Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Student Pierre Quenneville looks for clarification on his list of groceries he needs to price from Georgia Kamateros, a social integration teacher in the Maxi mini-mart at Wagar Adult Education Centre in Montreal on Dec. 4, 2020.

Christinne Muschi/Christinne Muschi/The Globe and

When you have a child on the autism spectrum, you can’t help but worry: With an unemployment rate among autistic adults of more than 80 per cent, what will happen when you’re no longer around to take care of them?

The Polaris Enterprise Initiative (part of Giant Steps Montreal, an organization dedicated to education for autistic youth) recently launched a program designed to give autistic adults the training and internships they need to find jobs. And it has teamed up on the project with Loblaw Cos. Ltd., which in Quebec includes the Maxi and Provigo banners.

The program was designed to provide hands-on experience through placements in different kinds of jobs within the Loblaw organization’s stores and distribution centres. It also includes classroom work at Montreal’s Wagar Adult Education Centre that helps participants develop skills such as organizing and prioritizing daily activities, communication, coping with changes in routine, and money management for independent living.

Story continues below advertisement

Students practice skills like finding products and verifying their prices at Wagar Adult Education Centre.

Christinne Muschi/Christinne Muschi/The Globe and

The first session was to begin in March, 2020, but had to be delayed when COVID-19 measures shut down the school. A new session began in August, with 10 students ranging in age from 21 to 62. During the spring lockdown, Maxi installed a mock-up of a mini-mart inside the Wagar centre where the students do practical assignments before beginning internships inside real stores and the grocery distribution centre. Assignments include learning to fulfill online grocery orders, restocking shelves, checking prices, counting inventory, practicing the cash and placing boxes on a pallet to practice for work in distribution centres.

During classroom time, the students work on self-esteem and other soft skills. Instructors identify each student’s challenges and abilities, and develop strategies to help them succeed in the job market.

According to Paul Karwatsky, who works for Giant Steps, Pierre Quenneville, 62, is from Jonquière, north of Quebec City and came to Montreal for the program at an age when many people are preparing to retire in the hopes it will lead to the first permanent job he’s ever had. “He’s in the program because he wants to work. It’s a great opportunity for him.”

Andre Pereira, Giant Steps Montreal’s project manager for employment initiatives, said he has seen positive changes in the students over the past three months: better attendance and communication, improved self-esteem and increased comfort with job skills. For the adults in the program, being valued is as important as the paycheque – although the goal is equal pay with benefits.

Jean-Paul Ngindu properly replaces a box in a pallet as Provigo trainer Eric Bourbeau (orange vest) looks on during orientation at the Provigo Distribution Centre in Laval on Dec. 2, 2020.

Christinne Muschi/Christinne Muschi/The Globe and

The on-the-job portion of the current session takes place at the Provigo distribution centre. Trainers assist the students during their first orientation day, then they are paired up with workers to learn about inventory. It’s a modified version of Loblaw’s regular training that has been shortened to three hours a week to accommodate the students’ needs, for safety reasons, and to maintain physical distancing.

Eric Bourbeau has been training Provigo employees for 17 years. This session of the program is his first time training workers who are on the autistic spectrum, and he said that as long as he took the time to explain what he wanted and why, the students caught on quickly. “You just need a bit of patience to be more precise with showing the tasks,” he said. “They understand fast, and they catch up.”

Jeremie Desmarais-Gauthier uses a scanner at the Provigo Distribution Centre.

Christinne Muschi/Christinne Muschi/The Globe and

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies