Fredericton’s ‘Shredder Man’ creating own work in spite of scarce options

Tony Boone, known as the “Shredder Man,” is one of 22,000 New Brunswickers living with an intellectual disability.

After struggling to find work, he started his own business, shredding  paper so he can earn a bit of his own income. He spends two days a week working out of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living office.

“I love working,” Boone said.

Until recently he had been selling his bags of shredded paper to a pet store to be used as lining and bedding in animals’ cages. However, the pet store recently went out of business, leaving him looking for clients he can shred documents for, for a donation.

“They’re going to bring me the paper and I will shred it for them, and before I shred it I’m going to charge them for what I’m doing with it,” Boone said.

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NBACL director of labour market facilitator, Jon Lister says having Boone operate his shredding business in the NBACL office is representative of what he would like to see across the entire province.

“This is a guy who’s a perfect example of somebody whose motivated to work and couldn’t really find a fit, so he created his own opportunity with the support of some of the staff here,” Lister said.

Boone says he would like to build bring in more business so he can work more than two days per week, something Lister would also like to see.

“I’m happy that he has this opportunity —; I’d love to see it grow —; you know so that he’s bringing in more of an income so that he expands his business and he can work every day, like he wants to.”

Lister says there needs to be a shift in the mindset of employers.

“What we try to do is facilitate the proper match between an individual’s interests and abilities and an employers needs.  For example, somebody who is interested in cars and being a mechanic is not going to be successful working in a library, and vice versa. so it’s about facilitating that right match,” Lister said.

There are 500,000 people in Canada living with intellectual disabilities.

While there are many supports available, the NBACL says poverty, income support and unemployment are issues that affect persons with intellectual disabilities.

The NBACL says 70 per cent of people with intellectual disabilities in the province live in poverty or receive income support, and 75 per cent of adults living with an intellectual disability are unemployed.

Lister says those numbers are staggering, and hopes the organization can step in and help people find employment, or find entrepreneurial ways to make money.

The organization is involved in a joint research and innovation project with the department of education and labour around creating self-employment and entrepreneurship model for persons with  an intellectual disability or autism.

“‘Ready, Willing and Able” is a national inclusive hiring initiative that aims to increase the number of people with intellectual disabilities to be more active in the labour market.

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