NEWS: NDP demands Canada ratify U.N. convention on rights of persons with disabilities

OTTAWA and NEW YORK - NDP Critic for Persons with Disabilities Peter Julian and Foreign Affairs and International Development Critic Alexa McDonough today called on the federal Conservatives to stop turning their backs on Canadians living with disabilities and ratify the United Nations Covenant on the Rights and Dignity of People with Disabilities as soon as possible.

“Disabilities groups in Canada played a leading role in the drafting of the new international covenant on the rights and dignity of people with disabilities which was adopted last December by the UN general assembly. Canada should have been the first country to ratify this groundbreaking covenant. Yet this government is refusing to ratify this important UN Convention and take real action to end exclusion,” said Julian during today’s Question Period.

“On January 4 in my home riding of Halifax, a well-attended and highly informed town hall meeting was held to consider how citizens across this country can make a positive contribution to ensure that Canada will now step up to the plate and distinguish itself by being the first nation to ratify the covenant,” said McDonough. “Canadians want their federal government to show leadership and sign on as soon as possible. The covenant will only come into force after twenty countries have ratified.”

“Twenty-six million persons with intellectual disabilities live on less than one dollar a day. Fifty per cent of the homeless in our cities are Canadians with disabilities. And, so are 40 per cent of those who must go to food banks to eat!” said Julian. “Successive Liberal and Conservative governments have paid only lip service to the growing concerns and needs of the disability community. They have failed to develop and implement a long-term action plan that would address the lack of support, the growing poverty and the high unemployment in this community. They have failed to end the shameful exclusion of five million of our fellow Canadians.”

“Measures that have been taken so far were piecemeal and largely tax related. Only a small minority of Canadians with disabilities were able to take advantage of these tax credits,” said McDonough. “We must take real action to ensure fairness for the 15 per cent of the Canadians whose contribution to the welfare and richness of Canada is hardly recognized and who are being denied the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest.”