December 3, 2021 – On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, CNIB is calling on the federal government to use the 44th session of Parliament to support the creation of a barrier-free Canada and illustrate how countries can create inclusive societies for people with disabilities.
CNIB is encouraged that the federal government’s Throne Speech includes a commitment to standing up for diversity and inclusion and growing an economy that works for everyone. However, the Speech did not reference any specific action items for disability inclusion that will lead to an inclusive, accessible, and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.
“We’ve seen the government’s commitments to diversity and inclusion, and we're ready to see these actioned through Ministerial mandate letters that result in specific steps with specific timelines,” says John M. Rafferty, President and CEO of CNIB.
Rafferty is urging the federal government to prioritize the participation and leadership of those with lived experience in realizing a barrier-free Canada.
“The federal government must ensure the inclusion of Canadians with sight loss in the future of workforce development and the implementation of the proposed Disability Inclusion Action Plan,” says Rafferty. “Furthermore, despite it being 2021, Canadians with sight loss are still advocating for electoral reform to ensure every Canadian can vote independently.”
CNIB is also looking to the government to entrench international conventions into Canadian law, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Marrakesh Treaty, which aims to provide better access to printed material for those with sight loss.
According to Statistics Canada, 22 per cent of Canadians have a disability – and Canadians with disabilities are the most disproportionately affected populations in situations of disaster, conflict, or emergency. Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, only 28 per cent of working age Canadians with sight loss were employed full time.
“We know we need to build back better, and CNIB shares the vision of the federal government in realizing that goal,” says Rafferty. “This work is not the sole responsibility of one Minister or one department – it is the collective responsibility of every Minister and every Member of Parliament to ensure a disability lens is applied to the work they undertake on behalf of all people in Canada, including those living with sight loss.”
Since 1918, CNIB’s work with the federal government has been instrumental in our mission to change what it is to be blind today.