BURNABY—Each year on December 3, the United Nations announces a new theme in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. CUPE British Columbia joins with members with disabilities in celebrating and applauding this year’s theme of “empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.”
To honour and celebrate members with disabilities, CUPE BC encourages CUPE locals and district councils to recognize the unique needs and challenges of members with disabilities by encouraging them to form workers with disabilities working groups or committees. Workers with disabilities need a platform from which to educate and lobby on behalf of their constituents.
Moreover, CUPE BC encourages locals to ensure that the accessibility needs of members with disabilities are addressed at conventions, conferences and educational events. Unless their accessibility needs are addressed, members with disabilities will continue to experience exclusion and disempowerment in the labour movement.
CUPE BC applauds the provincial government for its leadership in instituting legislative changes that benefit citizens with disabilities. The new Community Benefits Agreement BC will not only ensure that public infrastructure jobs help British Columbians from equity-seeking groups, including persons with disabilities, achieve improved access to meaningful employment; these jobs will also help persons with disabilities realize access to decent pay.
As part of its Early Learning and Child Care agreement with the federal government, the province has also committed to an ambitious plan of providing improved access to inclusive childcare for children with disabilities. Thanks to a three-year, $30-million investment, this plan will help children with disabilities become future leaders and activists in the labour movement.
On October 26 this year, the provincial government introduced legislation that will realize amendments to the BC Human Rights Code to establish a human rights commission in British Columbia. Nearly half of all human rights complaints each year are launched by people with disabilities. Under the amended Code, the new Human Rights Commission will provide improved access to legislative rights for persons with disabilities.
These real and immediate changes on behalf of the province’s citizens with disabilities bring us one step closer to the dream of ensuring inclusiveness and equality, both of which will help empower our members with disabilities to fully participate in our society and in our labour movement.