CCD Annual Report 2007-08

2007/08 An Amazing Year for CCD

We cannot help but reflect on a truly amazing year for CCD—one in which CCD has experienced several noteworthy milestones. Some of us were able to celebrate these achievements together, others have not had the same opportunity. If you will indulge us a bit we thought we would give a short synopsis of a remarkable year.

Topping the list of successes has to be the Government of Canada's signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In a short time we have made real a document that will stand us in good stead for many years.

Second on the list is our win at the Supreme Court of Canada in the VIA Rail case. After a seven year legal battle this victory sends a strong message that access cannot be ignored and that persons with disabilities are members of the public and deserving of equal access to the goods and services of our country.

Third was the End Exclusion Event with over 90 organizations endorsing a National Action Plan on Disability. Never have we experienced such solidarity within our community. The National Action Plan clearly states our priorities and lays out both long and short term actions necessary at the federal level to improve the status of Canadians with disabilities.

Then along came the clear decision from the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding our long standing issue known as One Person/One Fare. CTA ruled that airlines cannot charge for the additional seat needed by persons with disabilities who require an attendant to provide services not provided by flight attendants, or who because of disability requires an additional seat. We have been seeking a decision on this issue for many years. CCD remembers the good work of Eric Norman, former Chairperson of CCD, on this long standing issue.

And last but by no means least, CCD has been awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) a Community/University Research Alliance (CURA) grant of $1,000,000 over 5 years to research issues of poverty and disability. This is a community led research initiative. CCD is the lead organization. Of the 92 CURA grants allocated over the years only 10 have been granted with community organizations as the lead organization. Our project is one of the ten. This grant award reflects a new perception and acknowledgement of the capacity and good work of CCD. The project is entitled "Disabling Poverty—Enabling Citizenship".

Certainly there are other actions we can point to with pride and a sense of accomplishment but the forementioned can justifiably be called milestones and they lay the foundation for future work.

The Margaret Mead saying goes to the heart of our work and these accomplishments:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Honourary Membership Presentation to David Baker

June 2007

CCD has only twice before awarded Honourary Membership to an individual and frankly never before to a person without a disability. Previously CCD has bestowed Honourary Membership on Peggy Allan and Irene McGinn. In June 2007 at CCD's celebration of our victory in the VIA Rail case, CCD bestowed Honourary Membership on David Baker for his outstanding contribution to the disability rights movement in Canada.

David's history of support of CCD is quite incredible. He has been legal counsel in such fundamental cases as: Bhinder, OMalley, Andrews, Grismer, Lovelace, Chesters, Eldridge, McKay-Panos, One Person/One Fare, Clarisse Kelly and, of course, VIA Rail.

David was also Executive Director of ARCH when other legal counsel at ARCH represented CCD in cases such as Granovsky, Wignall, Council of Churches, Rodriguez, and Thwaites. David played a pivotal role at ARCH and helped to build a strong organization that assisted CCD in its legal work. While at ARCH, David created the Dickson Circle, a pool of top legal talent willing to offer pro bono support to disability rights cases. This is where CCD found Bob Richards who ably represented CCD as legal counsel in the long and difficult Latimer case.

David has a willingness to share his knowledge for the advancement of the disability rights movement in general. He has spoken at numerous conferences and written a variety of articles that gets the consumer message out into legal circles. Through David we have a respected professional carrying our message forward to a powerful sector of society—the legal community.

Beyond legal representation, David did CCD's first paper on Tax Reform 1988, on the Post Censal Survey 1986, a Canadians with Disabilities Act 1999, and Transportation Access 2003.

When David left ARCH to establish his own law firm -bakerlaw- one of his prime considerations was whether the disability community would continue to work with him. He has repeatedly shown long term commitment to disadvantaged groups and in particular to the concerns of Canadians with disabilities. CCD has frequently called on David's skill over the years.

David has been legal counsel, advisor, friend and financial supporter of CCD. His record of support is long, substantive and steadfast. He is principled in his approach and fully supports consumer direction and control. His contributions to CCD are not complete and this award does not allow for retirement but rather obligates the individual to support CCD for life. CCD is pleased to recognize and honour David Baker's long term contribution, principled support and excellent work by awarding him an Honourary Membership in CCD.

