CCD Chairperson's Update: March 2011

Below you will find the key events that were on CCD’s calendar for the month of March.

2 March–Theme 2 of the CURA project, led by Michael Prince and Michael Bach, met in Toronto to draft its work plan for the current year.

10 March–CCD filed an application with the Supreme Court of Canada to intervene in the R. v. D.A.I. case, which seeks to redress the court’s unwillingness to accept the testimony of a person with an intellectual disability. Others seeking to intervene in this case are People First and CACL and LEAF and DAWN Canada.

14-15 March—Provincial and Territorial Ministers responsible for disability issues and human rights spent two days in Winnipeg to focus on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Ministers had the opportunity to hear from three key leaders who have had a long term involvement with CCD—Jim Derksen (a former CCD Chairperson and a current member of the Human Rights and Ending of Life Ethics Committees), Steve Estey (Chairperson of CCD’s International Development Committee), Yvonne Peters (Legal Advisor to CCD’s Human Rights Committee).

15 March—Steve Estey and Jim Derksen met with representatives of the Canadian Museum for the Human Rights to discuss the CRPD.

16 March—The CCD Executive met by telephone conference call to discuss matters relating to the year end.

21 March—Laurie Beachell met with Nancy Milroy-Swainson, Director General of the Office for Disability Issues, in Ottawa to discuss the renewal of the Social Development Partnerships Program and community engagement on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

22 March—Minister Flaherty presented the Government of Canada’s Budget to the House of Commons. CCD issued a press release drawing Canadians’ attention to the issue of disability poverty and the need for Canada to increase support to Canadians with disabilities living in poverty.

23 March—Marie White (Past CCD Chairperson and Chair of the Social Policy Committee) presented the keynote address at an interdepartmental meeting in Ottawa on the CRPD, attended by over 30 government departments and agencies. Steve Estey, Vangelis Nikias and Anna MacQuarrie also presented on the CRPD. At this meeting, community members called for the Canadian Human Rights Commission to be appointed by the Government of Canada as the monitoring mechanism, which is required by the CRPD.

24 March —Vangelis Nikias presented an educational session on the CRPD to the Alberta Disability Forum.

25 March—The Co-chairs of the Access to Technology Committee John Rae and Gary Birch met by telephone conference call to plan a committee meeting for the end of April in Winnipeg.

26 March—As the opposition parties refused to support the Federal Budget, Canadians are counting down the days until 2 May, when voters go to the polls. The Governor General, on Saturday, 26 March 2011, dissolved the Fortieth Parliament and gave instructions to issue writs of election. During this election, CCD is seeking candidates’ support on issues of critical importance to the disability community—CRPD, disability poverty, employment and access and inclusion.

March 25 and March 28—CCD became aware of the Rasouli case which is an end of life case challenging doctors’ power to withdraw life sustaining treatment against the wishes of a patient’s family. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) invited CCD to partner with it and seek intervener status in the case. As this is an end of life case, the court proceedings have been put on a fast track. Representatives from the CCD Human Rights Committee and the Ending of Life Committee met by telephone conference call several times this month to discuss CCD’s options on this case. Due to the constraints posed by the short time line, it was decided that it would not be feasible for CCD to intervene.

30 March—The Technical Advisory Group (TAG), which is co-chaired by Laurie Beachell, met in Ottawa to discuss with government officials the data needs of the disability community. The TAG has been meeting since the Government decided to abandon the PALS survey and develop a new method for collecting data on people with disabilities.

31 March—Laurie Beachell and Jim Derksen met with representatives of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to continue CCD’s on-going efforts to assist the Museum develop in an accessible and inclusive manner.