VRA Ontario Adds Great New Membership Benefit!

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my best wishes to all VRA Ontario members for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.


VRA Ontario has a number of activities planned for the coming year. As always, we welcome input from all members as to what you would like your association to provide as benefits of membership – what can we do to add value to you as a vocational rehabilitation professional. I encourage you to send any ideas, feedback, criticisms...whatever you want to send...to office@vracanadaon.com.


New Year – New Board

Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held November 4 in Toronto, and our new Board of Directors for the 2012 year was introduced. I am pleased to fulfil the role of President for the upcoming year. Further in this newsletter we will introduce you to some of the newer members of our Board. The Board will meet in January to plan the activities of the association for the coming year.


The AGM noted above was held in conjunction with our Annual Fall Conference, which was a resounding success. The conference attracted over 150 participants, 11 sponsors and 9 exhibit booths. Speakers included Roger Cecchetto, Senior Leadership Consultant, Workplace Safety & Insurance Board; Kerry Bowman, PhD, Clinical Ethicist, Mount Sinai Hospital; Martine Mangion, Manager, Episodic Disabilities Initiatives, Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation and Melissa Popiel, Coordinator of HIV and Episodic Disabilities Initiatives, Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation; and Helen Sava, Sava Associates. A special presentation on regulation of professions was made during the lunch by Elyse Sunshine of Rosen Sunshine LLP. Presentations are available on our website in the conferences section.


Important New Member Benefit for Ontario Members

VRA National has recently entered into a new group insurance program for Professional Liability Insurance (often called Errors & Ommissions (E&O) Insurance). Professional Members in Ontario are now covered by this insurance policy at the minimum level as part of the annual VRA membership dues. Associate Members are also able to take advantage of the great pricing of this new policy at their own cost. Professional Members are required to complete the insurance application as part of membership in the association. Once again, at the minimum level of insurance (Option A on the application form) there is no additional charge to Professional Members as the minimum policy is included as part of your membership dues. As you know VRA National has sent out a lot of information about the new insurance program, and questions can be directed to National at info@vracanada.com. It is very important that you submit the application immediately if you have not yet done so to ensure your insurance coverage is retroactive to January 1 2012.


I am greatly looking forward to serving as VRA Ontario President throughout the coming year and hope to meet many of you at various VRA and related activities.


Steve Ogden, RRP

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Meet Your Board Members

The VRA Ontario Board is comprised of 12 members. Meet some of the most recent additions to our Board:


Cheryl Dillon

I am originally from Western Canada, British Columbia to be exact. As the result of a personal experience with brain injury, I became interested in disability issues. I moved to Edmonton Alberta in 1999 to complete a co-operative undergraduate degree program in psychology at the University of Alberta, which allowed me to spend a year working in Saskatoon at the Regional Psychiatric Centre conducting research. Upon graduating I was employed with Corrections Canada and various non-profit organizations assisting parolees, and individuals with disabilities to find and maintain employment. While in Alberta, I completed my Master's in Education focusing on Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies through the University of Calgary and subsequently worked with the Alberta Provincial Government in their Disability Supports Division as a Program Advisor, in addition to assignments as a Policy Analyst, Labour Market Specialist and Disability Research Consultant.

While in Alberta I met and married my husband, an Ontarian, and consequently we relocated to Ontario in April 2010 in order to be closer to his family. Currently, I am working as the City of Barrie's Accessibility Coordinator, where I am responsible for the management and corporate policy development of the Corporation's accessibility planning processes and compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Additionally, I support and advise on the development of the Corporation's job accommodation and return to work policies, plans and procedures.

I have an interest in the continuous development of my skills and abilities related to disability management and vocational rehabilitation, particularly return to work issues and I'm always looking for ways to learn more and stretch myself. I also think that knitting is the best form of exercise and I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I am thrilled to be a new board member of the VRA Ontario board and I am excited for the opportunity to connect with and learn from such a diverse and talented group of individuals as represented by the VRA Ontario board.



Susan Holden

Susan Holden is Director of Operations at Grade Learning. She has 21 years of experience in the field of education and vocational training. As Director of Operations for Grade Learning, Susan ensures the successful delivery of vocational training programs by overseeing all operational activities in multiple locations across the province. Prior to this, Ms. Holden had an 11 year tenure with the Special Education Department at the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board. Susan’s focus on vocational training and project management skills successfully launched and managed a school-to-work transition program for disabled youth across the City of Hamilton. Susan looks forward to sharing her educational background and leadership skills to further support the members of VRA Ontario.


