Minister Qualtrough addresses United Nations Conference  and shares Canada’s plan for an inclusive recovery  

News release

June 17, 2021              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the lives of persons with disabilities in Canada and around the world. It has also shed a light on the long-standing inequities that negatively affect their health, financial security and social well-being This week, countries from around the world gathered virtually at the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, led Canada’s delegation and shared plans to build back better and further the inclusion of persons with disabilities in recovery efforts.

Minister Qualtrough delivered remarks during the opening session of the Conference and affirmed Canada’s continued commitment to upholding its obligations under the CRPD. The minister shared Canada’s experiences and lessons-learned in support of persons with disabilities during the pandemic, including applying a disability-inclusive lens to Canada’s emergency response measures and economic recovery plans.

The minister also announced that, for the first time, Canada is putting forward a candidate for the 2022 election of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This important step underscores Canada’s ongoing commitment and prioritization of human rights and disability issues. Following an open and transparent candidate search process, Dr. Laverne Jacobs was chosen to be Canada’s candidate. An Associate Professor and the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at the Faculty of Law at the University of Windsor, Dr. Jacobs has extensive educational and professional experience in law, disability issues, and human rights including the rights of persons with disabilities. As a member of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, she adjudicated and mediated cases of discrimination. She also wrote a background legal review for the Accessible Canada Act and has advised disability organizations on the interpretation of the CRPD and its application to Canadian law.

Finally, Minister Qualtrough highlighted the recent launch of the public engagement process with Canadians to help guide the development of Canada’s first-ever Disability Inclusion Action Plan. The accessible survey, now available online, allows Canadians to provide feedback and insight on priority areas of the plan. The areas include financial security, employment, disability-inclusive spaces, and building a modern approach to disability within the Government of Canada. Canadians can access and complete the survey online by August 31, 2021. More information is available on our Engagement webpage.


“It was an honour for me to lead Canada’s delegation to the Conference of States Parties and to share with international partners the significant strides we made this year, as well as how we are overcoming the inequities we are facing due to the pandemic. We still have much work to do in ensuring a recovery grounded in human rights principles of equality, anti-discrimination, participation and inclusion. The Government of Canada remains strongly committed to building an inclusive and barrier-free Canada, where no one is left behind.”
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

Quick facts

  • This year marked the 14th session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Conference ran from June 15 to 17, 2021.

  • This year’s theme was: “Building back better: COVID-19 response and recovery; Meeting the needs, Realizing the rights and Addressing the socio-economic impacts on persons with disabilities.” 

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has listed Canada’s approach for taking a disability inclusive response to the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the best and promising practices.

  • The CRPD Committee is a body of 18 independent experts that monitors the implementation of the CRPD. Members are elected on a four-year term, with the possibility of being re-elected once. Elections occur by secret ballot every two years to replace members whose terms are expiring. The election will occur in 2022.

Associated links


For media enquiries, please contact:

Ashley Michnowski
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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