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CAUT Statement on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

(Ottawa – December 3, 2019) The theme of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities centres around promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership. Disability is a cross-cutting issue and this theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.

Achieving equity, diversity and inclusion in post-secondary education is fundamental to its excellence. Yet, despite institutional principles and employment equity and human rights legislation, there is a paucity of data on academic staff with disabilities, making it difficult to identify and address discrimination and barriers in the academic workplace.

Drawing from the limited data available through the Canadian Survey on Disability, CAUT estimates that one in five academic staff are living with disabilities with pain and mental health-related disability among the most prevalent. The proportion of women with disabilities in academia is less than either men with disabilities or women without disabilities, raising questions of equity.

It is clear that better efforts must be made at all levels to bring into focus the working experiences and conditions of people with disabilities in order to remove barriers and prevent occupational injuries and illnesses. Inclusive employment and education will remain elusive and at great cost to individuals, institutions and society without better workplace data on disabilities.