FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Premier’s Council on Disabilities held its annual event today in recognition of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

To mark the day, which is celebrated annually on Dec. 3, the council hosted an event focused on service animals at the Delta Hotel in Fredericton.

“We want to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities and their families and to find ways to help persons with disabilities access the workforce,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “We will continue to help New Brunswickers living with a disability access the workforce, as it strengthens our economy.”

The event featured presentations from Yvonne Peters, chair of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, as well as a presentation on service animals in New Brunswick from Pablo Montreuil of Sparks Advisory Group.

“The role of service animals in our province is growing and changing,” said council chair Andrew Daley. “This workshop is a key step as we work to support better understanding on the use of service animals and their vital importance to the many people in New Brunswick that rely on them every day.”

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992. Over the years, the day has been recognized to encourage people, organizations, governments, and societies all over the world to focus on issues related to the inclusion of persons with a disability and measures to support greater equality.

The theme 2017 is Transformation toward sustainable and resilient society for all.

Other highlights from the day included the release of the annual progress report on the Disability Action Plan: The Time for Action is Now and an announcement with information regarding application guidelines for the Randy Dickinson Scholarship. The scholarship, created in recognition of Dickinson’s nearly four decades of work on disabilities issues, is an annual award of $2,000 to a student who has a disability and is studying in a recognized post-secondary program in New Brunswick.