1. Increase the visibility of VRA Ontario while improving the ‘value added services’ for its members.

2. Provide additional learning opportunities for members to obtain their CEUs.







Ravi Persaud

I am a graduate of the York-Seneca Rehabilitation Services Certificate Program. I graduated from the program with High Honors. I have a B.A. Psychology Degree from York University. I also possess an Adult Education & Staff Training Certificate and Life Skills Coaching Certificate from Seneca College. I am currently a Registered Rehabilitation Professional RRP in good standing with VRA Canada and a Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Professional (CVP).

I am currently employed at the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) and have held many positions for the past 17 years ranging from working as a Vocational Rehabilitation Caseworker, Claims Adjudicator, Quality Improvement Specialist in the Labour Market Re-entry Program (LMR), to currently working as a LMR Provider Management Specialist managing WSIB Provider Contracts in the quality assurance of the WSIB LMR Program in Ontario.

For the past 8 years I have enjoyed teaching in the York-Seneca Rehabilitation Services Certificate Program, currently teaching two courses - The Rehabilitation Process and Ethics and Professionalism.

As well I teach in Seneca’s Rehabilitation Certificate Distance Learning Program. My most recent contribution to this Program was writing a new course manual for The Canadian Health and Welfare Policy course.

Further to my professional involvement and promotion in the field of rehabilitation, I have sat as an active member for several years on the York-Seneca Rehabilitation Services Advisory Board, providing valuable input on industry changes in vocational rehabilitation and making positive recommendations and contributions to the program to further the profession. I have been a guest speaker for the program and helped to promote and champion new students to become involved in the field of vocational rehabilitation. Many of the students who graduated from the York-Seneca program are now working in this industry and in some cases are colleagues of mine at the WSIB, which is great!

I have also been a professional member of the CHCAA (Canadian Health Care Anti-Fraud Association) for several years. The Canadian Health Care Anti-fraud Association was founded in 2000 to give a voice to the public and private sector health care organizations interested in preventing fraud in the Canadian health care environment. The Association is responsible for the detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of health care fraud.

I am a professional member of the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) which is a Canada-wide, non-profit association dedicated to the advancement of evaluation theory and practice. CES leads the professional community of evaluators, positioning and building evaluation theory and practice.

Overall I'm excited and very enthusiastic about being a part of the Ontario VRA Board of Directors. I look forward to contributing and providing valuable insight to the Board in support of promoting and providing effective and ethical delivery of professional rehabilitation services throughout Ontario and all across Canada.



Jennifer Neill

As Regional Employment Services Manager for the Ontario March of Dimes, Jennifer oversees the operation of a variety of Employment Service programs. Jennifer is responsible for the overall direction of budgeting, contract negotiations, employee performance, program performance and new business acquisition. Prior to this, Jennifer held roles with the Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan and Manulife Financial. Jennifer is a frequent speaker and has presented on a variety of topics throughout Ontario such as Mental Health in the Workplace, Early Intervention and Disability Management. Jennifer holds an Honours degree in Kinesiology, an MBA and is (slowly) working toward a third degree in science. Jennifer Is active in her community, volunteering for a variety of community groups and is kept quite busy with two young children.

Jennifer has been a member of the VRA board of directors since late 2010. Jennifer joined the board to assist in advancing the profession of vocational rehabilitation and elevating the status of the RRP designation.

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Join VRA at OIAA

VRA Ontario will have a booth at the upcoming Ontario Insurance Adjusters Association (OIAA) Annual Claims Conference. The event will be held in Toronto on February 8. If you are attending the conference please make sure to come by our booth!

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Call For Speakers For VRA Ontario Educational Events in 2012

We are always on the lookout for speakers and topics of interest to VRA Ontario members for future seminars, webinars, and conferences. Please forward suggestions to the office at office@vracanadaon.com.

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Membership Renewals

Memberships can be paid online, by fax, or by cheque. All current members should have received an invoice by email this week. If you did not receive the email invoice, please check your junk email box. If it is not there, then please contact the VRA National Office at info@vracanada.com

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VRA National Conference

Save the Date! The 2012 National Conference will be held June 11-14, 2012 in beautiful Canmore, Alberta. Sponsorship information is now available on the VRA Canada website. Registration will open soon. Watch your email for program updates!

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Ont. Speaks is your quarterly newsletter. 
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