Human Rights Day: A Time for Reflection

Last November 30, Senator Chantal Petitclerc invited ABLE2 representatives as guests to the Senate of Canada Chambers, where she delivered her statement for International Day of Persons with Disabilities. As a champion of human rights and for building a more inclusive society, Senator Petitclerc recognized ABLE2’s work in providing programs and services that empower people with disabilities to assert their rights and participate fully in the community.  

You can watch/listen to Senator’s Petitclerc’s statement here: 

Human Rights Day is an important occasion to reflect on the intersection of disability and human rights. People with disabilities face a range of challenges in accessing their rights, including discrimination, poverty, and social exclusion. In order to address these challenges, there is an urgent need for legal services that are tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, so that they can challenge discrimination and have an ally in advocating for their rights.  

According to a study by Statistics Canada in 2014, people with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty than people without disabilities. Due to additional barriers like accessing education, employment, and healthcare, people with disabilities have limited opportunities, which can impact their ability to fully participate in the community. Having access to legal services, people with disabilities and their families will have the resources and support they need to overcome these barriers and achieve their goals.   

(Source: Statistics Canada

Earlier this year, Reach Canada merged with ABLE2 and as a result we have increased our impact on people with disabilities in our community. This merger has helped to further our mission to continue working with partners to provide the tools, choices and connections that empower people with disabilities to build lives of meaning and joy, including fostering access to justice. The Reach Legal Referral Program connects people with disabilities to a network of over 200 volunteer lawyers, mediators, and paralegals in the Ottawa region who provide up to three hours of free, confidential, and personal legal advice. This program helps people with disabilities with a variety of legal issues, such as discrimination, employment, housing, family, education, health, and more.  

Last year alone, the program’s lawyer referrals drastically increased by 45%, revealing the urgent and growing need for legal services tailored to the needs of people with disabilities.  

The impact of providing access to legal services can be seen in Olga’s story, one of the beneficiaries of the Reach Legal Referral Program at ABLE2.  

“…when I started having difficulties walking due to severe pain (I have spine stenosis) I went to the HR contact and inquired the number of handicap parking spaces available, as by the time I started work, the spaces closer to the building I worked, were already taken…  

After hearing my situation and the challenges I was going through, Reach connected me with a lawyer, issued me a certificate and I met with a lawyer free of charge.  

 What I value most about my relationship with Reach, is that they indeed care for individuals like me, they listen and act accordingly, after this, I went back a second time for another issue and again, I was helped.  

 Thank you so much for your assistance and the great work you do helping people with disabilities, at times, I personal feel like having a disability it’s like a stigma, I have a handicap parking permit and I have been approached more than once by individuals questioning my disability, we have gone a long way but there’s still a lot to be done to resolve the many challenges people with disabilities face.. God bless you all involved in this organization, you and all the lawyers helping us are a blessing,” – Olga Medin, Reach Program Beneficiary 

ABLE2’s work is an integral part of creating a more inclusive and equitable society. In providing legal referral services, we can support people with disabilities in achieving their goals and realizing their dreams, whether that means gaining independence, creating a social network, obtaining an education, or securing employment. With the help of our committed partners, generous donors, dedicated volunteers & supporters, we will continue to strive for a world where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential.  

To learn more about ABLE2’s Reach Legal Referral Services, and other programs, visit our website at 

Published by

Heather Lacey

Experienced Non-Profit Executive Director

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