CCD Executive Committee Report

Chair: Marie White

Members: John Rae, Margot Brunner-Campbell, Roy Muise, Chloé Serradori, Doreen Gyorkos.

This year, CCD made a major advance when the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) awarded CCD a million dollar 5-year research grant to investigate poverty from a disability rights perspective. Of the 92 projects awarded from the Community University Research Alliance (CURA) competitions, only ten, including CCD's project, have been to community groups, with the majority being given to Universities. Yvonne Peters and Dr. Michael J. Prince are the principal investigators for this project.

Along with the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres (CAILC), CCD sponsored End Exclusion 2007 in Ottawa on 22 November 2007. The Hon. Monte Solberg, the Hon. James Flaherty, the Hon. Peter MacKay participated in the event along with 370 community members. This event focused on presenting the National Action Plan on Disability.

CCD met with NDP Disability Critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis, MP, to inform her of the disability community's current concerns. In November, CCD met with the NDP National Council and Jack Layton to inform them of CCD's priority issues, as outlined in the End Exclusion Action Plan.

CCD has had input into a number of Federal government consultations: employment equity, CPP-Disability Benefit Round Table, housing, bilingualism, Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

CCD has also had meetings with a number of community organizations including the Episodic Disabilities Initiative, United Way Canada, Disability Rights Promotion International.

At the 2007 Annual General Meeting, David Baker was made an honourary CCD member and at the CCD Council meeting in November, Citizens with Disabilities Ontario (CWDO) was made an associate member of CCD.

Social Policy Committee Report

Chairperson: Marie White

Members: John Rae, Roy Muise, Sandra Carpenter, Gary Birch, Roy Hanes, Michael Huck.

In February, CCD's new Social Policy Committee met and established Terms of Reference, which states that the objective of the Committee is to:

  1. Identify social policy issues of national concern to persons with disabilities and
  2. Provide advice to CCD National Council on reforms that would improve the social and economic participation of Canadians with disabilities.

The Committee developed a strategy for mobilizing individuals to support the End Exclusion 2007 Action Plan. This strategy involves CCD representatives meeting with various organizations in the disability community and sharing with them techniques for mobilizing around the Action Plan. A meeting was held with Executive Directors of several national associations. As well there have been meetings with some Federal Departments in which the Action Plan has been discussed.

As has been the case with recent elections, the Social Policy Committee will be directing CCD's election work. During the meeting, the Committee developed plans for the upcoming election, including an election newsletter, challenges to the Parties and also looked at how to use new information technology, such as YouTube, to increase awareness about CCD's election work.

The Social Policy Committee will be directing CCD's work to have Canada ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol.

CCD Human Rights Committee Report

Chairperson: Yvonne Peters

Members: Gwen Brodsky, Frances Kelly, Pat Danforth, Peter Tonge, Jim Derksen, Stefanie Marinich, Dean Richert, Ravi Malhotra.

The CCD Human Rights Committee, along with additional human rights experts, met in Winnipeg on 26-27 June 2007 for a consultation on the Honda v. Keays case, an important employment accommodation case raising issues of importance to the disability community. The Committee recommended that CCD intervene in the case.

In February, CCD, represented by Frances Kelly and Gwen Brodsky, appeared in the Supreme Court as an intervener in the case of Honda v. Keays. In its factum and comments, CCD argued that while it supports the reading of human rights law into employment contracts, it also finds a need for a robust human rights system that provides a mechanism for redress of discrimination without the significant financial costs associated with a court proceeding.

Following Robert Latimer's parole, CCD, through a number of media interviews, reminded Canadians that Tracy was the victim and Mr. Latimer's parole does not diminish the seriousness of his crime.

On 30 November 2007, Yvonne Peters and Laurie Beachell met with representatives of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) to present the results of CCD's research titled "The Canadian Human Rights Commission Strives to Design A New Business Model: What Does This Mean for Persons with Disabilities?" The Commission expressed interest in the results and appreciation for the balanced approach taken throughout the report. This project has initiated increased communication between CCD and CHRC.

