How a Toronto courier service is tackling unemployment among people with disabilities
Good Foot Delivery employs 40 couriers; and more than 120 are waiting to be employed
A seven-year-old courier service is proving to be the answer for dozens of Toronto residents living with a disability, who have been unable to find gainful employment.
Good Foot Delivery only hires individuals with developmental disabilities — whether it's autism, down syndrome, or aphasia — to name a few.
"All of our couriers only take public transit and operate by foot, so that makes us environmentally friendly as well," executive director Ryan Hollinrake told CBC Toronto.
"Quite often we are actually more efficient than other courier services because we don't have to deal with things like traffic, traffic lights, congestion, so we're quite competitive in our time."
Hollinrake says Good Foot offers two different service levels — an express service that delivers within two to three hours; and basic, which delivers by the end of the day — anything from packages to food, dry cleaning, cakes, wine, gift baskets or signage.
Kirsten Gauthier founded the company almost eight years ago to help her brother, who has a developmental disability and couldn't find gainful employment.
"She used courier services all the time for her business and decided that was a good business to go into because it was easy to train individuals to do that and it was repetitive," Hollinrake explained.
"That was eight years ago and we have grown from two couriers to 40 couriers today. We have over 120 people on a waitlist waiting for employment and our goal is to be able to provide employment for all of them."
While admitting that it's a very expensive venture to open up another Good Foot office in another city, Hollinrake said it's part of his expansion plan.
He says they are currently trying to secure additional funding to take Good Foot to places like Hamilton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary and possibly Montréal — within the next two to five years.
But to expand and provide a job for everyone who needs one, Hollinrake said Good Foot needs more clients.
"There is need for more businesses to support because every time we grow in business, we have to hire more; every time we hire we have to get more business, so it's a constant back and forth," he said.
Good Foot has more than 2,000 customers within the Greater Toronto Area, including most of the major banks, financial services, lawyers, restaurants, insurance brokers, real estate brokers and pharmacies.
More than a courier service
But Hollinrake says Good Foot isn't just a courier company.
Good Foot Support Services, which is a charity, offsets all of the operating costs of the delivery service and provides additional services such as lifestyle skills, training, a lunch program and a running club for employees.
All our couriers only take public transit and operate by foot.- Ryan Hollinrake
"Our staff, the reason they stick around with Good Foot isn't because it's just a job. For them, it's a community and it's a way of life," he said.
"Most of our staff, unfortunately, don't get the exposure to much of a network outside of their own family and this really offers them an opportunity to have a community and to have an opportunity to really grow and learn."