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12 CCD Accomplishments in 2010-11
CCD is a national human rights organization working for an inclusive and accessible Canada. The National Council of Representatives and CCD’s Committees (Executive, Human Rights, Social Policy, Access to Technology, Transportation, International Development, and Ending of Life Ethics) , with the assistance of the organization’s staff, undertake the organization’s human rights agenda. For CCD, the concluding fiscal year, 2010-11, was a year of endings and new beginnings, challenges and accomplishments. This report will describe CCD’s major accomplishments during the fiscal year. The efforts of the entire CCD team made possible these achievements.
A New Executive Team at CCD
At the June 2010 Annual General Meeting (AGM), long time chairperson Marie White stepped down from that position but remains involved in CCD as Past Chairperson and as Chairperson of the CCD Social Policy Committee. Numerous people ran for CCD Executive positions at the AGM and the following were elected as office holders: Tony Dolan (Chairperson), Roy Muise (First Vice Chair) Susan Ralph (Second Vice Chair), Claredon Robicheau (Secretary), Mary Ennis (Treasurer), and Terry Green (Member-at-Large on Executive Committee). Roy resigned from CCD Council for personal reasons and, during the January 2011 Council meeting, John Rae was elected as First Vice Chair to fill the vacancy left by Roy’s resignation. The CCD Executive is elected for a two year term.
1. Canada Ratifies Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
At the end of March 2010, Canada ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Ratification of the CRPD, symbolizes a new era for Canadian disability rights organizations like CCD. One of the reasons that CCD formed was to promote the idea that solutions to the barriers experienced by people with disabilities should be remedied by a human rights approach rather than by medical or charitable solutions. The CRPD is confirmation that the global community endorses human rights solutions to the concerns of people with disabilities. Since ratification, CCD has been educating various Canadian leaders about the disability community’s expectations with regard to implementation and monitoring of the CRPD. CCD has shared its views on the implementation of the CRPD with the Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). CCD has also communicated with the social policy caucuses of the Liberal and New Democratic Parties.
Just as CCD has been promoting the CRPD to elected officials, it has also been undertaking education about the CRPD with Federal Government staff people who will be implementing policies and programs. On 23 March 2011, Marie White, Steve Estey and Vangelis Nikias presented at the Government Conference on the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities for Federal government employees, organized by HRSDC.
2. New CCD Staff to Work on CRPD
Vangelis Nikias joined the CCD staff to assist the organization promote the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Vangelis has a long-standing involvement with the organization. He is a former chairperson of the CCD Human Rights Committee and was also a member of the CCD Social Policy Committee. While working for the Federal Government, Vangelis was a member of the Canadian delegation which helped to draft the CRPD at the United Nations.
3. CRPD Commitment by the Council of the Federation
In August 2010, the Council of the Federation met in Winnipeg. Jim Derksen and Laurie Beachell had the opportunity to meet informally with the Premiers when they were in Winnipeg. CCD used this opportunity to discuss the CRPD with the Premiers. At the end of their meeting in Winnipeg, the Premiers, through the Council of the Federation, made the commitment that a meeting would be held on the CRPD by their officials. On 15 March 2011, Provincial and Territorial Ministers responsible for disability and human rights met in Winnipeg and focused on the CRPD. Significantly, community members were invited to make presentations to the Ministers. Typically, Ministers meet behind closed doors without any community involvement. The following from CCD met with the Ministers: Jim Derksen, Yvonne Peters, Steve Estey, and Laurie Beachell.
4. CCD Appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada about Access to Justice
On 13 December 2010, CCD appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in Mowat v. Canada (Attorney General), an appeal about access to justice for victims of discrimination. The case involves Ms. Donna Mowat, who filed a human rights complaint after she experienced sexual harassment at work. Ms. Mowat, whose complaint was largely successful, was entitled to only $4,000 in compensation, although her legal fees to bring her complaint forward were nearly $200,000. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will decide if those who experience discrimination should be reimbursed for their legal costs related to filing human rights complaints. CCD argued that human rights legislation must be accessible to people who experience discrimination. This is particularly important for people with disabilities who represent the largest proportion of complainants before the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
5. Senate and HUMA Committee Reports Reflect CCD’s Recommendations
In From the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness by the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology reflected CCD’s recommendations on poverty as did the HUMA Committee Report on poverty, which was titled, Federal Poverty Reduction Plan: Working in Partnership Towards Reducing Poverty in Canada. (HUMA stands for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.)
