October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an opportunity to highlight the benefits of hiring persons with disabilities and the importance of disability-inclusive workplace policies.
When discussing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, disability must be part of the conversation. Persons with disabilities are regularly discriminated against in hiring decisions, when they have many valuable skills to contribute to the workforce.
For many Canadians, employment represents independence, dignity, and purpose. Persons with disabilities deserve to be treated with the same respect as persons without disabilities and have the same opportunities to learn, grow, and provide value to their workplace.
Equal treatment in employment without discrimination is a human right. Individually and collectively, we each have a responsibility to fight for this right and put an end to this discrimination. We must make accommodations to our workplaces that are inclusive of persons with disabilities and enable them to thrive. And, similarly to the education opportunities that are in place for persons without disabilities, it is important to ensure there are many opportunities available in our society to prepare persons with disabilities for the workforce.
OPSEU/SEFPO’s Disabilities Rights Caucus has been a strong voice in fighting for the need for full accessibility in buildings, communications and technology. Removing barriers not only allows people with disabilities to feel included, but is also a benefit to everyone. For example, automatic doors help reduce the presence of COVID-19 on surfaces.
OPSEU/SEFPO offers an annual scholarship of $1,500 in the memory of Carol McGregor, a long-time union activist on disability rights issues, who died in 2006. This scholarship is open to dependents of OPSEU/SEFPO members in good standing who have a visible or invisible disability and are pursuing post-secondary education at a university, community college or trades program. Extra consideration will be given to students who have participated in a collective action or community organizing on disability or human rights issues.
Click here to find out more about this scholarship.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, First Vice-President/Treasurer
Janet Heyman, Disability Rights Caucus co-chair
Susan Fournier, Disability Rights Caucus co-chair