"Unions must play a role in advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. The National Union will continue to call out barriers in the workplace and in society because accessibility is everyone's responsibility." ― Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (3 Dec. 2019) ― International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is a United Nations (UN) International Day that focuses on promoting the rights and well-being of people with disabilities. The 2019 theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities is promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda.
Rights for people with disabilities in Canada
Prior to 2018, Canada had no legislation beyond the Canadian Human Rights Act covering the rights of people with disabilities. During the debate on the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81), Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his government to support the bill.
In his letter, Brown praised the government’s commitment to an inclusive and accessible Canada, but urged it to go even further, specifically by attaching secure federal funding to the legislation.
In June 2019, the Accessible Canada Act was passed by the House of Commons and received Royal Assent in the same month. Critics of the bill questioned the use of passive language such as “may,” instead of direct, action-based language like “must” or “shall.”
People with disabilities in the workforce
Statistics reveal that people with disabilities are seriously underrepresented in the Canadian workforce. People with disabilities are much more likely to be living on a low income or in poverty. Discrimination against people with disabilities is compounded when they are faced with additional forms of oppression, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, classism and colonialism. The London Free Press cited studies done by the University of Guelph and the University of Waterloo that find college and university graduates with disabilities are more likely to get stuck working part-time, minimum-wage jobs.
More must be done to ensure that people with disabilities are full and equal participants in the workplace and in Canadian society. The removal of all barriers, physical and social, for people with disabilities is necessary to achieving a just and fair nation.
Diversity and inclusion research
To complement the conversation happening around IDPD 2019, NUPGE has published a new paper in the Diversity and Inclusion in Our Unions series. Rights for People with Disabilities delves into the barriers faced by people with disabilities and reaffirms NUPGE’s commitment to building a Canada that’s accessible for everyone.
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