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Human Resources, Labour and Employment
December 3, 2009

The following statement was given today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment:

Province Recognizes International Day of Persons with Disabilities

I rise today in this Honourable House to recognize that today, December 3, is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This is an annual observance created by the United Nations to promote understanding of disability issues, foster respect for the rights of persons with disabilities, and highlight the benefits of having persons with disabilities engaged in all aspects of life in their communities.

This occasion is about mobilizing action toward creating a fully inclusive society. As Minister Responsible for the Status of Persons with Disabilities, I am proud to say that 2009 was certainly a year of action for this province.

On June 1, the Williams Government officially opened the new Disability Policy Office, which was created to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society, while helping government departments ensure their policies and programs are inclusive and barrier-free. The opening was met with tremendous approval from the community of people with disabilities, as it represented a new era of partnership between government and the community.

This partnership has been strengthened by the establishment of our new Provincial Advisory Council for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, which was announced last week. This council is comprised of 17 members and features cross-disability representation from all regions of the province. This will help ensure government fully appreciates all perspectives within the community of persons with disabilities. The newly appointed chair of this council, Ms. Joanne MacDonald, is present in this Honourable House today, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to her for accepting this role.

Ms. MacDonald has spent decades advocating to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities, and has excelled as an athlete, advocate, and role model. Her achievements have earned her nomination to the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador and appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada. We are very fortunate to have someone with her insights and her standing within the community to lead this endeavor.

I will conclude by advising this Honourable House that this morning I had the privilege of celebrating this very important day at the Independent Living Resource Centre. This inspiring event included the presentation of awards including the Local Government Award for Independent Living. I am so proud to announce that the Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment was the recipient of this award which honours those who have challenged or lobbied, and succeeded, in implementing substantial change by breaking down barriers faced by persons with disabilities. This is very important work and I encourage members of the community of disabilities to continue to partner with this government so that together, we can continue to build a more progressive, inclusive society.

2009 12 03                                                     2:00 p.m.

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