OPSEU/SEFPO Disability Rights Caucus has chosen to honour one of our most valued members that had served on our caucus, also a member who cherished all injured workers and their plight towards fair and equitable treatment, John Rae.
John was totally blind most of his life and lobbied on eliminating existing barriers with an overarching goal of creating a fully accessible inclusive society where those with disabilities could participate with dignity both within their workplace and the broader society or and in their communities.
John worked for the Ontario government for 24 years before taking early retirement. He worked as a Consultant in the Centre for Disability and Work, an Education Officer for the Employment Equity Commission, and a Program Officer with the Accessibility directorate of Ontario.
He was also elected to offices in Canada’s labour movement at the local, provincial and national levels. He was a local steward, on OPSEU/SEFPO’s Race Relations and Minority Rights Committee, member of the Disability Rights Caucus and the Provincial Human Rights Committee. He also served on the Canadian Labour Congress’s Disability Rights Working Group, and NUPGE’s Equality Committee on Human Rights and International Solidarity.
John has also held the position as Board and committee Chair of many disabilities and broader human rights organizations, two at the national level. At the time of John’s passing, he was a member of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities National Council, Co-Chair of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians’ Government Relations Committee, and a Board member of both the Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic and PAL Reading Service.
He was a world traveler, lover of live theatre and acoustic music, and a published author on a wide range of disability rights and museum access topics. John was a wealth of knowledge and he was a guest speaker at many events.
On April 8, 2022, John passed away, suddenly, after a typical whirlwind day where he had a Red Lobster meal (his favorite place to eat) the night before with his OPSEU/SEFPO brother Greg Snider. John followed through with his plans to join the OPSEU/SEFPO Convention crowd on Friday April 8. He met up with the Disability Rights Caucus at our booth in the Convention Marketplace, while supporting Ukraine. Greg and Sandra Snider, along with Cindy Haynes went to lunch with John. There was plenty of laughter, sharing of stories, political opinions, as well as issues closer to home. Little did we know, minutes after eating, John would be leaving us. He was a priceless treasure, an asset to all the committees, boards, and groups he was involved with. John will be greatly missed by all.
The picture below was taken around 11:45 on Friday April 8, 2022. It greatly exemplifies John’s humour if you can see his face!!
Rest in Eternal Peace, John! You are already missed!
In memory from the OPSEU/SEFPO Disability Rights Caucus (Cindy Haynes, Janet Heyman, Susan Fournier, Gillian Axten, Rina Gulli, Nadine Villeneuve)