In recognition of International Day of Persons with Disabilities

I rise today on behalf of the Liberal caucus to pay tribute to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. December 3 of each year since 1992 has been marked as the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It is expected — as the Minister of Health and Social Services pointed out — that 10 to 15 percent of the world’s population lives with some form of visible or invisible disability. In the world’s poorest countries, that number rises to 20 percent. Unfortunately, the cycle of poverty won’t be broken any time soon as the majority of children with disabilities in developing nations do not attend school.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was set up to: “…promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.” Canada was a signatory in 2007 and later ratified the agreement in 2010. The CRPD outlines the rights of persons with disabilities and what these countries are expected to do to ensure equality and inclusion.

The 2014 theme is “Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology” and looks at ways technology can make life easier for those with disabilities. Canada is a country that prides itself on being a fair and just society but we still have some work to do for our disabled community, specifically in the workforce and in the education system.

Income for disabled men aged 15 to 64 averages out to be $9,557 less than adult men in the same age group who do not have disabilities. Similarly, women between the ages of 15 and 64 earn $8,853 less than their counterparts without disabilities.

Only 69 percent of small businesses have ever hired a person with disabilities despite studies that show that they tend to be loyal and hardworking employees. A substantial education gap also exists, as the percentage of people with disabilities who get degrees is roughly half of their non-disabled counterparts.

Mr. Speaker, we will take a moment to recognize the International Day for Persons with Disabilities and I urge the House to join me in committing to make Yukon a more accessible place for everyone who lives here.