“In my mind, Canadians with disabilities deserve better,” he says. “We can help them. I don’t think we should let them live in that poverty.”
For nearly 20 years, Ali’s helped people with disabilities find employment in both the private and public sectors. Currently, Ali is an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor for Canada Post. He was previously with the Career Foundation, a not-for-profit in the Greater Toronto Area that helps connect job-seekers and employers. The foundation often works with people with disabilities in the GTA and Hamilton. Previously, Ali worked with LinkUp Employment Services for Persons with Disabilities, a Toronto not-for-profit focused exclusively on helping people with disabilities gain employment. He also worked with Project Work, an organization that helps persons with intellectual disabilities achieve and keep meaningful employment.
Most Canadians don’t understand how little financial assistance is available for people with disabilities, he says. “Because our resources as a country and our economy is good, people do not know who is actually left out,” he explains. “It’s an uneducated perception. People are not educated about what government supports are available.”
Poverty makes it nearly impossible for people with disabilities to gain employment, since they often can’t afford to network or participate in other activities that help with securing work. A guaranteed income would mean people aren’t “blocked by the poverty that they’re in,” he says.
Ali has a specific interest in helping racialized people with disabilities from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds build stable and secure lives in Canada. Born in Somalia, he contracted polio as a child, and uses mobility aids to help him walk. He came to Canada as a refugee when he was 19. I “started from zero,” he says.
Since then, he’s been involved with several initiatives to help empower racialized individuals and communities. Ali is a founding member, former director, and the former chair of the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities (CAMD). He is also a founding member and former director of DEEN Support Services in Mississauga, Ont. He was a co-chair of the Toronto District School Board’s Task Force on the Success of Students of Somali Descent and a founding member and former director of the Somali Youth Association of Toronto.
Ali has a Bachelor of Arts degree in public administration and governance and a Master’s of Arts degree in public policy and administration, both from Ryerson University. Ali has lived in Etobicoke since he came to Canada. He lives there with his wife and four children.