“John Rae has spent a lifetime effecting change by taking up issues that have been relevant to persons who are disabled and specifically who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted.”
Toronto (30 November 2009) – John Rae, a long-time member and activist with the National Union’s Ontario component, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), has been awarded the City of Toronto’s Access Award for Disability Issues.
The award is intended to honour people or organizations that have made or are making a significant or ongoing contribution, beyond legislated requirements, to the well-being and advancement of people with disabilities.
Up until his retirement from the Ontario provincial government in January 2005, Rae represented the NUPGE on the CLC Disability Rights Working Group for over six years. He was also a member of NUPGE’s Equality Committee on Human Rights and International Solidarity (ECHRIS).
‘Retirement’ for Rae has allowed him to be a full time human rights activist. He work on issues such as making municipal elections more accessible, expanding access to print information in multiple formats, fighting poverty and promoting an improved climate of social justice.
Though known most as a disability rights activist, John prefers to call himself first and foremost a human rights activist.
In announcing the award, the City of Toronto news release notes, “John Rae has spent a lifetime effecting change by taking up issues that have been relevant to persons who are disabled and specifically who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted. John has profoundly helped the causes of persons with disabilities. His dedication to these causes has, in turn, benefited everyone in Toronto.
In his acceptance speech of the award Rae stated, “While I am personally gratified by being recognized with this award, my life over the past 34 years has been about fighting for systemic progress for all persons with disabilities. Unfortunately, today, we spend almost as much of our time fighting to maintain the gains that we have won, and to prevent the introduction of new barriers to our integration into all aspects of community life.”
“In accepting this award, I want to say I would gladly trade it for a few more victories and more progress towards that elusive goal of true inclusion and acceptance in all aspects of life in this city, our province, this affluent country of ours and for all persons with disabilities wherever they live in our wide world.”
“Let's hope that the year 2010 sees Canada, formerly a world leader in the promotion of human rights, finally ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
Commenting on Rae receiving Toronto’s Access Award for Disability Issues, NUPGE National President James Clancy said, “John has shown our union how the principle of full participation can be put into practice and how it can contribute to the development of inclusive societies, in which all voices are heard."
"As we are about to celebrate December 3 – International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the National Union takes great pride tremendous contribution to human rights and social justice in his many, many years of activism.”
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