Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which aims to  promote awareness and mobilize support for disability rights issues. On this day, the Canadian Labour Congress recognizes a union member with an award for their disability rights activism.

The Carol McGregor Award for Disability Rights Activism is named after an outstanding disability rights activist who passed away in 2006. The Canadian Labour Congress is pleased to recognize Ann Ramsay as this year’s recipient.

Ann, a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, PEI local 1770, was a bus driver for the Western School Board until the 2009 accident that left her paralyzed in the lower half of the body.

She now works as a receptionist at the Summerside office of the English Language School Board. For Ann, accommodation meant retraining, changing jobs and joining a different union local. Working with her union and her employer, Ann learned that when you’re dealing with disability in the workplace, it’s important to have support from other members and staff. Being in a union means not having to face the challenges alone.

After her life-changing accident, Ann embraced the role of disability rights advocate, serving on her division’s Equality Committee, CUPE’s National Persons with Disabilities Working Group and the CLC’s Disability Rights Working Group.

Ann also works to build links between labour and the broader disability community by serving on the board of the PEI Council of People with Disabilities, who gave her their Access Award in 2014, in recognition of her mentoring and volunteer efforts to benefit workers with disabilities.

“An activist with quiet strength and joyful resilience, Ann demonstrates daily the importance of upholding human rights which allow workers with a disability to continue in productive employment,” says Ann’s nominator, who also highlighted Ann’s work educating members, employers and the broader community about disability issues and the duty to accommodate.

Congratulations to Ann and thank you for your work in helping build inclusion in our workplaces and our movement.

Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities

The theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities focuses on the importance of inclusion and the need for access and empowerment for people of all abilities.

The labour movement knows that inclusion matters. That’s why unions work to remove barriers to employment, to make workplaces accessible and to ensure that workers with disabilities receive the accommodations they need to be effective and productive at work.

Inclusion matters within the labour movement as well. The CLC’s Carol McGregor Award recognizes those who have made a significant and lasting impact in the union and/or the community by promoting and defending the rights of persons with disabilities.

The Canadian Labour Congress is committed to working with the federal government to create a meaningful, substantive plan for the realization of disability rights in Canada, as mandated in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which Canada ratified in 2010.

The CLC is encouraged by the mandate letter for the newly appointed Minister of Persons with Disabilities, which references the development of Canadians with Disabilities Act.

In fact, there are a number of concrete measures our new federal government can take to address the income inequality faced by many persons with disabilities.

One important step would be to make the Disability Tax Credit refundable, a measure that would help offset additional costs for persons living with significant disabilities, regardless of the person’s income. We encourage the public to voice their support for this campaign by signing the petition at http://dtcforall.org/.