June 1, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The following statement was released today by Gordon Porter, chair of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission:
The week of May 31 to June 6 marks the 22nd annual Disability Awareness Week in New Brunswick. The Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons, its partners and several local groups are organizing numerous activities throughout the province to mark this week.
Disability rights issues are a major area of concern at the Human Rights Commission. In fact, complaints of discrimination based on physical or mental disability represented 56 per cent of our caseload last year. About 90 per cent of these complaints concerned employment.
Several of the cases we receive concern access to buildings and services, such as wheelchair-accessible transportation and buildings accessible to people with visual and other disabilities. Much more needs to be done so that employers, service providers and building owners are aware of their responsibilities to provide accessible workplaces, facilities, services and housing.
Many New Brunswickers recall Rick Hansen's famous and heroic Man in Motion World Tour, which ultimately led to the creation of Disability Awareness Week. However, there are many other unknown heroes in New Brunswick, ordinary people with a disability who do their best to get an education and a career, to raise a family, and simply live their lives in their communities.
To achieve this, they need and deserve our support. We can provide it by removing the obstacles that needlessly limit their employment, services and housing opportunities, by recognizing their skills and experience, by accommodating their needs, and by fully including them in our lives and in our society.
During Disability Awareness Week I invite businesses, service providers and individual New Brunswickers to take the lead throughout the year to provide the support that people with a disability need so that they can be full residents and contributors to our society.