For the first time in two years, countries from around the world have gathered at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York City, for in-person formal meetings focussed on “Building disability-inclusive and participatory societies in the COVID context and beyond.”
Leading Canada's delegation at the 15th Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), is Delta MP and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough.
In addressing the Conference, Qualtrough highlighted Canada's ongoing work to become a country, and to help create a world, where persons with disabilities can participate in every aspect of society.
Central to this work is Canada's commitment to uphold its obligations under the CRPD and highlighted ongoing efforts to support persons with disabilities.
Qualtrough outlined work underway to create the Canada Disability Benefit, which could reduce poverty, strengthen financial security, and help hundreds of thousands of persons with disabilities. She also pointed to recent actions supporting the implementation of the Accessible Canada Act, including the appointments of Canada's first Accessibility Commissioner and Chief Accessibility Officer, and the release of the first regulations under the Act.
“Canada is working to become a country, and to help create a world, where persons with disabilities are included in every aspect of society,” said Qualtrough. “At the core of this work is implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This commitment connects Canada to the international community with the opportunity to both lead and learn from other nations as we work toward the shared goal of real, meaningful disability inclusion.”
Canada's UN COSP delegation includes three youth members of the disability community: Zoe Elverum, Carly Fox, and Paula MacDonald.
In a Conference side event, hosted virtually on Monday by Qualtrough and partner countries, Canada's youth delegates participated in a panel discussion entitled “Youth leadership and perspectives: advancing disability inclusion and the rights of persons with disabilities.”
Canada put forward its first-ever candidate for election to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Through an open and transparent selection process, Canada received several highly qualified nominations and Dr. Laverne Jacobs, an accomplished academic with significant experience in human rights and disability issues, was selected as the country's candidate. Dr. Jacobs has been elected to the Committee and will join eight other newly-elected members to serve a four-year term.
Qualtrough also met with her international counterparts and several key officials, including the International Disability Alliance and UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Gerard Quinn. The Conference provided an opportunity for the Canadian delegation to learn from the experiences of other countries, in particular related to the pandemic and ongoing recovery, and to reaffirm the Government's commitment to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities.