People with disabilities face many barriers in society. What are federal political parties proposing to enhance the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in our society?
Ottawa (15 October 2019) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has released a fact sheet outlining the proposals from the 4 main federal political parties to address the issue of rights for people with disabilities. The fact sheet is based on the National Union's 2019 Federal Election Voter's Guide. The Accessible Canada Act, or Bill C-81, was introduced by the Liberal government in order to enhance the full and equal participation of person with disabilities. It is the first piece of federal accessibility legislation in Canada, but advocacy groups are clear that more needs to be done.
Respecting the Charter
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms makes clear in Section 15 that all Canadians are considered equal regardless of race, religion, national or ethnic origin, colour, sex, age or physical or mental disability. For Section 15 to be realized, and for people with disabilities to be treated as equal, it is clear that Canada needs laws or programs to improve the situation of disadvantaged individuals. This requires governments to proactively invest in programs and initiatives that reduce barriers for persons with disabilities.
Respecting our international obligations
Canada has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This was done in 2010 after consultations with the provinces and territories.
- protects the rights to equality and non-discrimination of persons with disabilities;
- explains the types of actions countries should take to ensure that rights are enjoyed by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others;
- calls on States Parties (countries that have ratified the Convention) to ensure non-discrimination for persons with disabilities in a variety of areas, including freedom of expression and opinion, respect for home and the family, education, health, employment and access to services;
- complements Canada's existing protection for the equality and non-discrimination of persons with disabilities, such as the equality rights that are guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and
- is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which reviews how the Convention is being implemented by all States Parties.
In order for Canada to become a more equitable society, we need to try to achieve an equality of opportunity for all Canadians. This requires identifying where we are failing to meet our obligations and investing to address the shortfalls. Looking at the National Union's fact sheet that outlines the promises in the platforms of the 4 main federal parties, it is apparent that most of the parties at least understand the need to support people with disabilities.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE