Ottawa – January 11, 2020 – UFCW Canada activists recently participated in the Disability and Work in Canada Conference, held in Ottawa to coincide with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The two-day conference was presented by the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP), the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW), the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG), and InclusionNL. Activists engaged in the Federal Policy Forum on Inclusion, the Do the Rights Thing: National Human Rights Policy Forum, and the Disability and Work Canada Strategy in Action Forum. Each forum provided key take-aways on barriers to employment and inclusion for persons with disabilities in Canada. They also pointed to the diversity of lived experiences among persons with disabilities.
According to the latest Statistics Canada Survey on disabilities, 59 percent of working age adults with disabilities are employed, compared to 80 percent of adults without disabilities. Tragically, there are a total of 645,000 individuals with disabilities who have the potential to work but are not working.
As part of the conference, participants heard from advocates, family members, and social service organizations about the struggles facing persons with disabilities. Each forum, meanwhile, was replete with breakout sessions and opportunities to contribute insight on why the unemployment situation is so pervasive and why it parallels the poverty cycle in Canada. Activists learned that barriers such as a lack of public transportation, inaccessible technology in the hiring process, and claw backs to government benefits when employment is retained all preclude opportunities for gainful employment. Furthermore, unemployment leads to food scarcity, which can spiral into housing insecurity and even homelessness.
During the conference, UFCW Canada representatives joined advocates in sharing insights regarding inclusion in the workplace and the hiring process and supporting strategies to create “disability-confident” workplaces. Participants also heard from Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion.
“In 2020, UFCW will continue to strengthen inclusion efforts and profile disability issues within the communities we serve,” says Emmanuelle Lopez, UFCW Canada National Co-ordinator for Human Rights, Equity, and Diversity. “We look forward to carrying out this important work as part of our efforts to make UFCW a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion,” she adds.
To learn more about UFCW Canada’s work on disability rights, visit our union’s Disability Rights in the Workplace webpage.