The United Nations’ theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2022 is “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.” CUPE recognizes the important message behind this theme to promote inclusion, equality and accessibility for the disability community.
As workers and activists, we need to understand that not all disabilities are immediately noticeable – from mental illness to learning differences, diabetes, chronic pain, cognitive dysfunction and much more. CUPE strongly supports the agenda of the disability rights movement. This commitment on the part of our union is heightened given the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Persons with disabilities are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and have a higher mortality rate than the rest of the population. New safety protocols have posed additional challenges and concerns for persons with disabilities, undermining their access to full participation in society. For persons with disabilities who have intersecting identities, such as women, Black, Indigenous, racialized and 2SLGBTQI+ people, the impacts are even worse. We encourage all union leaders to take action to advance disability rights in our workplaces.
What can you do?
- Use December 3rd to educate and advocate for disability justice at work, in your local and in your community.
- Bargain for measures that support disability rights in your collective agreement, including employment equity, duty to accommodate, short and long-term disability coverage and language on mental health, HIV/AIDS and episodic disabilities.
- Carry out accessibility audits to remove barriers in your workplace and union spaces. Get your employer to make this a regular practice.
- Ensure virtual meetings are accessible for everyone by being proactive and asking members about their needs and referring to CUPE’s virtual meetings accessibility checklist.
- Become familiar with the CLC’s publication, “Doing Things Differently: A Disability Rights At Work Handbook”.
- Sign up for CUPE workshops on disability issues.
- Remove barriers and encourage members with disabilities to become involved in union leadership and activities.