Statement - Disability inclusion essential to Canada’s recovery

December 3, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

Today, as we mark the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, it is an opportunity for all Canadians to reaffirm our commitment to inclusion and equality by reflecting on how we can eliminate barriers for people with disabilities.

This past year has been difficult for everyone. The pandemic has widened the circle of vulnerability, exposed existing inequalities and further entrenched many of the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society.

People with disabilities face barriers that extend well beyond a physical environment — barriers that stand in the way of access to health care, to economic security, to information, to education, and to employment.

More than 6 million people in Canada have a disability. Many people’s disabilities are not visible or apparent. As Canada endeavors to build back better, it is essential that the diverse needs, the diverse voices, and the human rights of people with disabilities — and their families and caregivers — be front and centre. Canada must design its responses and recovery efforts from an intersectional, inclusive and human rights-based perspective.

Businesses and organizations have an opportunity to be leaders and to embrace new and more inclusive ways of doing business. This includes taking steps to ensure that their workplaces and services are fully accessible for all.

From physical accessibility in public spaces, to the accessibility of information and virtual tools, to the dismantling of negative attitudes and stigma, we can all contribute to eliminating the barriers that stand in people’s way. Because accessibility is not only a means to full participation; it is a human right.

This next phase of COVID recovery matters the most. History will judge Canada on how we acted at this critical moment. No one can be left behind. A better normal depends on all of us being included.

In a year defined by uncertainty, one thing we know for sure: when everyone can participate, everyone benefits.

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