CCD Chairperson's Update--December 2010

Season's Greetings

CCD wishes everyone Season's Greetings and all the best in the coming year. (The CCD office will be closed from 24 December 2010 until 4 January 2011.) As the approach of a New Year encourages reflection upon the challenges and accomplishments of the preceding 12 months, a brief summary of the past year's work follows the overview of this month's activities. In the New Year, we will be addressing the new Federal Budget and possibly we will also be facing a Federal Election. Our message continues to be that a refundable Disability Tax Credit (DTC) would be an excellent down payment toward the eradication of disability poverty in Canada.

The Highlights from This Month's Activities

Human Rights

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 CCD made written and oral arguments in this matter. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will decide if those who experience discrimination should be reimbursed for their legal costs relating to filing human rights complaints. According to David Baker, counsel for the CCD in this matter, “Very often, the legal fees to file complaints and to have them heard by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal are more than what is awarded as compensation to successful complainants. As a result of this, even when victims of discrimination win their cases, they are very often out of pocket several thousands of dollars.” David Baker and Paul Champ represented CCD. CCD Human Rights Committee members Anne Levesques and Ravi Malhotra were in attendance at the Court for the proceedings.

Elections Canada

On 8 December 2010, an evaluation meeting was held regarding the Assistive Voting Device which was used in the Winnipeg By-election in November. At this meeting, Elections Canada had the opportunity to hear from: John Rae (AEBC), Robin East (AEBC), Valerie Wolbert (People First), David Martin (Government of Manitoba), Diane Driedger (MLPD), Laurie Beachell (CCD). In the coming moths, there will be further discussion with Elections Canada about improving access to the electoral process.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

On December 10th, International Human Rights Day, there were two conferences which heard CCD's point of view on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Rise Up—Steve Estey spoke at the Rise Up Conference in Ottawa.

Honoring the Convention: A Call to Action in BC—Laurie Beachell presented at this conference which was organized by the Disability Advisory Committee of the Community Legal Advisory Society (CLAS).

Highlights from the Past 12 Months

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Canada's ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was the highpoint of the year. The Chairperson of CCD's International Committee, Steve Estey, witnessed this historic event at the United Nations in March. In September, on behalf of CCD, Steve Estey attended the Conference of States Parties at the United Nations.

Human Rights

In February, the CCD Human Rights Committee met with the Canadian Human Rights Commissioner Chief Commissioner Jennifer Lynch, Commissioner Sandi Bell, Secretary-General Karen Mosher and others to discuss measures on systemic discrimination that could be undertaken by the CHRC. CCD recommended that the CHRC focus on systemic discrimination experienced by Aboriginal people with disabilities and federally sentenced prisoners with disabilities. CCD continues to work closely with the CHRC on systemic discrimination, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other issues.

Throughout the year, CCD met on numerous occasions with officials of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to encourage the Museum to address appropriately the human rights history of people with disabilities and to build its premises in a way that is accessible to visitors with all types of disabilities.

CCD was at the Supreme Court in the Mowat case.

Elections Canada

This year, CCD worked very closely with Elections Canada to make voting more accessible to Canadians with disabilities. CCD has been assisting Elections Canada implement the Hughes decision and test an Assistive Voting Device.


CCD has been assisting Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) develop a new data base on disability, which is to replace the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey data base.

End of Life

In June, Rhonda Wiebe and Jim Derksen appeared before the House of Commons ad hoc Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care.

Poverty Research

CCD successfully completed the midterm evaluation of its Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council research project Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship.


Working in a coalition with other organizations, CCD encouraged the CRTC to make recommendations that would increase the availability of described video programming.


The CCD Transportation Committee participated in a conference call meeting with officials from the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) and the Transport Development Centre (TDC). The Committee apprised the CTA and TDC about the CCD Council's concerns regarding body scanners and other security measures.

International Development

CCD has been meeting with the Canadian International Development Agency to encourage the Agency to adopt a policy on disability and development.

On behalf of CCD, Yutta Fricke worked through the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) on the wording of a statement conveyed to the Montreal Summit on Haiti's reconstruction. As a result, the "Canadian Civil Society Statement to the Foreign Ministers Meeting on Haiti" called for action on disability issues.

Long Term Disability Benefits

On 18 November 2010, Jim Derksen appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, when it was considering Bill S-216. The intent of Bill S-216 was to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to protect employees on long-term disability by granting them preferred status during bankruptcy proceedings.


CCD continues to participate on the CPP-D Roundtable as a way to encourage administrative reforms that will improve the program.


CCD continued to make Members of Parliament and the general public aware of the practices in the Canadian immigration system which discriminate against immigrants with disabilities.