The Semaine québécoise
des personnes handicapées
An opportunity to reflect on how we can make our society more Inclusive
From June 1 to 7, 2021, we celebrate the 25th edition of the Semaine québécoise des personnes handicapées, a week dedicated to raising awareness of the challenges that Quebecers with disabilities face in their daily lives. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made over the past 30 years, and on how we can make our society more inclusive.
Through our actions, we can all contribute to the well-being of people with disabilities.
This year, the message of the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec (OPHQ) and Rosalie Taillefer-Simard, spokesperson for the event, is that small gestures can make a big difference. Indeed, through our actions, we can all contribute to the well-being of people with disabilities.
If you’re an employer, consider the value of a person with a disability joining your team. Listen to people who are having difficulty speaking, without judging or interrupting them. Offer to help carry a package or pull something down from a high shelf in the grocery store. Include family, friends, and acquaintances with disabilities in your events and activities. Far from being trivial, these actions can have a positive impact on the daily lives of people living with handicaps.
‘It’s an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made over the past 30 years, and how we can make our society more inclusive.’
It’s a little-known fact that nearly one million Quebecers have a “significant and persistent” disability. We have a duty to ensure that these citizens, who represent about 15 percent of the Québec population, are included in our society.
Small gestures must be accompanied by concrete measures. The lack of accessibility to early childhood education and daycare services for children with disabilities and on the autism spectrum is an important issue. But our vision of inclusion also needs to translate to our education system where many of these vulnerable children are isolated and sent home without any support.
Businesses need to have access to financial measures for the renovation or conversion of their buildings, creating barrier-free designs to improve access by disabled persons. The lack of adequate services not only has negative consequences for youth and adults with special needs, but also leaves many families economically, professionally, and psychologically vulnerable.
As the Official Opposition Critic for Persons Living with a Disability or an Autism Spectrum Disorder, I have asked the government to examine my initiative mandates concerning the acceleration of accessibility initiatives for businesses, the accessibility of the Québec daycare network, and the failure to educate many children with disabilities.
‘It’s a little-known fact that nearly one million Quebecers have a “significant and persistent” disability.’
I am convinced that by working together with the organizations on the front lines, we can improve government programs so that children and adults with a disability or on the autism spectrum don’t get left behind.
We all have the power to promote the inclusion and development of people with disabilities. Beyond the awareness week organized by the OPHQ encouraging us to redouble our efforts, let’s not forget that we can improve the lives of our fellow citizens every day of the year!
Jennifer Maccarone is the Official Opposition Critic for Diversity and Inclusion, LGBTQ2 and for People Living with Handicaps or Autism Spectrum Disorder.