International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2023: Fostering more inclusive workplaces

International Day of Persons with Disabilities, recognized December 3, serves as a crucial platform for promoting awareness and support for disability-related issues. Despite its establishment three decades ago by the United Nations, serious challenges persist in achieving accessibility and safeguarding disability rights, which require proactive changes.

People with disabilities continue to face stigma and underrepresentation in our communities and our workplaces. In Canada, PSAC is at the forefront of efforts to strengthen disability rights for all Canadians and improve legislation that impacts both private and public service workers.

PSAC’s ongoing work advocating for members with disabilities

As part of the Employment Equity Act Review, expected to release its report soon, PSAC proposed numerous enhancements to the Act, aiming to foster better representation of equity groups, including people with disabilities, at federally regulated employers. These recommendations advocate for greater transparency and accountability around hiring, promotion, and retention, along with more effective recourse processes for workers.

PSAC also proposed improvements to the Accessible Canada Act, which was enacted in 2019. The Act mandates workplaces under federal jurisdiction eliminate barriers for persons with disabilities by 2040 through the implementation of accessibility plans and stronger regulations in workplaces.

The recently released Standard on Employment under the Act adopts a progressive social model of disability, going beyond the traditional medical approach. Transforming this standard into a regulation is crucial. Whereas standards are voluntary, regulations become mandatory and give workers a formal complaint or grievance process in the event of violations of the regulation.

These initiatives are critical for persons with disabilities, but they require ongoing funding and commitments by all levels of government to push forward. That’s why PSAC continues to advocate for the rights of workers with disabilities to ensure new legislation includes input from workers with disabilities and unions to ensure their effectiveness and relevance.

PSAC is also part of the consultation process on the federal government’s Restorative Engagement Program which aims to address workplace harm and trauma resulting from harassment, discrimination, and violence through cultural change and empowerment. PSAC is advocating for the program to address the ongoing discrimination against workers with disabilities and inadequate workplace accommodations.

Building inclusive workplaces

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, PSAC renews its commitment fostering an inclusive workplace culture championing the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in workplaces across the country and abroad.

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December 3, 2023