CCDI prepares to celebrate Disability Employment Awareness Month in Calgary – is your business accessible?

As you may be aware, Calgary MP Kent Hehr is the new minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. The appointment comes as Calgary city council gets ready to proclaim October as Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM). These actions pave the way to a more diverse, inclusive and accessible workforce.

Increasing accessibility and decreasing barriers in the workplace for persons with disabilities is an important issue for CCDI. We have called on the federal government and on cities to have some form of disability act that provides clear and consolidated standards for addressing discrimination against persons with disabilities. As others have noted, in Canada, persons with disabilities are protected under a mix of Acts and standards: the Canadian Human Rights Act, 1986, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, the B.C. Human Rights Code, 1996, and the Employment Equity Act, 1986. There is also a common law duty for employers to accommodate their employees with disabilities to the point of undue hardship.

CCDI supports the federal government in its efforts to create new federal accessibility legislation. We also support the City of Calgary’s initiative and will participate in the proclamation of DEAM on October 2. On October 10, we will share our accessibility campaign with our Calgary stakeholders and Minister Kent Hehr will be our main guest speaker. The goal of the CCDI accessibility campaign is to encourage commercial real estate owners and managers to address physical barriers in buildings. Stay tuned for the details on the other activities that CCDI will take part in for DEAM.

While it is unclear to what extent government initiatives will impact employers’ legal obligations to persons with disabilities, the federal and municipal initiatives demonstrate a clear intention towards increasing accessibility in the workplace. In addition to understanding current legislative and common law protections of persons with disabilities, you should keep abreast of ongoing and future government initiatives regarding accessibility to make sure your organization has adequate and updated diversity policies and facilities.

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