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Finally, after a three year delay, Canada has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at UN headquarters in New York. The decision comes on the eve of the Paralympic Games in Vancouver.

This means that the government of Canada is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities,” said Ray Smith, co-chair of CUPE’s Persons with Disabilities National Working Group (PWDNWG ). “CUPE has long been pushing for Canada to ratify the Convention and to take a proactive role in ensuring our full participation in society.”

Canada has approximately 4.4 million persons with disabilities, about 14 per cent of the population.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. Its purpose is “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”

Core obligations under the Convention relate to non-discrimination and reasonable accommodation.

Marie White, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, called the ratification a historic event for Canadians with disabilities. “Ratification of the convention puts an end to the medical model and opens exciting new opportunities for building a more inclusive and accessible Canada.”