Canada’s unions are marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities with calls for concrete action to promote economic security, employment and inclusion for persons with disabilities in Canada.
The federal government announced this week that it was beginning consultations around signing the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Optional Protocol would allow individuals in Canada who believe their rights under the Convention have been violated to register complaints with the United Nations.
Unions are also calling for these rights to be enshrined in Canadian legislation. The CLC recently participated in government consultations for new federal legislation on accessibility. Not surprisingly, employment was the top issue identified in these consultations.
“We would like this legislation to take a broad, rights-based approach that not only improves accessibility, but also promotes inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian life,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.
The CLC has a long history of advocating for Canadians living with disabilities and for injured workers, and of advocating for strong health and safety legislation and regulations that make all workers safer. Canada’s unions are also working to improve labour force access for Canadians with disabilities and injured workers.
Earlier this year, the UN reviewed Canada’s compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and made concrete recommendations for action, including the need for a policy on employment for persons with disabilities and strategies to ensure access to decent work.
“We are looking forward to the promised federal accessibility legislation,” said Yussuff. “We hope that it provides a clear path to address the many barriers to inclusion that people with disabilities and deaf and hard-of-hearing persons face,” he added.
This past May, delegates to the CLC triennial convention voted to establish the CLC’s priorities for the next three years. Those priorities include urging the federal government to make the disability tax credit refundable, review and revise the CPP disability program in order to increase access and benefit amounts, and extend the CPP disability drop-out provisions to the enhanced retirement benefit.