Brock University

Chronic Illness, Paid Employment and Social Location

This session welcomes papers about experiences of working in paid employment while living with chronic illness. Acceptable papers will contribute towards the development of a theoretical understanding of this topic that is grounded in lived experiences. Particularly welcome are papers that focus on ways that gender conditions the ability to seamlessly combine chronic illness with employment, although other social locations could also be problematized. For example: how does visible minority status affect the ability to combine chronic illness with employment; how does social location condition the likelihood that someone will remain quiet about their illness and how it affects them; to what extent is there evidence that people with a privileged social location who are also living with chronic illness are more likely to find it easy to engage in paid employment. Other issues that papers could focus on include, for example, an examination of the experience of attempting to gain access to accommodations and how that varies according to social location; an examination of relations with co-workers and how that affects the employment experience; etc.

Session Organizer: Sharon-Dale Stone, Lakehead University,


Disability and work: A review of best practices to improve the under-utilized talent of people with disabilities in the Canadian labour market

Sally Lindsay, Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Dept. Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, , Athena Goodfellow, Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospita , , Bonnie Kirsh, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, , Mary Kita, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, , Donna Lero, Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being, University of Guelph,

Despite common myths, most people with disabilities are willing and able to work, yet they are among the largest source of untapped talent in the labor force. There are approximately 2.4 million working-age Canadians with a disability. Many of these people are unemployed but want to work, and their disabilities do not prevent them from doing so. Thus, people with disabilities represent a substantial under-utilized pool of qualified, capable workers to help fill a gap in Canada’s labour market. There is consistent evidence showing a strong business case for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce. Further, most employers report that they can accommodate workers with disabilities at little to no cost. Despite the numerous benefits of including this group in the workforce, their employment rate is approximately half the rate of people without disabilities. They continually face barriers to securing and maintaining paid employment. The exclusion of people with disabilities from employment opportunities is often linked directly to the social organization of the labour market and not to individual impairments. As a result, more efforts are needed to identify best practices to increase the participation of people with disabilities in the labour force. This scoping review highlights the most promising policies, programs, and interventions in for including people with disabilities at work. This information, gathered with the aim of improving inclusion, recruitment and retention of people with disabilities in the labour force, will be disseminated to policy decision-makers, business leaders, rehabilitation counselors, and people with disabilities.


Negotiating In/Visible Chronic Illness in the Workplace: Experiences of People with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) in Canada and the UK

Tiffany Boulton, University of Leeds,

Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a non-visible and socially contested chronic illness. This paper is based on the findings from my PhD research on the experiences of people with FMS in Canada and the United Kingdom (UK), and it will address how FMS is made in/visible within the workplace in these two countries. Drawing on Goffman's work on stigma and passing, and based on in-depth qualitative interviews with 31 women and men who have FMS, I will discuss the identity management strategies that they engage in the context of the workplace, by examining when, where, how, why and to whom they choose to reveal their condition.  In addition, this paper will explore how the perception of FMS as a “women’s condition” impacts decisions around choosing whether or not to disclose FMS to employers and/or co-workers, and the reactions to this disclosure in the workplace. Finally, it will compare Canada and the UK in relation to access to disability benefits and workplace accommodations, and will examine how these different cultural contexts impact the in/visibility of FMS in the workplace.




Paid Employment and Its Impact on Health Practices among Canadian Older Adults

Lichun Liu, Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy, University of Lethbridge, , Susan McDaniel, Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy, University of Lethbridge, , Germain Boco, Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy, University of Lethbridge,

Older people make up an increasingly important part in the Canadian labour market. However, we know little about the influences of their work, paid or unpaid, on their healthy aging practices to avoid diseases and illnesses in old age. This paper explores the impact of paid and unpaid work on health-related behaviours and practices among Canadian older adults aged 55 years and above. In particular, this paper examines how paid employment and unpaid household work and care work interact with gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and immigration status in influencing what older people do and how they do it in order to stay healthy and to cope with challenges living with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases. This paper uses data from the Canadian Community Health Survey—Healthy Aging (2010). A gender-based analysis will be used in data analysis by highlighting the interaction of gender, age groups, level of education, employment status/history and immigration status.


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