International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD): Celebrating Yes! But What?

For Immediate Release

December 2, 2009

Now is one of the best times to be living with a disability and also one of the most challenging.

Since 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP), people with disabilities have witnessed steady progress in removing barriers to the full and equal participation of people living with physical and mental impairments. Since IYPD, people with disabilities have improved their status and role in society in remarkable ways. We are now a visible presence in our communities, we have taken greater control of our lives, our human rights have been affirmed, new services have been developed and the expectation now is that we can and should live as full and equal citizens.

But, it is also one of the most challenging times to be living with a disability. Accessibility is threatened by the unchecked development of new barriers and an increasingly negative attitude toward human rights remedies that remove barriers. For example:

New technology, which was once seen as a liberator for people with disabilities, is now often eroding access and even making previously usable items such as stoves, microwaves, and cell phones inaccessible. Mechanisms for barrier removal and access to justice are currently under attack. The Harper Government has dismantled the Court Challenges Program which assisted CCD to fight a seven year legal battle over VIA Rail’s purchase of inaccessible passenger rail cars. Many other examples can be cited.

Canadians with disabilities have some fundamental questions:

  • Why are we still fighting the same battles we began 30 years ago?
  • Why are new barriers being created?
  • Why have we not achieved more?
  • Why is it that too frequently it is our governments that impede reform?
  • Why do we disproportionately live in poverty?

Our Hope for the Future

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Canada will ratify soon, sends a message of hope to people with disabilities. Ratification of the CRPD will require our governments to develop an implementation plan for bringing Canada into compliance with this new international law. Canadians with disabilities know that change does not occur overnight but will not accept inaction or regression. It is time to use new tools and new knowledge to accelerate the achievement of a more Inclusive and Accessible Canada.


For More Information:

Marie White, Chairperson - 709-739-8233
Laurie Beachell, National Coordinator - 204-947-0303