Jonathon Breen

Jonathon Breen, PhD, MSW, BA

During the course of his career, Dr. Breen has served as the chair of a number of boards of directors within the non-profit sector. These have included the Yukon Health and Social Services Council and Options for Independence, a housing project serving adults living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. He has also served as the chair of the Yukon Human Rights Commission.

Dr. Breen is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia (UBC). His work is focused on the relationships and challenges associated with people with disabilities (PWDs) and employment. Dr. Breen’s research has been published in a number of academic journals. His research program includes the development of a self-report questionnaire designed to measure workplace attitudes toward PWDs. In addition, Dr. Breen has developed a new model of disability designed to support organizational efforts to enhance the representation of PWDs within the Canadian and international workforce.

Additionally, Dr. Breen maintains a longstanding consultancy that has engaged principally in disability-related projects. These have included policy research and development, corporate training, organizational reviews, and the implementation of various strategies to increase the representation and self-disclosure rates of PWDs within governments and industry. Significant projects have been undertaken for the federal government of Canada, the government of the Northwest Territories, Concordia University, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Armenia).

Prior to his return to academia, Dr. Breen owned and operated a healthcare manufacturing company in Winnipeg that designed and produced a variety of mobility aids, with sales across Canada, as well as exports to the United States, Japan, and elsewhere. He later began providing corporate, disability-related training across Canada to governments and the private sector.

Dr. Breen’s background also includes management of a non-profit organization that provided community employment placements and assistance to adults with disabilities. That organization also owned a manufacturing company that supplied products to the mining industry in the Yukon and Alaska. This company was committed to hiring only PWDs. Dr. Breen later took on the role of manager of the newly created Yukon government Office of Workplace Disability Employment Services. During that period, Dr. Breen’s office was instrumental in increasing the self-declared representation rate of PWDs within that government from less than 5% to greater than 12%. At the time, this was the highest declared rate within any of the territorial or provincial governments or the federal government.

In 2013, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal for his community service work. Dr. Breen’s new book, Disability in the Workplace: The Politics of Difference, will be published in May, 2023.

Dr. Breen has a mobility disability as a result of polio.

Board Memberships and Committee Experience

  • Member, President’s Working Committee on Disability Culture, Art and Equity, UBC (2016‐2018)
  • Member, City of Victoria, Accessibility Committee (2015‐2016)
  • Chair, Solutions that Work Committee (Rick Hansen Institute/Yukon Gov’t.) (2007‐2013)
  • Chair, Steering Committee, Six Steps to Success Conference (2011‐2012)
  • Member, Yukon Health and Social Services Council (2005)
  • Board Member, Yukon Wheelchair Recreation Association (1998)
  • Chair, Board of Directors, Yukon Council on Disability (1997)
  • Chair and Founding Board Member, Options for Independence (1995‐1997)
  • Chair, Yukon Human Rights Commission (1994‐1996)
  • Chair, Yukon Health and Social Services Council (1993‐1996)
  • Chair, YG Legislative Inter‐party Committee on Racism and Race Relations (1995)
  • Member, Steering Committee, Yukon Labour Force Development Board (1994)
  • Chair, Therapeutic Riding Association of the Yukon (1994)
  • Member, Steering Committee, Yukon Workplace Literacy Project (1994)
  • Board Member, Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (1992‐1994)
  • Member, Yukon National Access Awareness Week Committee (1992)
  • Member, Canadian National Wheelchair Racquetball Team (1989‐1991)
  • Board Member, Manitoba Employment Development Corporation (1989-1990)
  • Board Member (VP, Finance), Manitoba Wheelchair Sport Association (1990)
  • Founding Board Member, Manitoba Medical Manufacturers Association (1983)
  • President, River Avenue Co‐op Day Nursery Inc., (Winnipeg) (1983)

Education and Credentials

  • PhD (Social Work), University of British Columbia (UBC) (2018)
  • Master of Social Work, UBC (2008)
  • Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy/Classical Studies), University of Manitoba (1978)