Since 1992, the world has been commemorating December 3 as International Day of Persons with Disabilities. While we annually observe this day to promote the human rights of people with disabilities, we need to work daily on resolving the systemic inequities they experience. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is committed to an inclusive society where people with disabilities participate and thrive fully and in all aspects.
COVID-19 has exposed the inequities that have always existed for people with disabilities in our society. The effects of the pandemic have also been disproportionately experienced by people with disabilities. For example, Statistics Canada reports, many people with disabilities were employed in industries that were hardest hit by the initial economic lockdowns implemented in 2020.
As a vulnerable group protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code, people with disabilities have the right to receive the full and equal benefit of any strategy, policy or program enacted as a COVID-19 recovery measure. It is timely that we ensure that people and communities most burdened by the pandemic are not sidelined by recovery programs that do not intentionally include them. For recovery to benefit everyone equitably, the voices of the people most affected, including people with disabilities, must be heard every step of the way.
The OHRC invites all Ontarians to read its COVID-19 recovery policy statement and join us as we work to combat all forms of discrimination and systemic barriers for people with disabilities.