People with disabilities have the fundamental human right to full and equal access to our society. They should be able to access services, employment and housing, and to participate fully in public life. As such, we must continue to address the barriers to inclusion that persons with disabilities face.
One in seven people in Ontario have been identified as a person with a disability. Over the next 20 years, that number will rise as our population ages.
Nearly half of all adults who have a disability are not in the workforce because of the barriers they face. Respect for the dignity of persons with disabilities is the key to preventing and removing barriers, as indicated by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. This includes respect for self-worth, individuality, privacy, confidentiality, comfort and independence of persons with disabilities.
We must challenge ourselves as a province to improve employment opportunities and career pathways that lead to stable, well-paying employment for people with disabilities. New Democrats will continue to advocate for legislation that will advance equality for workers with disabilities and educates Ontarians about accessibility rights and relevant legislation, such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). I commend inclusive workplaces across the province that give people with disabilities an opportunity to work.
On behalf of Ontario’s New Democrats, I am proud to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and recognize the efforts of the organizations who work tirelessly to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.