Chairperson's Update: December 2008

More victories in 2008 for CCD

2008 was a fantastic year for CCD. Before we all get too busy with the challenges that will be brought by 2009, I want to share with you the great things that occurred during the last 12 months.

Congratulations to Everyone Working for Disability Rights

We need to congratulate ourselves and celebrate our accomplishments. Each and every person who is part of a disability group has played a part in making these achievements happen. Decision-makers know that our community is alive and vital—prepared to take action in support of the rights of persons with disabilities.

CCD’s Top 10 for 2008

I have selected what I believe to be CCD’s top 10 successes during the past 365 days. These are my picks for our headliners. You may have different ones; and I would welcome receiving your selections. I have selected the following as my top ten, because they are instances where:

  • Discrimination has been struck down.
  • CCD is being invited to share its arguments on how policies, practices and programs in Canada should function.
  • Decision-makers are adopting our recommendations.
  • We are taking on new challenges, adapting to the demands of the current social, political, economic environment.

#1-Discriminatory Ticketing Policy Struck Down; 1P1F Rules the Day

One Person/One Fare (1P1F) is now the law. This year we successfully toppled a long-standing barrier: the practice of Canadian airlines charging an additional airfare to people with disabilities who require an additional seat as a disability accommodation. Air Canada and WestJet attempted to have the Canadian Transportation Agency’s (CTA) 1P1F ruling rolled back but the courts were strong, having had their backbones strengthened by the VIA Rail decision, and stood behind the CTA decision.

THE HEAVY LIFTING ON THIS FILE was done by David Baker, Joanne Newbauer, the late Eric Norman and the CCD Transportation Committee. Thank you for your hard work and long-term commitment to resolving the 1P1F issue.

#2—Minister Flaherty Invites CCD to Meeting

On 6 January 20008, I will be meeting with Minister Flaherty in Montreal as part of the pre-budget consultation. This invitation demonstrates that disability is still on the Minister of Finance’s radar. It is the Department of Finance that has been creating reform for people with disabilities in Canada. During the meeting, CCD will ensure that the Minister hears our message that: In hard times, you can’t let times get harder for people with disabilities.

#3—CCD’s Capacity to Direct Disability Research Recognized

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded CCD’s research initiative called Disabling Poverty and Enabling Citizenship: Examining Exclusions and Identifying Opportunities for the Full Participation of Canadians with Disabilities. CCD submitted its project proposal to the Community University Research Alliance (CURA) competition. Of the 92 CURA grants that have been awarded over the years, only 10 have been community led and CCD’s project is one of these.

#4—Supreme Court Hears from CCD

The Supreme Court of Canada granted CCD intervener status in the Honda v. Keays case, which was described as the most important wrongful dismissal/accommodation case of the decade. As the accommodation issue was addressed by other parties, CCD’s intervention focused on access to justice.

#5—Federal Court Hears from CCD on Universal Design

CCD intervened in the case of Brown and the Canadian Human Rights Commission v. National Capital Commission (NCC) and Public Works (PW) that was heard by the Federal Court of Canada. The inaccessible York Steps were constructed in 1999 by NCC and then NCC put in place an inadequate accommodation (an elevator located a considerable distance from the steps). In its intervention, CCD shared with the Court its views on how the principles of universal design and consultation play fundamentally important roles in the creation of effective accommodations for people with disabilities.

#6—Poverty and Disability On the Radar during Election 2008

As part of its public education work for Federal Election 2008, CCD helped organize, along with the National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO), an All-Party Debate on Poverty, which had representation from all parties but the Conservatives. On behalf of CCD, I provided the summary comments at the end of the debate.

#7—National Action Plan Had Traction during Election 2008

Our National Action Plan was noticed by many of the political parties during the Election campaign. We were happy when the NDP, Green Party and the Liberals all adopted components of our National Action Plan, incorporating them into their election platforms.

#8—VIA Rail Now Has Plan to Make Renaissance Cars Accessible

As a result of CCD’s VIA Rail case, VIA Rail has developed a plan for correcting the undue obstacles for mobility which were identified in CCD’s complaint to the CTA. CCD had the opportunity to have input into this plan.

#9—BC Court Agrees to Hear from CCD

In December, CCD learned that it had been granted leave to intervene in the Moore case. CCD will be sharing with the court its views on what groups in the population people with disabilities should be compared with when decisions about accommodations are being made.

#10—Strengthening Relationships, Cultivating New Ones, Bringing New Leaders on Board, Tackling More Issues

At CCD, it can’t be said that we just continue to pursue the same old thing. In 2008, we struck out in some new areas and began creating new working relationships.

Death-Making—At the June AGM, we created a new committee to address death-making, with Rhonda Wiebe and Dean Richert as co-chairs. While not a newcomer to the disability rights movement, this is Rhonda’s first appointment to a CCD committee. Rhonda has been assisting CCD to foster a working relationship with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Dean is a member of CCD’s Human Rights Committee.

International Human Rights Monitoring—In the summer, through our CURA project, we made our first submission to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Canada. Steve Estey, Chair of CCD’s International Committee, Bruce Porter, who is participating in our CURA project, and some others applied for funding for community consultations that will feed into this process. You will be hearing more about these consultations later on this month.

Information and Communication Technology—In November, Kier Martin made CCD’s first presentation to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission’s Public Hearing on issues of concern to people with disabilities. An excellent and very detailed summary report was written by April D’Aubin for this presentation. Prior to this, CCD hosted a community consultation on issues being considered at the CRTC hearing. Currently, with the support of Phyllis Gordon, CCD is developing a submission to the CRTC on governance of the internet.

NAPO—Through our CURA project and our election work, we are developing closer ties with the National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO). With the deepening economic crisis, poverty will likely become an even greater priority for all of us.

Government Green Lights Human Rights Museum—Bill C-42 established the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which will be in Winnipeg, as this country’s first national museum outside of Ottawa. CCD has been sharing its expertise on disability rights with the Museum. The Museum’s target audience is students from Canada. CCD expects the Museum to cultivate future generations of Canadians with a profound commitment to an accessible and inclusive Canada. The Museum is a component of our long-term strategy to strengthen support for disability rights.

In March, as part of a Winnipeg-based coalition that came together under the umbrella of the Allan Simpson Memorial Fund, CCD helped organize a film night in support of the museum.