For hundreds of thousands of Canadians, living with a disability often means living in poverty. People with disabilities represent 41 per cent of the population living below the poverty line in Canada. And the last few years have highlighted how people with disabilities continue to be disproportionately impacted in employment, health care and social services.
On International Day for Persons with Disabilities, PSAC encourages the federal government to follow through on their Disability Inclusion Action Plan, the first of its kind, which aims to create a barrier-free Canada where people with disabilities have equal opportunities to work and contribute to their communities.
The plan addresses key issues highlighted by the pandemic including the creation of the Canada Disability Benefit, which would provide a direct monthly payment for low-income Canadians with disabilities to ensure an adequate standard of living – a major improvement over the patchwork system in place now.
The Liberals also committed to a comprehensive employment strategy for persons with disabilities, focusing on supports for workers and employers to create inclusive and welcoming workplaces. This strategy is essential because far too many people with disabilities are either unemployed or under-employed, and the pandemic has exacerbated the situation. Workers with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by being pushed out of the workplace.
The plan will also implement the Accessible Canada Act to harmonize accessibility standards across Canada as access to workplaces, services and health care should not depend on where you live. The government also commits to establishing a new Canada Mental Health Transfer to help address vital mental health care needs for Canadians.
The federal plan offers a welcome and long overdue way forward to removing barriers to employment and access to services, which are crucial in creating equal opportunities for people living with disabilities. However, it is vital that the federal government act quickly, provide the necessary resources, and ensure that the plan is led by those most impacted.
What can I do?
- Sign this House of Commons petition in support of the Canada Disability Benefit
- Read and share the Canada Labour Congress’s “Doing Things Differently: A Disability Rights at Work Handbook”
- Reach out to a disability rights activist group in your region and get involved
- Understand the Accessible Canada Act and advocate for accessibility in your workplace