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Performance Plus and MentorAbility match employees with potential employers

Portrait of two men and a woman.
Patrick Knowles, vice-president of operations, Fieldless Farms, Michael Bastow, production team member, and Ella Gray, team lead, PPRC

A good job can change a life.

It gives all of us the kind of confidence you get from being independent and in charge of your own life.

However, finding your dream career can be difficult. For those living with a disability, the job search can pose even more challenges. That’s why the role Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care (PPRC) is playing across Eastern Ontario is so important.

PPRC is a local coordinator for the MentorAbility program, an initiative spearheaded by The Canadian Association for Supported Employment that facilitates mentoring between employers and people experiencing a disability. With this program, PPRC matches people with disabilities to employers looking for talent. The mentorship can either be virtual, a half-day or a full day at the workplace. If the first match doesn’t pan out, they’ll keep at it until they find success.

“We give the people we work with some hope,” said Linda Simpson, director of rehabilitation services at PPRC. “A little bit of success builds enough confidence to go on to the next step in their employment journey.”

A young man with autism, Michael Bastow, 27, is one of their recent success stories.

Today, Bastow is a team member at Fieldless Farms in Cornwall, Ontario, where he sorts through vegetables, discards any waste and then prepares and packages indoor-grown lettuce and other fresh veggies for shipment to retailers like Farm Boy.

“MentorAbility allowed me to spend a day with a mentor at Fieldless Farms and this helped me to decide if this was the type of work that I was interested in doing,” said Bastow. “After that, I told Fieldless Farms I was interested in applying for a position and they offered me a job in July of 2021.”

At PPRC, it’s not just about placing students on job sites, but ensuring both the employer and employee have the tools they need to thrive. Throughout the employment process, Simpson and her team will provide coaching services to the young people and if they have learning issues PPRC has all kinds of technology at its disposal to help them out, such as reminder apps.

For Bastow, the help he received was about ergonomics. “PPRC purchased an anti-fatigue mat to help improve my comfort when standing,” said Bastow. “And they worked with Ready Willing and Able (RWA) to help me get transportation to my job when I first started.”

“We eventually phase ourselves out at the worksite,” added Simpson. “However, if we’re working with someone who needs more intensive support, we can go to one of our community partners for additional funding.”

While the kind of support PPRC provides is always successful, the talent crisis is making their services an even bigger value-add.

“There are a number of manufacturers in Eastern Ontario who can’t find the workers — especially in smaller communities,” said Simpson. “They’re coming to us and saying, ‘Well I’m ready to hire from your talent pool. Have you got anybody?’”

And luckily, there are several participants like Bastow who are ready, eager and willing to partner up with businesses to try their hand at a skilled trade or career path.

At the end of the day, Bastow’s advice to those considering the opportunity, like PPRC’s programs, is simple but effective.

“Give it a shot!” he said. “Overall, I had a very positive experience and it’s very exciting to be working with Fieldless Farms, which is at the forefront of the indoor farming industry.”

Are you an employer looking for talent, or a student looking for opportunities?

Visit or call 613-748-3220.