By The Canadian Press
MONTREAL – Walmart Canada has confirmed it is ending its involvement with a Quebec program that provides job training to people with intellectual disabilities and those on the autism spectrum.
Company spokesperson Anika Malik confirmed in an email Friday that the program, which was in place in several stores, will be phased out in the coming weeks.
“We are pleased to have been able to collaborate over the years with these organizations and to allow program participants to gain new knowledge and opportunities to grow,” she said.
“However, after analysis, we had to make the difficult decision to terminate Walmart’s partnership in the professional training program.”
She said the decision was made after a review that took into account legislative changes and Walmart’s own policies.
Walmart has been facing criticism over the decision since a health agency in the Mauricie region alerted the media to the job losses.
While some social media users and organizations representing people with disabilities have denounced the company, others have said it should be commended for having participated for so many years.
Malik insisted the decision did not amount to firing the employees, even though they are losing their positions.
“These people participated in a voluntary program coordinated by local agencies who partnered with our stores to provide an environment in which they could get involved,” she said.
The company would not confirm how many people will be affected by the change.