Chairperson's Update: March 2009

While I have not raised the National Action Plan with you in some months, I want to assure everyone in the CCD network that we continue to pursue the Plan’s objectives and that we are moving forward with planning for another End Exclusion event. First, I will share with you what CCD has been doing this month to advance various Plan recommendations and then I will bring you up-to-date on plans for the next End Exclusion function.

As you will recall, the National Action Plan focuses on Disability-Related Supports, Poverty, Employment, and Access, Inclusion and Full Citizenship. In March, we focused primarily on the latter three issue areas.

Disability Poverty Reduction

CCD National Coordinator Laurie Beachell consulted with Canada Without Poverty, formerly known as NAPO, and Citizens for Public Justice about the possible creation of a new public poverty reduction campaign.

On 13 March 2009, Laurie Beachell and April D’Aubin participated in an HRSDC information session on the Registered Disability Savings Plan.


On 31 March 2009, Marie White appeared before the House of Commons on the Status of Women which is looking at Canadian women’s access to Employment Insurance. During my presentation, I addressed the need to expand the EI Sickness Benefit so that Canadians have 52 weeks of coverage, a recommendation from the National Action Plan. Carmela Hutchison, DAWN Canada Chairperson, also appeared before the Committee and she made a similar recommendation.

On 19 March 2009, Laurie Beachell participated in a consultation with Goss Gilroy on accommodating people with disabilities who are part of Canada’s military. The Federal Government has developed a new policy whereby military personnel who become disabled while enlisted are not required to resign. Formerly, all personnel had to be combat ready.Extending the reach of the duty to accommodate persons with disabilities in the workplace is an important priority for CCD.

Access, Inclusion and Full Citizenship

Access—Pat Danforth, the Chairperson of CCD’s Transportation Committee, participated in a meeting of the Canadian Transportation Agency’s Advisory Committee. CCD Transportation Committee member Robin East also attended this meeting representing AEBC.

Laurie Beachell and Jim Derksen met with Patrick O’Reilley, the acting CEO for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. CCD is seeking to ensure that the principles of universal design influence all aspects of the Museum, its premises, exhibits and program, and web site.

Inclusion: No It Really Is Exclusion—While the disability rights movement works for inclusion, there are still those who take exclusive approaches. One new example of an exclusive approach is the new Federal ministerial advisory committee on accessible transportation.While this body used to be composed of representatives of consumer organizations, it has become an appointed body of individuals. The problem with this model is that the appointees are not accountable to the grassroots. It excludes the knowledge, expertise and interests of grassroots Canadians with disabilities. CCD has learned that this body has met but the names of its members continue to be a well kept secret. This is happening at a time when consumers are indentifying new barriers in the transportation system and dealing with persistent, on-going obstacles. A series of Federal Transportation Ministers have refused to meet with CCD to discuss our wish to see the development of transportation regulations. CCD will continue to push for regulation and a meeting.

Full Citizenship—Two years ago, on 30 March 2009, the Government of Canada participated in the signing ceremony at the United Nations for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This Convention elaborates what actions states need to take to ensure that people with disabilities have full enjoyment of their human rights.The National Action Plan calls for the Government of Canada to ratify the CRPD in two years. On the anniversary of the signing ceremony, CCD drew public attention to the fact that while 50 countries have ratified the Convention, Canada is not among those 50.

On 30 March 2009, Laurie Beachell and I attended a House of Commons Committee hearing that was examining Canada’s response to its peer review on its human rights record. During this review, Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, China and Chile drew attention to Canada’s response to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Human Rights Committee submitted its factum in the Moore case. In this intervention, CCD is seeking to influence what groups people with disabilities are compared to when the court is undertaking an equality rights analysis. The Court of Appeal rejected CCD’s bid to be an intervener in the Brown Case, which seeks to remedy an unsuitable accommodation erected by the National Capital Commission and Public Works for the York Steps, a public staircase in Ottawa. The accommodation was an elevator located a lengthy distance from the Steps.

End Exclusion 2009

While Laurie and I were in Ottawa at the end of the month, we viewed the meeting space at the Ottawa City Hall, which will be the location for End Exclusion 2009 on 1 October 2009. This year’s End Exclusion will be an invitational leader-to-leader dialogue focusing on poverty.It will afford an opportunity for leaders from the disability community and political leaders to have a serious exchange about how to remedy the disproportionate poverty experienced by Canadians with disabilities. The meeting will be a place to showcase the initial results of CCD’s CURA research project, “Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship”. Along with CCD, the Canadian Association for Community Living and Canada Without Poverty will be taking the lead on this important session on poverty.

I want to take a moment to comment on the current economic downturn being experienced worldwide. Our ongoing message to Federal leaders is that in these times, we can not afford to further marginalize and disenfranchise those who are vulnerable. I urge you to share this same message with your Provincial government representatives.