FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Nathalie Chiasson, chair of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission:

The 29th annual Disability Awareness Week will be celebrated from May 29 to June 4. The Premier’s Council on the Status of Disabled Persons and many municipalities, partners, and local organizations are holding a number of activities to mark the event. Competitions, awards, a legislative breakfast, and several Walk and Roll challenges are planned across the province.

The theme for 2016 is Employment Enables Inclusion! More than 125,000 New Brunswickers live with a disability and face barriers in terms of employment and access to information, transportation, housing, and education on a daily basis.

Issues affecting the rights of people with a disability are very important for the commission. Complaints of discrimination based on physical or mental disability represented 49 per cent of discrimination complaints filed with the commission during the 2014-15 fiscal year. More than half of those complaints were related to employment.

It is therefore essential to compensate for the lack of reasonable accommodation to enable all workers to reach their full potential. The theme of the week reminds us that all employers must make inclusion a priority. By being proactive, employers who ensure the well-being of their employees by implementing adaptation measures will be the first to harness the full potential of their workforce.

The week provides an opportunity for us to educate ourselves, to foster a change in attitudes, and to raise public awareness with respect to existing issues that affect people with a disability.

Since 1967, the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission has protected and promoted the values associated with human rights, such as respect, appreciation for diversity, and absence of discrimination. The commission will turn 50 in 2017, a year that will be a focal point for expanding recognition of the basic principle that all human beings are equal in dignity and rights.