Canada’s unions call for targeted support for persons with disabilities

June 1, 2020

The Canadian Labour Congress is calling on the federal government to increase financial supports and targeted employment strategies for persons with disabilities as a key aspect of Canada’s economic recovery plan.

Persons with disabilities – especially those living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities – face high unemployment rates and high levels of poverty and need additional support during the COVID-19 crisis and after.

“The current health crisis has intensified the discrimination and stigma workers with disabilities were already facing,” said Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Hard-won workplace accommodations are at risk when the office becomes virtual, and workers with disabilities are at a greater risk of being laid off or having their jobs furloughed.”

The Canadian Labour Congress is marking National AccessAbility Week to shine a light on the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, and those whose experiences are amplified by multiple marginalized identities, including being a woman, Indigenous, racialized and 2SLGBTQI, et al.

Canada’s unions have joined with disability rights organizations in the Include Me coalition, calling for a number of priorities to protect the health and safety and provide care and support to persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government has yet to announce specific targeted income supports for persons with disabilities to navigate their unique financial impact of this crisis.

Unemployment rates are between 35 per cent for people with ‘mild’ disabilities and 74 per cent for people with ‘severe’ disabilities. High levels of poverty and unemployment means more reliance on affordable housing, income and health care supports – programs whose funding and availability vary greatly across the country.

“We are working together to ensure that Canada’s response to this crisis leaves no one behind,” said Rousseau. “We need to see targeted income supports for persons with disabilities to address the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and, in the longer-term, recovery planning must make accessibility and inclusion a core priority.”

For more information on on-going advocacy efforts from disability related organizations in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out the Include Me coalition’s COVID-19 resource centre.

National AccessAbility Week was first introduced in 2019 after the implementation of the Accessible Canada Act, learn more about the history of the week here.

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