In advance of Sunday, December 3rd, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, CUPE BC issued the following statement today:
This Sunday is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This Day was first proclaimed by the United Nations in 1992, and “aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.”
CUPE BC works every day with our members to advocate for and support people with disabilities in the workplace and in our communities. And we’re also proud that delegates to our annual Convention two years ago voted to create a Diversity Vice President position on our executive board to represent persons with disabilities.
Along with advocates and activists for persons with disabilities around the world, we are proud to note that on May 15th and 16th, the International Labour Organization and its Bureau for Workers’ Activities (ACTRAV) hosted the ILO Experts Meeting of Persons with Disabilities and Decent Work; the second meeting of its kind in the world and as such, historic, resulting in a milestone for people with disabilities worldwide.
Disability rights and trade union activists who gathered from around the world agreed access to decent work is limited for people with disabilities worldwide and in some nations, nearly non-existent. Civil war conflicts around the world pose particular challenges, resulting in an increased rate of disability and decreased access to employment for those living with disabilities.
CUPE BC President Paul Faoro agrees with other trade union activists around this table that the primary barrier to decent and meaningful employment for people living with disabilities is attitudinal. “We need to change our attitudes towards people with disabilities and recognize they have much to offer in our workplaces and our unions,” said Faoro.
In support of people with disabilities, CUPE BC provided a Human Rights Submission to the new BC NDP Government’s Parliamentary Secretary Ravi Kahlon, recommending that a new Human Rights Commission create “a team, or at the very least, an individual…designated as the Disability Advocate.” Moreover, Faoro encouraged the Commission, to “hire persons with disabilities who will also have a solid understanding of the unique accessibility needs, along with the subtleties of disability related discrimination in supporting people with disabilities who have experienced human rights violations.”
December 3rd, International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Persons with Disabilities as well as a time to reflect on the need for further advancements required by persons with disabilities in order to ensure full inclusion in today’s world. In recognition of persons with disabilities, CUPE BC requests that members challenge our own perceptions of people with disabilities, encouraging Employers to hire people with disabilities into meaningful and decent work.