CCD Chairperson's Update: November 2011

During the month of November, many months of preparatory work paid high dividends, as several exciting initiatives were unveiled by CCD. In this Update, CCD shares information about the work that has been undertaken recently by CCD’s volunteers and staff.

End Exclusion 2011: Building an Inclusive and Accessible Canada

Honouring Our Allies--During an evening reception on 2 November 2011, CCD and leaders from the disability community recognized many of the political champions from across the political spectrum who have worked over the past three decades to end the exclusion of people with disabilities from the mainstream of Canadian society. CCD honoured the contributions to the disability community made by the Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien, the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney, Senator David Smith, the Hon. Jake Epp, the Hon. Carolyn Bennett, the Hon. Steven Fletcher, the Hon. Diane Finley, the Hon. Jim Flaherty, and the Hon. Diane Finley. In attendance were: - the Hon. Steven Fletcher, Minister of State for Transport, the Hon. Carolyn Bennett, MP (St. Paul’s, ON), Shelly Glover MP (St. Boniface, MB), Dr. Kellie Leitch, MP (Simcoe-Grey, ON), Senator David Smith and Senator Janis Johnson.

Symposium on Poverty--Over the past 30 years, Canadians with disabilities have realized broader access to public transportation and protection from discrimination. However, many are still forced to live in poverty – some on less than $12,000 per year. On 3 November 2011 during a day-long symposium delegates examined poverty reduction strategies and focused issues identified in the latest research, including what one author calls the “welfareization” of disability benefits in Canada. Keynote addresses were presented by Michael Prince, Co-principal Researcher for CCD’s “Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship” project, Laurence Parent, DAWN Canada, and John Stapleton, Open Policy Ontario. The symposium was a vehicle for sharing the results of CCD’s Community University Research Alliance funded research project, “Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship”.

CCD Launches New Publication—The participants at End Exclusion were the first to receive copies of CCD’s new publication Celebrating Our Accomplishments. In this anthology, 61 community leaders explain how and why Canadians with disabilities have been moving steadily from the margins and into the mainstream of Canadian life. People with disabilities and their organizations have partnered with business, government and civil society organizations to develop and implement solutions to barriers preventing people with disabilities from contributing fully to Canadian society. The authors reveal how and why Canadians now enjoy inclusive education, community living opportunities, accessible transportation, the Registered Disability Savings Plan, to name only a few examples.

CCD has written to all Members of Parliament and shared this new publication with them so they have the opportunity to learn how supporting the voice of people with disabilities has made Canada a more accessible and inclusive country, which is affording more and more people with disabilities the opportunity to contribute to their communities. CCD also profiled the publication in Abilities magazine, including an excerpt of an article authored by Jim Roots and Henry Vlug titled “Just A Deaf Thing”, which describes how the Canadian Association of the Deaf has innovated services and practices that are now used and enjoyed by Canadians who are not part of the Deaf community. Of course, the captioning of television programs is the example that immediately comes to mind, because many of us are enjoying this feature on televisions in restaurants, bars, airports, etc. Thank you to Jim and Henry for this excellent article and thank you to the other authors as well. With 61 different contributors, there are too many to thank individually in this newsletter. Each contribution served to enrich the publication and each in a different way demonstrated the value that accrues from supporting the self-representational voice of people with disabilities.

Celebrating Our Accomplishments is available on the CCD web site. A second volume is in the works. Submissions of 400 words are being accepted by the CCD office. You still have the opportunity to share your personal reflections on innovations which have eliminated barriers for Canadians with disabilities.

Executive Committee Meeting

The CCD Executive Committee met by Conference Call on 23 November 2011. A Nominating Committee was established and Mary Ennis volunteered to chair the Committee. To communicate with Mary about the Nominating Committee’s business email her at

Foreign Affairs

On 4 November 2011, Steve Estey, Chairperson of CCD’s International Development Committee, met with Mr. Paul Hong, who is a senior advisor on human rights in the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This was an opportunity for CCD to share its views on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and how it is applicable to the Department’s mandated activities.

CRTC Submission

CCD submitted a brief to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, addressing Bell Canada’s proposal for the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund. In its submission, CCD emphasized measures to ensure consumer control, accountability, equal participation and ways to redress power imbalance.

Elections Canada

In the summer, CCD began a project with Elections Canada (EC) to advise EC on outreach measures. As voter participation in elections is waning, EC is reaching out to Canadians to encourage them to vote. As part of this process, EC is studying how it undertakes outreach to the community of persons with disabilities. On 30 November 2011, CCD met with EC’s Lisa Worthington and Mark Montreuil to discuss barriers that need to be addressed when undertaking outreach to members of the disability community.

Meeting with the Continuing Committee of Officials on Human Rights

CCD attended a meeting of the Continuing Committee of Officials on Human Rights on 22 November 2011 in Ottawa. CCD was represented by Vangelis Nikias, CRPD Project Manager. The focus of this meeting was sharing input with regard to Canada’s upcoming appearances before two United Nations’ human rights treaty bodies: the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and before the Committee against Torture (CAT). Canada will appear before the CERD in February and before the CAT in May. The meeting provided community members with an opportunity to share their viewpoint with the Continuing Committee and build a working relationship with its members.

RDSP Review

On 21 October 2011, the Hon. Jim Flaherty announced a review of the Registered Disability Saving Plan (RDSP). “It is important for those who benefit from these plans to give their input, so that RDSPs continue to accurately reflect and address their true needs,” said Minister Flaherty.

This month, Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator, participated in a consultation conducted by the Department of Finance on the RDSP. CCD will submit a brief to the review.

ILC’s UN Day of Persons with Disabilities Celebration

Vangelis Nikias, CRPD Project Manager, spoke at Independent Living Canada’s (ILC) Celebration that was held on 24 November 2011. Vangelis presented an overview of the CRPD, focusing on progressive realization, the meaning of compliance and Article 19 (Living independently and being included in the community) and monitoring. The Hon. Diane Finely, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, also spoke at this event. Minister Finley’s comments also focused on the CRPD.


In June and in October, CCD met with officials from the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies to discuss mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This month, CCD received an invitation from the Manitoba Human Rights Commission to speak at the 2012 CASHRA Conference which will be held in Winnipeg and which will investigate the question “Are We There Yet?” The conference will celebrate successes which have been achieved in the field of human rights and it will also identify barriers to the eradication of discrimination in the workplace, schools, healthcare system and elsewhere.

BC Assisted Suicide Case

The Ending of Life Ethics Committee has been monitoring the BC Supreme Court case, Carter v. Attorney General of Canada, which is challenging Canada’s law prohibiting assisted suicide. CCD issued a press release noting that last year the House of Commons defeated a Private Members’ Bill seeking to legalize assisted suicide and expressing the hope that the court takes note of this decision made by the elected representatives of the people of Canada. CCD will continue to monitor the case, as well as, Canadian policies and practices on end-of-life issues.

Commonwealth Secretariat

This month Steve Estey, Chairperson of CCD’s International Development Committee, received an invitation from the Commonwealth Secretariat to attend a Round Table on inclusive education and sustainable employment for people with disabilities in the Commonwealth, 10-11 January 2011. The Round Table will bring together experts from states, national protection mechanisms, and NGOs to deliberate on the initiatives undertaken with respect to inclusive education and sustainable employment, identifying gaps and challenges, as well as ways to better promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities in the Commonwealth.