International Day of Persons with Disabilities: time to take action for a more inclusive society
Montréal, December 2, 2013 – The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse today called on government institutions and organizations in Québec to take action to reduce barriers to integration of disabled persons and promote a more inclusive society for all.
On the eve of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the President of the Commission, Jacques Frémont, noted that Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with Québec’s support in 2010. Governments are therefore required to develop and implement measures, policies and laws to ensure that persons with disabilities can fully exercise their rights. Moreover, the Convention states that “that discrimination against any person on the basis of disability is a violation of the inherent dignity and worth of the human.”
“Public institutions and governments must redouble their efforts to counter discrimination against disabled persons and play a leadership role,” Mr. Frémont said, citing examples where government agencies have not fulfilled their obligations under the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the international Convention.
For example, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) recently said that it would not install an elevator providing wheelchair access at the Vendôme metro station adjacent to the new McGill University Health Centre set to open in 2015, a number of polling stations were not accessible on municipal election day earlier this month, and disabled persons are still severely underrepresented in public organizations subject to Access to Equal Employment Programs.
“The STM’s decision regarding the Vendôme station is incomprehensible and deeply disturbing,” Mr. Frémont said. The STM’s Plan de développement et d’accessibilité universelle 2012-2015 states that Vendôme is one of five priority stations for the installation of an elevator by 2017. Moreover, the STM promised it would comply with accessibility standards when developing new stations, installing new equipment or renovating non-accessible metro stations.
“Refusing to make this metro station fully accessible not only infringes on the right to equality of disabled persons but also negatively affects their right to medical care,” the Commission President said.
A detailed analysis of the files opened by the Commission between the months of April 2011 and July 2013 shows that 31% of all discrimination complaints were based on disability and 16 % of the files were related to access to transportation and public places. There are still many businesses and restaurants that refuse to serve disabled persons, claiming that wheelchairs take up too much space or because the person uses a service dog.
The Enquête québécoise sur les limitations d’activités, les maladies chroniques et le vieillissement 2010-2011 shows that 33% of Quebecers aged 15 and over (who do not live in a long-term care facility or an institution) have an impairment. About 22% have a mild impairment while in 11%, of the cases it is moderate or severe.
“This year’s theme chosen by the United Nations to mark the International Day of Disabled Persons, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all, is an opportunity to take concrete steps to break down barriers to social participation of disabled persons. All of society will benefit from it,” Mr. Frémont said.
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