CCD, also with others, sought leave to intervene in the language community's legal challenge of defunding of the Court Challenges Program. Leave to intervene was denied.

With respect to future work, the Committee will be:

  • Preparing oral arguments for the Judicial Review of the Brown and the Canadian Human Rights Commission v. National Capital Commission and Public Works Canada, which will be heard in April 2008.
  • Continuing to arrange meetings with the Canadian Human Rights Commission to address ways to more effectively promote the human rights of persons with disabilities.
  • Undertaking an in-person meeting of the Committee in May to review the Terms of Reference and to plan for the future.

Transportation Committee Report

Chairperson: Pat Danforth

Members: David Baker, Ron Ross, Claredon Robicheau, Susan Ralph. Cathy Moore resigned from the committee during the year. We appreciate her dedication and insight.

This has been another historic year for CCD's Transportation Committee. In January, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) made a landmark ruling in our favor in the One Person/One Fare case against Air Canada and WestJet. The CTA recognized the right of travelers with disabilities to have access to a second seat for an attendant without having to pay a second fare. Unfortunately, the airlines sought to appeal BUT on May 5, 2008 that appeal was denied! Stay tuned.

While we won the VIA case at the Supreme Court, CCD is continuing to monitor VIA Rail's retrofitting of the Renaissance cars. CCD's on-going involvement is to ensure that VIA Rail delivers access. For example, in November, Claredon Robicheau, David Baker and others viewed a car mock-up, then provided feedback to VIA on their plans.

At the June Council meeting, CCD held a national consultation on accessible transportation. The document, "Building an Inclusive and Accessible Canada Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Policy Statement RE: Transportation Access" was developed by consensus at the consultation and over 40 organizations signed this statement. Pat Danforth presented the statement at the 11th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED).

International Development Committee

Chairperson: Steve Estey

Members: Mary Ennis, Angie Allard, Jim Derksen, David Shannon, Jason Mitschele, Yutta Fricke, Chris Lytle, Mary Reid, John Rae.

CCD continues to work in support of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The International Development Committee took the lead role during the negotiation phase. The CCD Social Policy Committee will be directing CCD's work in support of ratification because Canadian ratification is a national domestic issue. CCD has been working in support of Canadian ratification of both the Convention and the Optional Protocol, meeting with Canadian officials at the Department of Heritage and issuing press releases. At End Exclusion, Steve Estey participated in a panel presentation, which focused on the CRPD. At this event, there was public acknowledgement of the Hon. Peter MacKay's leadership which led to Canada's signing of the CRPD at the UN in March 2007. At the November Council meeting, Steve Estey and Bruce Porter presented information on the CRPD, the Optional Protocol, Convention monitoring and ideas on how people can use international conventions to advance national issues.

CCD is a member of:

  • Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC)-Committee member Chris Lytle serves on CCIC's board. On behalf of CCD, Yutta Fricke attended the 29 February 2008 Regional CCIC meeting in Manitoba. The most important policy opportunity discussed was the Paris Declaration, an international agreement endorsed by over 100 Ministers, Heads of Agencies and other Senior Officials in 2005. The terms of the Paris Declaration are being reviewed and a new draft will be presented for acceptance later this year. CIDA has been involved in this process and its goal is to increase transparency of funding, be responsive and increase public engagement. CCIC believes CIDA's leadership in the Paris Declaration may have a positive influence on the funding of Civil Society Organizations in Canada. CCIC has been asked to support CCD in promoting the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Mines Action Canada (MAC)—Mary Reid is now a member of MAC's board.
  • Disabled Peoples' International (DPI)—Steve Estey has stepped down from DPI's board and the Regional Council and has accepted a staff position with DPI.
  • Along with other groups, such as Amnesty International, CCD is establishing a new Canadian network on international human rights.

CCD participated in the World Congress of Disabled Peoples' International, which was held in Seoul, Korea, 5-8 September 2007. Through the medium of information technology, specifically YouTube, Jim Derksen, who is one of the founders of DPI, presented a message of solidarity to the Congress.

CCD assisted Mines Action Canada (MAC) organize a local event in Winnipeg on cluster bombs and also invited MAC to present on cluster bombs at the November Council meeting.

