Tim Hortons franchisee Mark Wafer has been selected to receive the inaugural Restaurants Canada Leadership Award for his work in advancing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
The award will be presented on March 1 at Breakfast with Champions, part of the three-day Restaurants Canada Show taking place at the Enercare Centre in Toronto.
“Mark has demonstrated that it is possible to impact change for the better by creating opportunities for those who may be overlooked in the workplace. He has also been a strong and outspoken advocate for other employers to follow his lead,” said Donna Dooher, President and CEO of Restaurants Canada. “Mark truly exemplifies the spirit of hospitality, and we’re very pleased to recognize his outstanding leadership.”
As the owner of six Tim Hortons restaurants in Toronto, Wafer has hired 127 people with disabilities over the past 20 years to fill meaningful and competitively paid positions — from entry-level to logistics, production and management. His restaurants currently employ 46 people with disabilities in a workforce of 250.
Wafer has drawn on his experience to become an outspoken advocate for inclusive employment. He is a member of the federal government’s Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities; co-founder of Canadian Business SenseAbility, Canada’s national corporate strategy for hiring people with disabilities; a member of Ontario’s Economic Development Partnership Council; and an inaugural member of Ontario’s Champions League. He was recently inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame.
“I am honoured to receive the Restaurants Canada inaugural Leadership Award,” said Wafer. “This award shines a bright light on the clear economic benefits of full inclusion in Canadian business of workers with disabilities. It is by far Canada’s largest untapped labour pool. Real inclusion is simply great for business.”