Resolution 2002.03 Accessibility of the Workplace for Persons With Disabilities

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Community Life (shared with Education and Health)
Ontario Provincial Council

Whereas,     One in six Canadians has a disability; and

Whereas,     Canadians with disabilities have a higher rate of unemployment than do Canadians without disabilities; and

Whereas,     Laws exist to protect Canadians with disabilities, and employers, unions, co-workers and the public have an obligation to accommodate persons with disabilities in the workplace; therefore, be it

Resolved,     That the national council of The Catholic Women's League of Canada, in 82nd national convention assembled, encourage members to write  letters to:

  1. municipal and regional councils and chambers of commerce,
  2. provincial and territorial ministers of citizenship and municipal affairs and housing, and
  3. the federal minister of Human Resources Development Canada to promote available programs to achieve barrier-free workplaces for persons with disabilities, as required by existing laws.

BRIEF     Accessibility of the Workplace for Persons with Disabilities

Approximately 4.2 million Canadians - one in six - have a disability.1

People with disabilities hold a variety of jobs and have a great deal to offer. Some problems faced by persons with disabilities stem not from the disabilities but from barriers that impede full contribution to the job. Physical and attitudinal barriers still exist in many workplaces. Sometimes all that is needed is a change in the job description, a shift of work assignments or even a shifting of furniture in the workplace so that a person can perform the essential duties of the job.

The Statistics Canada Health Activity Limitation Survey of 1991 reports that "Only 48 per cent of disabled Canadians between the ages of 15 and 64 have either full - or part-time job, compared to 73 per cent of Canadians without disabilities. Moreover, 54 per cent of people with disabilities have annual individual incomes of $15,000 or less."2

Amendments to the Canadians Human Rights Act in 1998 "sent a clear message to employers and organizations: people with disabilities are full members of society. If accommodation is necessary for them to participate equally, it must be provided."3

"Existing case law makes it clear that accommodation, up to undue hardship, it is a right and not a privilege."Recently enacted amendments are important because they specify that undue hardship is to be measured against health, safety and cost, and means more than minimal financial strain.5

Laws exist that address this problem: Canadian Human Rights Act and Employment Equity Act. These acts are often misunderstood or their implementation falls short of their goal of facilitating the inclusion of employees with disabilities into the workplace.

Accommodation is not a courtesy - it is the law! Ability, not disability, is what really counts.



  1. "Working Together for Full Citizenship." Future Directions, Human Resources Development Canada. (Nov. 2001) p.1
  2. "Disability," Canadian Human Rights Commission.  (Nov. 2001), p. 3.
  3. Ibid., p.1.
  4. Ibid., p.1.
  5. Ibid., p.1.