Steve Estey is CCD's representative on a Community University Research Alliance project, Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI), which is developing a model for data gathering on human rights violations of persons with disabilities at the grassroots level. This is a multi-country initiative.

Steve Estey has been appointed to the Executive of a new organization, the Commonwealth Disabled Peoples' Forum, which was launched in Kampala, Uganda last year and which met in London in March of 2008. The main focus will be on increasing the profile of people with disabilities in the Commonwealth Heads of Government "Peoples' Forums", which will be taking place every two years. The next forum is scheduled for Trinidad in 2009.

Access to Technology Committee Report

Chairperson: Kier Martin

During the fiscal year, CCD continued to share its views on the use of the funds (known as the Deferral Account) that the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) set aside for the improvement of access for persons with disabilities. Kier Martin has taken the lead on this issue for CCD.

CCD has a project to renew its web site. Kier Martin assisted CCD select a consultant to undertake the redesign. Jim Derksen undertook background research for CCD, developing an initial conceptual design for a new web site.

The Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) will be undertaking a consultation, focusing on the disability community's access to communications. Kier Martin took the lead in a consultation with a consultant working to prepare CRTC for this upcoming consultation, stressing the need for meaningful consultation which examines access from a cross-disability perspective, as well from the rural, northern and urban perspectives. CCD is very dissatisfied with on-line consultations, which are being tagged as "consultation".

CCD was an active participant in the Disability and Information Technologies (Dis-IT) Research Alliance, which completed its work in December 2007. Kier Martin represented CCD at various Dis-IT meetings.

Gary Annable, the Community Co-Director of the Dis-IT project, was housed at the CCD office. Gary's presence in the CCD office is greatly missed, as he very willingly shared his vast expertise on technology and research.

April D'Aubin 25th Anniversary with CCD

For 25 years April D'Aubin has been a valued and dedicated employee of CCD. April began work with CCD, then COPOH, on June 7, 1983 as a summer student. April has been CCD Research Officer ever since that student experience 25 years ago.

There isn't a CCD document, motion or set of minutes that April has not been directly involved with for the past 25 years. Many she has written and her knowledge of the disability rights movement in Canada is extensive and simply could not be duplicated by anyone else. In the CCD office she is the history of the association, she knows every major document, issue or campaign that CCD has been involved with and she knows where to find the documents.

April has been researcher, writer, minute taker, newsletter editor, librarian, support person for committees and board members and the person to go to if you need information or an understanding of CCD's work. She is a committed employee who has gone beyond the duties assigned to her and is eager to assist others in the CCD network complete other tasks.

April is in some instances too reluctant to share her viewpoint but certainly when asked, good advice and knowledge is freely shared. She is an integral part of the CCD team, works incredible hours and is always willing to take on other tasks.

April has recently pursued a Master's degree in Disability Studies at the University of Manitoba. I expect in many instances she could be teaching the course and certainly I am sure other students benefit from her knowledge and experience. April has also served on the board of Winnipeg Independent Living Resource Centre, the Canadian Centre for Disability Studies and DAWN Manitoba. Many within the Manitoba disability community call upon her to help record and document major meetings and events.

April has brought to CCD and the disability rights movement skill, knowledge and commitment. She has worked with many of the leaders of the disability rights movement, Henry Enns, Allan Simpson, Jim Derksen, Francine Arsenault, Irene Feika, Ron Kanary, Paul Young, Eric Norman, Yvonne Peters, Diane Driedger etc. and all have at some point depended upon her skill and commitment to achieve their goals. It is not often we get to acknowledge such commitment, dedication and good work but today we celebrate her past contributions and look forward to much more.

April thank you. Your good work is greatly appreciated and CCD hopes that you will continue to provide the exemplary service for many years to come.

CCD Awards 2007/2008

Larry Pempeit
SK Voice
Thelma Sinclair
Simon Lortie
Cynthia Bruce
PEI Council
Anne M. McPhee
Leanor Vlug
Stephen McDonnell
James Fardy and Carmela Hutchison
Johanne Hébert
David Weremy
Tracy Odell
Richard Marion
NWT Council
Kim Poulter