2017-2018 - Disability, inclusion and integration in big cities

The Initiative

The CHRLP is pleased to present the 2017-2018 Disability and Human Rights Initiative. Building on the disability seminar series launched in 2012, the Initiative’s three events this year will continue to explore compelling issues in disability with a focus on law and policy, in keeping with the Faculty of Law’s tradition of analysis, scholarship and promotion of human rights and social justice.

We also invite submissions to the Disability and Human Rights Series before November 30, 2017.


People with disabilities navigate many unique challenges in big cities, many of which arise from the urban environment and infrastructure, as well as the high costs of living both with a disability and in the downtown core. Institutional barriers to access—transportation, public and government services, and the labour market—as well as structural barriers and discrimination—racism, classism, and sexism—intersect to shape the lives of people with disabilities in urban settings.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) specifically requires countries to ensure that people with disabilities can access their environment, transportation, public facilities and services, and workplaces (art 9); recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work and employment (art 27); and recognize the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection (art 28), without discrimination.

Drawing on the UNCRDP, the Initiative seeks to explore the ways that accessibility and inclusion in big cities are understood and enacted through disability rights frameworks and diverse policies protecting people with disabilities.

  1. October 27, 2017: Governance of Inclusive Cities: Realization of Disability Rights
  2. December 4, 2017: International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Accessible Transit in Montreal
  3. February 9, 2018: Disability and Work: Inclusion and Integration in the Labour Market

Fall Semester: Accessibility and Disability in Big Cities

1. Governance of Inclusive Cities: Realization of Disability Rights

Date: Friday, October 27, 2017
Time: 1:00-2:30pm
Location: NCDH room 202
This event will explore disability in the built environment through planning, design and public policy.

Urbanization is currently one of the most important global trends of the 21st century. Urbanization has a great potential to be a great engineer to achieve sustainable and inclusive development for all. About 6.25 billion people, 15 per cent of them with disabilities, are predicted to be living in urban centres by 2050. Urban environments, infrastructures, facilities and services, depending how they are planned and built, can impede or enable access, participation and inclusion of members of society.

For the 15 per cent of the world’s population who live with a disability, (many of whom live in urban areas), available evidence reveals a widespread lack of accessibility to built environments, from roads and housing, to public buildings and spaces and to basic urban services such as sanitation and water, health, education, transportation, and emergency and disaster response and resilience building and access to information and communications. These accessibility limitations contribute greatly to the disadvantage and marginalization faced by persons with disabilities, leading to disproportionate rates of poverty, deprivation and exclusion. This situation also impedes the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other internationally agreed development goals.

This seminar will consider the following:

  • How international policy frameworks require States to promote accessibility and disability inclusive development
  • Initiatives and progress made to promote accessible and inclusive development
  • Recommendations on the Ways forward to advancing accessible and inclusive New Urban Agenda for all
  • Sharing of good practices from across Canada

2. International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Accessible Transit in Montreal

Date: Monday, December 4, 2017
Time: 11:30am-2:30pm
Location: Atrium

To mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities and to coincide with this year’s theme of inclusion and accessibility in big cities, the Disability and Human Rights Initiative will project Laurence Parent’s short films - on accessibility and public transportation - onto the wall of the Atrium. Snacks will be provided.

Winter Semester: Disability and Labour Market Integration

3. Disability and Work: Inclusion and Integration in the Labour Market

Date: Friday, February 9, 2018
Time: 1:00-2:30pm
Location: NCDH 316

This event will explore the barriers facing people with disabilities when entering the labour market. Panelists will include Normand Boucher and Gift Tshuma.

The UNCRDP guarantees people with disabilities the right to the opportunity to gain a living through work, as well as a work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible (art 27). However, there are still many challenges facing people with disabilities when entering the labour market, including discrimination, the employer’s economic concerns and short-term goals, and a decrease in funding and organizational capacity of the disability community services sector.

The topic of labour market integration policy and disability will be examined by comparing the multiplicity of legislation and policies from different Canadian jurisdictions throughout history. Labour market integration policy for people with disabilities varies, specifically in terms of the importance of the process and time of disablement, the type of work that is encouraged within these policies, and the formal acknowledgement of other barriers facing people with disabilities, such as discrimination and intersecting oppressions. These policy variances will be explored to strategically identify best practices, partnerships, and  areas for future policy expansion across jurisdictions.

The aim of this event is to engage law students, legal professionals, and academics with the intersections of labour law, policy, and disability rights.