Ingenuity of people with disabilities continues to shape Canada

December 1, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Charlotte-Anne Malischewski, Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and Michael Gottheil, Accessibility Commissioner of Canada, issue the following joint statement:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission joins people in Canada and around the world in celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Those of us with disabilities continue to have to assert our rights every single day, in big ways and seemingly small ones. We continue to have to push for basic rights such as access to adequate housing, access to employment, access to education, and access to healthcare.

People with disabilities should not have to fight for their rights. These fundamental human rights should be protected and enshrined in Canadian law to ensure that everyone in Canada can live the life of their choosing, free of barriers.

For decades, through unique contributions and tireless advocacy, people with disabilities have been shaping this country and bringing us closer to a truly inclusive and accessible Canada for all. It was these efforts that spurred the Accessible Canada Act into reality. And it will be the same tireless efforts that will spur the regulations into force and move us all towards a barrier-free Canada for all.

But the reality remains that for many of us with disabilities, systemic barriers stand in the way of us fully participating in society. Some of us are living in situations of social and economic disadvantage at disproportionate rates.

A lot of this comes down to basic social and economic rights. These are the most fundamental human rights a person can have. And they need to be protected and enshrined in Canadian law to ensure that everyone in Canada can live the life of their choosing, free of barriers.

Eliminating barriers is key to Canada’s future prosperity. And those of us with disabilities have the skills, creativity and insight to help Canada be a competitive and prosperous nation and meet the challenges of the next century.

Today is about celebrating independence and interdependence. People with disabilities know that being able to do everything on one’s own without collaborating with others is not the ultimate mark of success. Rather, those of us with disabilities want to be part of the team, and sometimes even lead it. So come work with us. Let’s build an inclusive, barrier-free Canada, together.

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