TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Dec. 2, 2011) – December 3, marks the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities. According to the United Nations, persons with disabilities make up an estimated 15 percent of the world’s population and a quarter of the global population is directly affected by disability, as care-givers or family members.
Persons with disabilities continue to face many barriers and challenges that prevent them from fully contributing to society and the economy. The barriers they face in their workplaces and communities are often exacerbated by public prejudices, systemic discrimination and inadequate public funding for appropriate accommodations. In Ontario, the negative impact of these barriers on persons with disabilities and their families is significant.
According to the 2009-2010 Annual Report of the Canada-Ontario Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities:
“A disproportionately high number of people with disabilities in Ontario, as in the rest of the country, have no employment earnings. In 2008, 62% of people with disabilities in Ontario reported employment earnings, compared with 86% of people without disabilities. For those who work, average earnings are lower among people with disabilities as compared to the rest of the population.”
While these statistics illustrate the economic impact of a failure to accommodate people of all types of ability, there are many invisible costs that are beyond measurement.
“Too often, persons with disabilities are pushed to the margins of our economy and they are among the most vulnerable during an economic down-turn. Sending a message that people with disabilities have less value is simply unacceptable in Ontario,” said OFL President Sid Ryan. “Ontarians with disabilities, including injured workers, have told the McGuinty government what needs to be done to create equity and justice for all, but they are still waiting for action.”
The OFL continues to work closely with organizations such as Accessibilities for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA Alliance), the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Action Coalition and the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG), among others, to ensure that Ontario becomes a province that is accessible, supportive and welcoming to all.
Some of the concrete actions that the OFL is demanding from the Ontario government include:
- Strengthen the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005;
- Develop new Accessibility Standards;
- Implement key recommendations of the 2010 Charles Beer AODA Independent Review;
- Ensure that taxpayers’ money is never used to create or sustain disability barriers;
- Ensure the accessibility of provincial and municipal buildings, services and elections;
- Review all Ontario laws for accessible barriers;
- Ensure justice, fair compensation and full inflation protection for all injured workers; and
- Eliminate poverty for any person with a disability.
In an effort to divert the impact of the global economic recession away from the financial institutions that created it and onto the general population, many governments at every level are embracing a so-called “austerity” agenda that includes massive public sector layoffs and deep cuts to public services. These cuts will have a devastating impact on persons with disabilities and government sponsored accessibility initiatives. In Ontario, the McGuinty government’s appointment of Don Drummond as Chair of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services gives cause for great concern that such cuts will be central to the Commission’s recommendations to the Minister of Finance for the 2012 Budget. Drummond’s history, public comments and potent links to private health care interests indicate a strong bias in favour of privatization and public service funding cuts.
“Persons with disabilities and injured workers shouldn’t fall victim to layoffs and public service cuts,” said OFL Executive Vice-President Terry Downey. “Instead of pandering to banks and private corporations, the McGuinty government needs to protect the interests of Ontarians and ensure that every person, regardless of ability, can play a role in our society and our economy.”
Ontario Federation of Labour
416-443-7665 or mobile: 416-707-0349