International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The International Day for Disabled Persons is held every December 3rd, and it provides an opportunity to both celebrate the many accomplishments of people with disabilities, as well as to reflect on the many barriers and layers of discrimination they face everyday. In CUPE Ontario we use this day to renew our commitment to fight for full accessibility, inclusion and equity – in our work places and in our communities.

Today we also recognize all the CUPE Ontario members who work tirelessly to support people with disabilities. Your work means the difference between social isolation and the possibility of living a life to it’s full potential.

Today in Ontario, 1.85 million people live with some form of disability – this is one in seven Ontarians. As our population ages, this number continues to grow.

People with disabilities face discrimination, high unemployment and underemployment, high rates of poverty, and barriers to accessing many services. Workers with disabilities continue to face barriers to achieving appropriate accommodation measures and face barriers to hiring and promotion.

Making things worse, the Ford government has just announced reforms to the Ontario Disability Support Programme (ODSP) that, if passed, will narrow the definition of disability to make it harder for people with disabilities to qualify for the income support they need. We cannot let this happen.

As a fundamental principle of human rights, people with disabilities must be able to fully participate in all aspects of our society.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires the province to become fully barrier free by 2025. With only seven years to go – Ontario is far behind where it needs to be, and many disability rights activists are very concerned that the new Ford government is not prioritizing this legal requirement.

To raise awareness of this important issue, CUPE Ontario’s Worker’s with Disabilities committee is leading a social media campaign to highlight all the various barriers people face in their day-to-day lives.

The committee is asking volunteers to photograph all the barriers they come across and then post them to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #AODAfail. A photo is worth 1000 words – thousands of photos will create the pressure needed to ensure the provincial government fulfils its own law and makes Ontario barrier free by 2025.

On this International Day for Disabled Persons we call on all of our leaders and activists to join the campaign and encourage all our members to do the same.