On December 3rd we come together to celebrate the contributions of all persons with disabilities, we recognize their role as an integral part of our Canadian family and we commit ourselves to building greater understanding and inclusion in all facets of our society.
Under the leadership of our previous Conservative government, historic investments were made to allow all Canadians to contribute their abilities to building a better nation. Whether it was improving physical access for persons of all levels of ability through the largest federal investment in a generation in infrastructure, with specific funds for improving physical access to public and private venues, as well as funding for municipal infrastructure including accessible mass-transit, or retrofitting homes to enable individuals to maintain their independence, these investments helped build self-reliance, dignity and accessibility into our communities.
With the creation of the Registered Disabilities Savings Program in 2007 our previous Conservative Government partnered directly with parents through grants and tax savings to help these parents provide a financial future for their children. This was in addition to greater funding for skills and employment training to increase participation in the workforce.
As Canadians we can be proud of the progress we have made to build an inclusive society that allows everyone to pursue a life of dignity, joy and purpose. We are a nation that relies on families and the bond of community to overcome adversity. Increased self-reliance, dignity and purpose are core values of our culture. However, our goal of inclusivity is never complete and we recognize there is always more that we can do, so we collectively recommit ourselves every year to further reduce the barriers to participation – in the job market, in sport, in civil-society and the arts.
Building full empowerment and inclusion, particularly in the workforce, is not something that government alone can solve. It requires all employers, all civil-society participants and every individual Canadian to reach out and make the effort to understand his or her neighbour so that all we see is the full potential and ability of every person in this great nation.
I invite you to be part of making Canada fully inclusive. What's your part to play?