December 3: United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities | National Union of Public and General Employees

December 3: United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities we want to raise awareness of all the challenges people with disabilities face, expose the discrimination and income inequality that exists, and work to make workplaces and communities fairer. 

Ottawa (03 Dec. 2014) — December 3 marks the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities. According to the UN, there are over 1 billion people living in the world with some form of disability. In Canada, there are 4.5 million people with disabilities — approximately 15 per cent of the population. But even those who have jobs are twice as likely as people who do not have disabilities to be living in poverty. 

Economic barriers are a major reality for people with disabilities, in addition to physical, social and attitudinal barriers

In Canada and around the world, people with disabilities not only face physical, social and attitudinal barriers but also economic barriers. Furthermore, disability is associated with twenty per cent of global poverty. In spite of being the world’s largest minority group, people with disabilities and the issue of disability have remained largely invisible in the mainstream framework of government economic and social policy.

Since 1992, the annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons is designed to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of people with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of people with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities raises awareness about the challenges facing people with disabilities

The observance of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability and the barriers faced by people with disabilities in their struggle to achieve basic economic security.

We know that austerity programs by governments across the country have been a major factor in creating greater income inequality. All Canadians are impacted by austerity and the growing inequality it creates, but Canadians with disabilities are affected the most. They are losing the little economic security they have.

Privatization, cuts to programs and services and even the complete elimination of public services like home care, attendant care, independent living arrangements, provision of technical aids, and accessible public transportation have all made it more difficult for people with disabilities to cope and to fully integrate into all aspects of Canadian society.

Real action to eliminate barriers will go a long way to ending discrimination

“As a society, we need to do more to achieve basic fairness and equality for Canadians with disabilities," said James Clancy, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “It's not just physical and attitudinal barriers that we need to overcome to eliminate the discrimination that persons with disabilities face in Canada.”

“Real action aimed at eliminating the economic barriers faced by people with disabilities will go a long way to ending discrimination. We need to use our common good to ensure Canadians with disabilities have access to quality public services and adequate income security programs. This is the best way to ensure they are able to achieve equal opportunity to participate fully in workplaces and the communities in which they live.”

“I urge NUPGE members across Canada to use the International Day of Persons with Disabilities this year to continue the conversation with your co-workers, family and neighbours about how Canadians and our government can work together to break barriers and open doors to make workplaces, communities and public institutions more inclusive and fair for all Canadians with disabilities.”


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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

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