UFCW Canada announces the release of its newest resource entitled Strengthening Disability Inclusive Workplaces Through a Union Approach. The report outlines results from its national membership questionnaire distributed in Spring 2022.
The report is released this December in observance of National Day for Persons with Disabilities recognized on December 3, reaffirming the union’s ongoing commitment to protect and advocate for the rights of workers with disabilities.
Among several of the report findings, UFCW member responses point to a correlation between union representation and worker’s request to accommodation on the job.
“Systemic and institutional prejudice often show up at work in the form of stigma, attitudinal and behavioural bias and through a preconceived notion that it is the worker’s sole responsibility, to not only disclose a disability, but to also lead all efforts when it comes to workplace accessibility, accommodation, and inclusion. This viewpoint is wrong,” says UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema. “As a national union committed to protecting the rights of all workers, UFCW Canada will use findings from this questionnaire to continue undertaking collective and member-focused actions that amplify and represent the interest of UFCW members across Canada who work in pain, either as a result of sustaining a work-related injury, identifying as a worker with a disability or identifying as a caregiver of someone with a disability.”
The creation of a disability-inclusive workplace culture must be led with intention, strategy and requires strong commitment. UFCW members hold valuable information when identifying where workplace standards fail to meet the needs of workers. In representing the rights of workers with disabilities UFCW Canada holds solidarity with all workers who have an inherent right to work free from intimidation, fear and ableist attitudes on the job.
Findings from this questionnaire show that when workers are provided with knowledge on how to identify workplace barriers, they are also more likely to use their voice to speak out about ways to dismantle these inequities alongside their union.
Nonetheless, when it comes to being in receipt of benefits, more than two-thirds of workers noted on this questionnaire that access to existing benefits such as Employment Insurance (EI) and other sickness benefits did not cover their medically necessary time off work. Findings showed that workers with disabilities were also more likely to lose work shifts, experience work instability and loss of income throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
This December, UFCW Canada has profiled these report findings at the National Disability and Work Canada Conference and has participated in disability rights actions led by Inclusion Canada and Disability Without Poverty.