On October 14, 1992, the member states of the United Nations General Assembly agreed to proclaim December 3 as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Every year since then, people across Saskatchewan and around the world have observed this special date with respect and recognition. They have used this day to promote understanding of disability issues, to recognize the need to change attitudes towards person with disabilities, and to advance the rights, respect, dignity, and well-being of disabled persons everywhere.

The theme of this year’s observance is: “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.” The emphasis is on the active and proactive roles that people with disabilities are taking to increase accessibility, how the work they are doing enables access, and how they are working to increase awareness about greater inclusion. It is work that is both important and necessary.

During 2017-2018, discrimination based on disability accounted for over half (55.1%) of all complaints formalized by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. The majority of which (84.6%) were employment-related complaints.

The Commission continues to address these issues. It also continues to support the aims of the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy and to work diligently to remove barriers that persons with disabilities face in this province. Through its systemic advocacy initiatives, the Commission has helped improve public transportation for persons with disabilities, secure funding for a new program to ensure newborns are screened for hearing loss, and establish an early learning program for children who are D/deaf and hard of hearing.

There is still more to do. Much more. By working together, we can make Saskatchewan a more inclusive, equitable place to live. A place where the needs of every single person with a disability are met.