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A Disability Lens in the Time of COVID-19

Posted in Accessibility News

Marcia Carroll
The Guardian, June 10, 2020

The Government of Canada recently marked May 31 to June 6 as National AcessAbility Week. Any other year, it would also be a time to recognize the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen the disability rights movement regress and the rights and needs of Canadians living with disabilities have been, for the most part, left out of the conversations and response. Identified below are four core areas in which people living with disabilities have affected by the lack of the use a disability lens when responding to a public health emergency.

We all benefit from a society that allows all its members to experience full citizenship. When persons with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of society, including accessing employment, resources and services, it enriches Canada’s community and economy.

History has taught us that during times of strife those most vulnerable pay the highest price. Our leaders must not allow this to happen as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The list above is by no means exhaustive we didn’t touch on the big systemic issues such as housing, poverty, transportation and employment. But all of the situations could have been avoided if people with lived experience were consulted and were at the decision-making table. They have the answers. People living with disabilities need to be involved in the design and implementation plans as we go forward.

Marcia Carroll is the executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities.

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