David C. Onley Postdoctoral Research Award in Work Disability Policy

About the award

December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year, Inclusive Design for Employment Access (IDEA), in collaboration with the Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN), is marking the occasion with a call for applications to the David C. Onley Postdoctoral Research Award.

The Honorable David Onley was the 28th lieutenant-governor of Ontario. He was a disability advocate, a champion for inclusive employment and a former broadcast journalist. Onley established accessibility as the overarching theme of his mandate, which he defined as that which enables people to achieve their full potential.

This award will be given to a researcher who embodies the values espoused by The Honorable David Onley. The recipient of the award will conduct research on projects that advance workplace capacity for recruitment, hiring, onboarding, retention, mentorship and advancement of persons with disabilities, across the full range of employment opportunities.

Like my late husband David, what’s most important to me is to put knowledge into action, states Ruth Ann Onley. It’s so urgent for workplaces in Canada to become fully inclusive. I have high hopes that this postdoctoral position will contribute to the vital work that David dedicated his life to.  

Eligibility criteria

Submissions are encouraged from applicants with an interest in transdisciplinary, applied research in work disability policy, with a focus on employer capacity in the area of accessibility and inclusion. We particularly encourage candidates who identify as a person with a disability to apply for the position.

  1. Applicants must have completed a PhD (or equivalent) at the time they begin the fellowship, in one or more fields within the social sciences and have a strong quantitative and statistical background.
  2. Applicants must have knowledge in applied economics, particularly in economic evaluation.
  3. Applicants must be within five (5) years of completion of their PhD, have held no more than one other postdoctoral fellowship (or equivalent), and have not held another academic job as an independent investigator (e.g., assistant professorship).
  4. Applicants should have an interest in approaching research questions from a multi-/trans-disciplinary perspective.
  5. Applicants should have an interest in working closely with stakeholders and embracing a co-design approach in their research.
  6. Applicants must hold Canadian citizenship, have permanent residency status in Canada or be eligible for a Canadian work visa at the time of application.
  7. Applicants cannot hold another major salary award in addition to the David C. Onley Postdoctoral Research Award.

Conditions of the appointment

  1. The successful candidate will conduct scholarly inquiry within the priority areas relevant to IDEA and is expected to contribute scholarly work in the form of peer-reviewed papers, presentations and grant proposals, as well as support the development of tools and resources for use in the work disability policy arena during the tenure of the award. There are various partnered projects within IDEA that the recipient will support in addition to developing her/his/their own research program.
  2. Time allocation for the successful candidate's own research program will be approximately 25 per cent, with the remainder of the time dedicated to collaborative research projects, some of which the successful candidate may lead.
  3. The award is for up to two years (i.e., one year with the possibility of a one-year renewal). If the award is terminated during its course, the award will be prorated.
  4. The successful candidate will work with Dr. Emile Tompa and will submit brief interim written reports to Dr. Tompa at three, nine, 12 and 18 months into the term. A final detailed report must be filed prior to the conclusion of the award term.
  5. The award currently stands at approximately $65,000 CDN per annum, plus a benefit package and conference travel support. Only one award is awarded.

How to apply

Applicants must complete and submit an application form. The following materials are required for the application:

  • Cover letter and curriculum vitae.
  • Copies of transcript of academic records (graduate, complete with description of grading scale employed). Official transcripts are not required.
  • Abstract of the postdoctoral research proposal (maximum 250 words).
  • A statement of the applicant's planned program of research to be conducted during the term of the fellowship (maximum three pages). The statement should be written by the applicant and should include the scientific and career benefits expected to be derived from the research and its relevance to the mission of IDEA.
  • Applicants must also arrange for three (3) academic reference to be sent directly to IDEA.

Prospective candidates can email their application to Sabrina Chaudhry at schaudhry@iwh.on.ca. The posting will be up until the position is filled.

Evaluation process and notification of award

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of IDEA senior staff and evaluated based on scientific merit, potential innovativeness, feasibility of proposal and alignment with IDEA’s mission and vision.


If you have any questions, please contact:

Sabrina Chaudhry
National Manager
Inclusive Design for Employment Access (IDEA)

About the award sponsors

IDEA is a social innovation laboratory focused on helping create stronger and more diverse labour markets that include persons with disabilities, through knowledge to practice. IDEA develops evidence-informed tools and resources through co-design with partners that help advance workplace capacity for inclusive employment. The initiative is funded by the New Frontiers in Research Transformation Stream program for a period of six years. Dr. Emile Tompa, senior scientist at the Institute for Work & Health (IWH), is executive director of IDEA.

ODEN is a professional network of employment service providers united to increase employment opportunities for people who have a disability. It has over 140 member agencies, all in the business of helping people who have a disability get into the workforce. Members are from every corner of Ontario and support people of all disability types. ODEN has connections with organizations in most provinces and territories of Canada.

Application deadline:

This opportunity is now closed.