Darryl Flasch – Winner of the 2020 Carol McGregor CLC Disability Rights Award

Every year on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Canadian Labour Congress will recognize a union member for their disability rights activism.

This award is named in honour of Carol McGregor, an outstanding disability rights activist, member of BCGEU/NUPGE and the CLC Disability Rights Working Group―and who was much loved by all those who worked with her. Carol passed away in 2006.

In 2020, the award recognized the lifetime achievements of Darryl Flasch, a member of the British Columbia Government and Services Employees Union (BCGEU/NUPGE). As an active trade unionist since 1990, Darryl has dedicated 30 years of his life to removing barriers and ensuring the inclusion of workers with disabilities in his workplace and in the labour movement. He also worked tirelessly to advocate for more tools and resources within his union, including accessibility audits, in order to build a labour movement and communities that are inclusive of all abilities.

Workers with disabilities must help shape Canada’s Disability Inclusion Strategy

Canada’s unions are marking December 3 – the International Day for Persons with Disabilities –by calling on the federal government to include persons with disabilities in Canada’s economic recovery strategy.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s unions have collaborated with disability rights coalitions like the Include Me Campaign, to highlight the unique challenges and barriers faced by persons with disabilities during this health crisis.

“We know that the current health crisis has intensified the discrimination and stigma towards workers with disabilities. Hard-won workplace accommodations are at risk when the office becomes virtual, and workers with disabilities are at a greater risk of being laid off or having their jobs furloughed,” said Larry Rousseau, CLC Executive Vice-President.

“It’s critical that we shine a light on the challenges faced by persons with disabilities during this pandemic, especially those whose experiences are amplified by multiple marginalized identities including women, Indigenous and racialized people, and those in the LGBTQ2SI community.”

Even before the pandemic, unemployment rates ranged between 35 per cent for people with ‘mild’ disabilities to 74 per cent for people with ‘severe’ disabilities. High levels of poverty and unemployment have only worsened for persons with disabilities in the midst of this crisis.

Meanwhile, the reliance on affordable housing, income and health care supports is greater than ever – programs for which funding and availability already vary greatly across the country.

The federal government’s throne speech earlier this fall highlighted many new and important initiatives to help address the disproportionate impacts of this crisis on persons with disabilities. This included a new Disability Inclusion Plan, which would feature:

  • A new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors;
  • A robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities; and
  • A better process to determine eligibility for government disability programs and benefits.

“While we welcome the new disability inclusion strategy, we are also calling for the voices of workers with disabilities and their unions to be at the forefront,” added Rousseau.

“These discussions will guide the design and implementation of this strategy and must ensure that it adequately addresses the barriers to employment and economic security that workers with disabilities face.”

The federal government can help alleviate anxiety by investing in jobs and collaborating with unions on initiatives like a robust employment strategy for persons with disabilities, making long-term care part of public health care, supporting a child care strategy, and implementing national pharmacare.

Learn more about the CLC’s Forward Together campaign at canadianplan.ca.

Canada’s unions launch nation’s first-ever virtual lobby week

OTTAWA – Hundreds of workers from communities across Canada are meeting virtually with their MPs this week, part of the country’s first-ever national Action Week, organized by Canada’s unions.

Participants will be calling on elected representatives to push for federal investments towards job creation, health care and child care, among other necessary programs. Over 200 meetings are scheduled.

“The pandemic continues to disrupt our lives in a myriad of ways. Our governments have an integral role in making sure that workers and their families get through this ongoing crisis,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “Workers know they have to advocate for solutions that centre their experiences and which address the systemic gaps this pandemic has revealed. Right now, the only way to do that is virtually and workers are stepping up in a significant way to do what it takes to be heard,” said Yussuff.

Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government to disaster-proof the economy.  This includes committing to shovel-ready projects that create stable, well-paying jobs, as well as investing in job training for workers, particularly those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including racialized workers, women, and people with disabilities. Unions are urging the government to start by implementing its promised $15 minimum wage in federally regulated workplaces.

The pandemic has also demonstrated the need for a more resilient and comprehensive public health care system. Canada’s unions have long called for the implementation of single-payer, universal pharmacare, particularly urgent now considering that millions of people in Canada have lost access to drug benefits and are struggling to pay for their prescription medications.

“There is no going back to business as usual,” said Yussuff. “On the contrary, we’ve managed to weather this pandemic better than some countries by working together and taking care of one another. MPs will be hearing directly from their own constituents this week on how they can continue to support working people and their families going forward.”

To arrange an interview, please contact:
CLC Media Relations
media@clcctc.ca
613-526-7426