Vancity’s commitment to accessible and inclusive communities for persons with disabilities

As a values-based financial co-operative, Vancity is focused on improving the financial well-being of all its members and building healthy communities. The credit union believes its employee workforce must mirror the diversity found within its communities so it can better serve its members. As part of a commitment to diversity, Vancity provides an accessible, inclusive business environment for members and employees with disabilities, including mobility, visual and auditory impairments, medical disabilities, mental health and neurodevelopmental disabilities. Vancity is a learning institution and as it learns how to better support and serve individuals with disabilities, it continues to adapt and improve its workplaces, branches, products and services..

Advocacy

  • Vancity’s president and CEO, Tamara Vrooman, is co-chair of the Province of BC’s Presidents Group, an advisory committee to government comprised of prominent and influential business leaders in B.C. to champion advice, learnings, employment and consumer opportunities and improved outcomes for people with disabilities.
  • Vancity's president and CEO, Tamara Vrooman, is chair of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization that works to raise awareness, change attitudes, and remove barriers for people with disabilities, as well as fund spinal cord injury research and care.

Workplace initiatives

  • Web-based disability resource centre for employees
  • Dedicated Diversity & Inclusion Team and Wellness & Disability Consultant to support employees and leaders with a variety of disability topics such as accommodation in the workplace, leaves management and mental health
  • Vancity employee diversity demographics help the credit union build stronger programs supporting diversity and enable representative hiring
  • Support for job applicants with a disability
  • Job carves – building an appropriate and meaningful job around the individuals being hired – for neuro-diverse people.
  • Mental Health Employee Resource Group to identify barriers and make recommendations to support employees with mental health challenges
  • Ongoing dialogue sessions with employees to better understand disabilities and how to support members and employees with disabilities

Accessibility features of Vancity’s branches and office towers include:

  • accessible parking spaces
  • many branches are located near SkyTrain stations, or transit routes providing accessible transit to branches
  • all member areas in branches are accessible, providing sit-down and wheelchair-accessible teller wickets
  • contrasting colours and transitional areas in branch design for people who are visually impaired
  • incorporation of strobe-light fire alarms in recently renovated and new branches for people who are hearing-impaired
  • voice-guidance features in both English and French at all ATMs (except drive-through)
  • more than 180 power-assisted door openers in office towers and branches
  • 170 T-Coil/infrared and portable listening devices available in all branches and tower locations
  • easy-to-access website features, including screen-reading software and other adaptable features
  • inclusive signage in most branches and office towers

Tailored products, services and advice for persons with disabilities

Vancity provides support for our members with disabilities through outreach, advocacy and education, financial literacy and business coaching, financial advice and more, including:

  • Registered Disability Savings Plan and Equal Futures RDSP program partnership . Easy, efficient and free services including eligibility assessment and qualification filings for RDSPs; tax credit and benefits review; and RDSP account opening support, through a partnership with Ability Tax and Trust Advisors, providers of the Equal Futures RDSP program.
  • Advice and Business Loans for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities (ACED ) – a program to provide mentorship and coaching to help entrepreneurs starting businesses.
  • – business coaching for would-be entrepreneurs on microloan funding and enhancing business skills.
  • Third-party monitored accounts to support community living members with their banking needs.
  • Tailored, basic financial literacy training for members through our Each One, Teach One employee volunteer program.

Partnerships in support of building inclusive communities

  • SPARC BC, with support from Canadian Institute for the Equality of the Blind and the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, helped conduct best-practice research, informant interviews and a physical audit for Vancity’s accessibility review and mapping.
  • BC Centre for Ability has worked with Vancity to ensure a diverse applicant pool (e.g., strong candidates with a disability) for each externally posted role, and a disability specialist worked on-site to support employees with disabilities and to implement more inclusive employer practices.
  • A variety of partner organizations within the disability services community, including Focus Professional Services, BC Partners in Workforce Innovation, the Open Door Group, BEST, PosAbilities, and Community Living Society, have worked with Vancity to support the hiring and onboarding of employees with disabilities throughout Vancity.

Region-wide initiatives/ investments

The following are examples of projects Vancity has supported through loans, grants or sponsorships to creating accessible and inclusive communities for persons with disabilities throughout its service area.

  • InclusionBC – $50,000 sponsorship of a conference on education and inspiration on developmental disability and inclusion for all.
  • Claiming Full Citizenship – $50,000 sponsorship of a conference on inclusion, citizenship and self-determination for people with disabilities.
  • Community Living Society – $50,000 contribution to obtain accessible technology in their new owned space, so they can reach more members and across the province
  • CanAssist – $26,000 in contributions to fund the expansion of TeenWork, helping marginalized teens with disabilities to transition to the workforce as they leave high school and enter adulthood.
  • Down Syndrome Research Foundation – $57,000 in contributions since 2006 towards the academic, technological and social development of young adults with Down Syndrome who are seeking employment and other programs support.
  • Canadian Mental Health Association – more than $49,000 in contributions to fund a new training centre, hire employees and provide business education.
  • Neil Squire Society – more than $114,000 in contributions since 2004 for initiatives including its Computer Comfort program (for people with significant physical disabilities to develop their computer knowledge and skills) and its Online Employ-ability pilot programs in the Victoria area.
  • Open Door Group –sponsorship and on-the-ground support for ProjectEVERYBODY events, the unTapped conference and the Imagining Inclusion project for mental illness.
  • Support developing accessible housing, including a large-scale purpose development with Vancouver Resource Society and selling at cost the second floor above Vancity’s North Burnaby Community Branch for housing of members of the Community Living Society .
  • PotteryWorks – purchased original artwork from members of PotteryWorks to feature in Vancity’s head office and community spaces.
  • Good Shepherd Lodge – provided a mortgage to the lodge, the largest facility in the area providing support and housing for people with mental illness.
  • Semiahmoo House Society – a $20,000 contribution, $200,000 pre-development loan and $1.35 million line of credit for the mixed development of affordable housing for persons with disabilities.
  • Community Integration Services Society – provided financing to purchase two properties. CISS enables individuals with developmental disabilities to become active members of their community by providing training, volunteer and educational opportunities.
  • Greater Victoria Housing Society – provided a mortgage, pre development loan and a grant to various housing projects the Society has built to serve seniors living with low and moderate incomes, families, adults with disabilities and low-income wage earners.
  • Capital Region Housing Corporation – provided a long-term mortgage for affordable housing for families and seniors with low to moderate incomes, and for people on disability income.
  • Richmond Society for Community Living – contributed to start a Youth Employment Project, services to support the Richmond HandyCrew Co-operative, and financial products that ensure the society continues to meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities.
  • Abbotsford Community Kitchen – contributed to the creation of the community kitchen, which helps youth learn skills to live independently, introduces recent immigrants to Canadian food and encourages them to share their food traditions, helps people with disabilities acquire job skills.

Latest update: February 2018