’s Story – Tim Horton’s

My name is Mark Wafer. My wife Valerie and I own seven Tim Hortons franchises. Fifteen years ago, we hired Clint Sparling, our first employee with an intellectual disability, and he is still with us! After that success, we have hired more than 50 people with disabilities.

I understand first hand many of the barriers that people with disabilities face when trying to find work. I have had only about 20 per cent of my hearing since birth. As a young man, I could not keep a job but I have become a successful business owner.

In 1995, when I began with Tim Hortons, I started hiring people with disabilities. Why? Not only because it’s the right thing to do. It’s because I saw a business benefit as time went on. I quickly realized that employing people with disabilities was good for business. I had, and continue to have, low absenteeism, higher staff morale, lower turnover (which can be very expensive), higher productivity and so on. Several of my employees with disabilities have been employee of the year. All are in meaningful positions with competitive salaries.

Studies show that employees who have a disability work 97 per cent safer, have attendance records 86 per cent greater, stay on the job up to 5 times longer, and increase morale so that non-disabled staff stay longer (huge win for me). Accommodations average $500 but in most cases its zero and best of all productivity is 20 per cent higher. Why? Because the job is precious, it took a long time to get that job. I cannot buy the loyalty my disabled staff has for my company. What business would not want this?

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