The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is a UN day recognized annually on December 3. Its aim is to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
Breaking down barriers
People with disabilities face many barriers to fully and equitably participating in society and everyday life.
The Accessible Canada Act defines disability as an impairment or a functional limitation “that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society.”
This reminds us that it is these barriers that create a “handicap” for people, not simply their physical or mental condition. In other words, if societies were designed and built with full accessibility and inclusion, people with disabilities would not be prevented from fully engaging in society.
People with disabilities encounter different types of barriers in their everyday lives. Those include:
1. Attitudinal: Attitudinal barriers can be stereotyping people with disabilities and stem from people’s ideas and assumptions related to disabilities, such as that disability is something that needs to be cured, is a punishment, or that people with disability exists to inspire non-disabled people with their stories.
2. Communication: People with disabilities that effect their hearing, speaking, reading, writing, and/or understanding or who use different ways to communicate experience communication barriers. Some examples of communication barriers include using written messages that are only in small font and using images in PDFs or online without the use of alternate text/formats.
3. Physical: These are obstacles people with disabilities encounter that prevent them from accessing the environment and can include things like inaccessible building/public spaces and lack of accessible transportation.
Because of these barriers, people with disabilities in Canada face greater levels of unemployment, underemployment, poverty, and isolation. The Canadian Survey on Disability found that:
- Among those aged 16 years and older, persons with disabilities earn 21.4% less than persons without disabilities.
- Among Canadians with disabilities aged 15 and older who considered themselves housebound, 17.8% said it was due to the unavailability of specialized transportation.
- Among those who did not use the Internet, 18.2% of persons with disabilities said it was due to the inaccessibility of information and technology communication, including lack of access to a computer, specialized software, or adaptive technologies.
- Of employees with disabilities aged 25 to 64 years, 18.2% reported that it was difficult to change their current job or business due to difficulty in obtaining required supports or accommodations at work.
CEIU is committed to dismantling barriers for our members by providing training, development, and activist opportunities. CEIU is also committed to ensuring our employers removes barriers of all types.
Canada Life – Take Action!
The current problems with Canada Life Insurance have been a barrier that disproportionately affects our members with disabilities. We call on our employer to act. If the Government of Canada is truly committed to a fair and equitable workplace free of barriers and in supporting the needs of members with disabilities, then they will act quickly to resolve the Canada Life fiasco.
PSAC has been organizing rallies across the country calling on the federal government to resolve issues with Canada Life. Rallies have taken place in a number of cities across Canada and more are planned in the coming weeks.
CEIU will continue to advocate for our members with disabilities and we will vigorously defend the gains we have made in ensuring our members with disability have access to barrier free workplaces, equity, and dignity.
Kelli Reid & Neil Wood –Members with Disabilities Representatives, CEIU Human Rights/Race Relations Committee