6. CCD Poverty Research
CCD’s research project, Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship, successfully completed its mid-point evaluation by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The project is directed by co-principal researchers Yvonne Peters and Michael Prince. The project has completed a number of reports such as, an annotated bibliography, a number of legal memos, a demographic analysis and an overview of the Quebec approach to poverty alleviation.
7. CCD Network Meets at End Exclusion
CCD, along with the Canadian Association for Community Living and Canada Without Poverty, brought the disability community together in November to examine how poverty impacts on people with disabilities. On hand for this discussion were the researchers from the Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship project. Guest speaker Cindy Blackstock explained how poverty affects Aboriginal people in Canada and she also discussed Jordan’s Principle, which instructs provincial and federal officials to put aside jurisdictional wrangling about responsibility when an Aboriginal child with disabilities is in critical need of services. Another End Exclusion event will take place in November of 2011.
8. CCD Funded to Conduct Human Rights Research
A number of funders came together to resource CCD to undertake research on the duty to accommodate. This research will be conducted by Yvonne Peters, Shelagh Day and Gwen Brodsky.
9. CCD Meets Minister of Transport
After many years, CCD finally had the opportunity to meet with the Minister of Transportation. Pat Danforth, Chairperson of the CCD Transportation Committee, Laurie Beachell and Vangelis Nikias met with the Hon. Chuck Strahl. During the meeting, the Minister indicated that the impact of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the VIA Rail case, litigated by CCD, was to give the voluntary codes of practice the weight of access regulations. This is good news for travellers with disabilities. Minister Strahl also made a commitment to improve the working relationship between CCD and his department.
10. CCD Appears before CRTC
At the June 2010 Annual General Meeting, the CCD Council appointed John Rae and Gary Birch as Co-chairs of the CCD Access to Technology Committee. Under the leadership of John and Gary, CCD has begun to engage in a more robust manner on matters relating to access to information and communication technology. For example, CCD has been undertaking a research project called Evolution of Access, seeking the views of member organizations and key informants on barriers that prevent people with disabilities from using technology and how these barriers should be remedied. CCD has also made representations to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on the license renewals for some major broadcasters supporting 100% described video and quality captioning in programming offered by these carriers. John Rae of the AEBC and 1st Vice Chair of CCD's National Council and James Roots, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of the Deaf, a CCD member, appeared together before the CRTC at a public hearing in Gatineau, Quebec on 8 April 2011 to offer oral testimony in support of CCD's position.
11. CCD Shares Its Expertise during Pilot of Assistive Voting Device
During a Federal By-election, CCD assisted Elections Canada test an assistive voting device, which would allow people with various disabilities to vote independently and verify their own vote. Jim Derksen was a consultant to CCD on this project. The following organizations assisted CCD with this project: Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, People First and the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities. In the coming months, CCD expects to work further with Elections Canada on accessible voting issues.
12. New Receptivity at CIDA to Policy on Disability and Development
For many years, the CCD International Development Committee has been advancing the idea that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) should adopt a policy on disability and development, which would ensure that a disability lens is used when Canada partners with developing countries for the purpose of international cooperation. If operationalized correctly, a disability policy would help to ensure that people with disabilities benefit from projects invested in by CIDA. Since the ratification of the CRPD, CCD has witnessed a renewed interest among CIDA officials to consider the development of this long overdue policy. During this year, CCD representatives have been meeting with CIDA officials.
The work undertaken by CCD in 2010-11 has laid a strong foundation for advances in the coming year in CCD’s priority issues: disability-related supports, poverty, inclusion in the labour market and access, inclusion and citizenship.