December 3rd marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, with a theme for 2011 of “Together for a better world for all.”
Recently there has been much media coverage on the problems of poverty and inequality, not only in developing countries but also here in Canada. Canadians with disabilities and their families live with even grater levels of poverty and exclusion. The United Nations recently advised that approximately 1 billion of the 7 billion people on Earth have a disability.
“In spite of the seminal Obstacles report published by Parliament in 1981, the process of implementing the recommendations after 30 years has been painfully slow,” said Joe Foster, Green Human Rights Critic.
Although Parliament had unanimously agreed to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000, we are still far from that goal.
As we know, key causes of disabilities are poverty, war and the impacts resulting from climate change for which our Federal governments is showing little or no leadership ,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada.
The problem is exacerbated for young people. While most Canadian youth are struggling to find jobs, the problem for disabled youth is magnified. Poverty rates of Canadians with disabilities result in large part from the lack of needed disability supports, which enable access to education, training, employment, and community participation. Canadians with disabilities are too often exiled to inadequate, stigmatizing and ineffective systems of welfare that were never designed to address the real income needs of Canadians with disabilities.
“Lacking access to treatment and support, too many mentally challenged Canadians end up in jails. Instead of building unwanted and unneeded prisons, the government should be addressing poverty as a key national program,” said Foster. ”Canada has signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canadians now expect action not words.”