Workers with disabilities must be included in Canada’s sustainable jobs plan

December 3, 2023

As the global community marks International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Canada’s unions call on the federal government to ensure workers with disabilities are included in the country’s climate plans.

Originally created by the UN, this year’s International Day for Persons with Disabilities urges unity in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with, and by persons with disabilities.

“As the federal government works to pass the Sustainable Jobs Act and make workers a key part of its climate plans, we urge them to also meaningfully include workers with disabilities,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Canada’s shift to net zero must be built around high-quality unionized jobs, which must be available to all workers. People with disabilities deserve equal access to these high-quality jobs, that offer decent pay and benefits. Canada’s sustainable jobs plan must be equitable, and inclusive.”

Earlier this year, the federal government announced Bill C-50, the Sustainable Jobs Act. Bill C-50 recognizes the vital importance of unions, industry, and governments working together to ensure that workers are the focus of a sustainable path to a net-zero economy. It also includes a commitment to address barriers to employment for persons with disabilities in Canada as part of the transition. Once implemented, this legislation will put Canada at the forefront of the global energy shift.     

“Climate change is the defining crisis of our time and its workers who will move us toward a truly sustainable economy. Workers have the expertise to boost our economy by making Canada a leader in the green energy transition,” said Lily Chang, Secretary-Treasurer of the CLC. “Persons with disabilities have a right to work on an equal basis with others, but systemic barriers deprive many from meaningful access to decent work. A sustainable future is only achievable if workers—all workers—are at the heart of our climate plans.”

To date, Canadian governments have struggled to adequately integrate a disability lens into climate policies, denying people with disabilities meaningful socio-economic inclusion in our low-carbon future. Workers with disabilities are more likely to face systemic discrimination in recruitment, training and retention, and are often unable to secure appropriate workplace accommodation. 

According to the United Nations, people with disabilities are also disproportionately impacted by climate change. The federal government must seize the opportunity to create an inclusive, worker-centered low-carbon economy, that provides access to high-quality, barrier-free jobs to all. Find out more about the CLC’s worker-powered plan to create a #FutureThatWorks.

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