December 3 marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, commemorated by the United Nations (UN) since 1992. On this day we affirm our commitment to continue fighting for disability inclusion at work and in society at large. This year’s theme is leadership and participation of persons with disabilities towards an inclusive, accessible, and sustainable post-pandemic world. To achieve this, the UN calls for an integrated approach.
Canadians living with a disability remain financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which served to exacerbate existing inequities, including employment gaps across for the country for persons with disabilities. Workers with compensable work-related injuries have seen a reduction in benefits while insurance companies continue to prioritize employer rebates ahead worker health and well-being. Workers with disabilities have also been more likely to fall through the cracks in eligibility provisions for government benefits including CERB, established at the beginning of the pandemic.
UFCW Canada works with national disability organizations to lobby all levels of governments and pushes for a strengthened disability inclusion lens in worker supports.
Nothing about this level of disability injustice is an accident or an oversight. The disproportionate negative impacts faced by workers with disabilities throughout this pandemic remain preventable. A strengthened Employment Insurance system is critical to creating a sustainable post-pandemic recovery which provides all workers, including workers with disabilities the necessary supports when they are sick and unable to work.
UFCW Canada is once again taking an active role in the Disability and Work Canada National Conference, led by our partner organization, the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work. UFCW Canada will also be releasing a survey which asks UFCW members across Canada about their disability priorities and needs. We believe that workplace inclusion must begin with accessibility and to achieve this it must remain worker-centered.
On this international day of observance we reaffirm our commitment to eliminating workplace barriers, strengthening collective bargaining protections for workers with disabilities and advocating for a strengthened disability inclusive lens which leaves no one behind.