International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Today (December 3) is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as first proclaimed by the United Nations in 1992. It is an important day for us to reflect on what still must be done to end stigma and achieve full equality and inclusion for people with disabilities in our workplaces and society at large.
Estimates are that approximately one in seven Canadians lives with a disability, whether visible or invisible. However, when accommodated, most people with a disability are more than capable of being fully involved as workers, family members, and community members.
Given that the rights to equality for people with disabilities have been specifically enshrined in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, this should be possible. However, Canadians with disabilities continue to face significant barriers accessing training, social services, transportation, housing and employment. They are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as other Canadians. And they are too often considered an afterthought by governments, employers, community groups, and even, regrettably, by unions, in carrying out their day-to-day business.
To top it off, the Harper government has cut funding for 18 national disability organizations and their new Veterans’ Charter will put our veterans with the most severe disabilities at risk of losing their pensions.
On December 3, we recommit to growing our understanding and fighting barriers and stigma experienced by people living with all kinds of disabilities. And we will continue to promote inclusion and access so everyone has the opportunity to contribute their skills and their voices to our union, our workplaces and our communities.
MoveUP Human Rights Committee Chair