In recognition of International Day of Persons with Disabilities - 2015

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I also rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to pay tribute to International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Mr. Speaker, on December 3, persons with disabilities around the world, United Nations’ representatives, civil society organizers and the general public will come together to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities, or IDPD.

The 2015 event marks nine years since the landmark Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities was approved in New York and more than 20 years of IDPD celebrations. This year, under the theme of “A Day for All”, UN agencies and disability advocacy organizations in Geneva are hosting a series of events to showcase progress made around the world in advancing the rights of people with disabilities and inclusion and to recognize and celebrate persons with disabilities as a manifestation of diversity in our societies.

Persons with disabilities continue to be marginalized in Canadian society. Half of all the discrimination complaints filled in Canada are related to disability, according to a report from the Canadian Human Rights Commission, or the CHRC, released just yesterday. Between 2009 and 2013, 20,615 complaints were filed on the grounds of disability. The data, compiled nationally for the first time, confirms a trend observed at the federal level for several years. Disability-related complaints consistently represent a high proportion of discrimination files. Fully inclusive workplaces and accessible services are not yet a reality for persons with disability in Canada.

In light of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, the CHRC calls for action to fully implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Canada.

The full inclusion and equality of persons with disabilities cannot be achieved without their participation. The CHRC calls on governments, employers and service providers to work with persons with disabilities to build a more equal and inclusive Canada. The number of disability complaints received by human rights commissions and tribunals provides valuable information to measure progress toward an equal and inclusive Canada.

A CHRC study released in 2012 suggests that persons with disabilities face barriers to full and equal education, employment and standards of living. When compared to adults without disabilities, they are half as likely to complete a university degree, are more likely to settle for part-time instead of full-time employment, and have lower annual incomes.

I would like to quote Marie-Claude Landry, who is the chief commissioner of the CHRC. She says — and I quote: “Employers who hire employees with disabilities frequently report that these employees are productive, talented people who make an invaluable contribution to the organization.”

Yesterday, Canada’s most decorated female Paralympian, Chantal Petitclerc, launched a Canadian tour to promote Rio 2016 Paralympic hopefuls — that was on Thursday — saying that the time is now for Canadians of all abilities to get involved in sport. Only three percent of Canadians living with disabilities are active in organized sports. That is a statistic that Chantal is working hard to improve.

Petitclerc, who is a 14-time Paralympic champion in wheelchair racing, wants to spread the message that — and I quote: “Canadians of all abilities have the right to take part in sport and live an active lifestyle… Today is a day that reminds us to continue to advance the important work of improving opportunities, accessibility and investment in parasport.”

With everyone’s support, Canada will lead the way in removing barriers for people to participate in physical activity and sports, from the playground all the way up to the podium.

Petitclerc will visit eight cities on this tour toward Rio 2016. The next stop is on January 19 in Calgary. For more information, visit — donate, and make the dream a reality.