The British Columbia Paraplegic Association (BCPA) sought a research partnership to evaluate where its activities should be focused. A survey of members with disabilities of the BCPA included questions on employment and identified three priorities related to employment. These were the need for assistance in finding appropriate work, the impact of policies of government and insurance agencies, and attitudes of employers. This paper examines the social and political environment related to employment following spinal cord injury in British Columbia, Canada. There is no coherent set of goals underlying government employment and income programs in Canada. Incremental development of particular employment and income programs during the 20th century led to a patchwork of policies and programs, which deal with people differently according to the cause of their disability. Federal and provincial governments have attempted to educate employers and reduce barriers to employment of those with disabilities by focusing on anti-discrimination legislation and individual rights (e.g. the Employment Equity Act and the Canadian Human Rights Act). However, people with disabilities face non-accommodating environments, inadequate income support, lack of opportunities and little political influence which stem from an unfair distribution of societal resources, not from discrimination. Joint efforts of the BCPA and other disability organizations are likely to have the most impact on legislative changes.