CCD Chairperson's Update - February 2013

ODI Meets with National Groups

On 21-22 February 2013, Laurie Beachell and Vangelis Nikias participated in meetings of the 18 national disability organizations funded by ODI.  The meetings focused on the funding programs, social enterprise and accountability measures.  This meeting provided an opportunity for planning the conversation that was to take place the following week with the HUMA Committee.

HUMA Committee

On 28 February 2013, Laurie Beachell and Vangelis Nikias appeared before the House of Commons HUMA Committee to present CCD’s recommendations on employment.  Employment was only one of the topics that CCD discussed with MPs during the month of February; housing was another issue. 

Bill 400 - Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act

This month, in collaboration with community groups concerned about shelter, CCD rallied support for Bill 400.  CCD encouraged its supporters to contact their MPs and encourage them to vote in support of Bill 400.  The Bill would ensure that the Federal Government assumes a leadership role in developing a strategy to address the crisis of homelessness in Canada.  The Bill is supported by all three opposition parties.  Community organizations are hopeful that this Bill will be sent to a House of Commons committee for further debate.

Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship

The research project’s steering committee, Yvonne Peters, Michael Prince, Marie White and Laurie Beachell, met by conference call to plan the final stage of the project.  The group is working toward the development of a paper which would summarize all the results of the project.  Later on in the year, the project will be sharing results with policy decision makers. 

Accessible Elections

CCD continues to work with Elections Canada to make the electoral process more accessible to people with disabilities.  CCD has been assisting Elections Canada develop a plan for a workshop where people with disabilities would share their perspectives as voters with disabilities with Elections Canada staff.

CRPD Awareness Project

On Thursday, 7 February 2013, Steve Estey, Chairperson of CCD’s International Committee, Vangelis Nikias, CRPD Project Manager, Laurie Beachell, and April D’Aubin had a teleconference to plan future CCD activities related to the CRPD.  CCD continues to monitor Canada’s implementation of the CRPD and the wait continues for Canada to submit its now overdue report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  It is rumored that the report will be released in the spring of this year. 

CCD is preparing for the shadow report process.  Shadow reports are a method for community organizations to supplement or present alternative information to the periodic government reports that States Parties are required to submit under treaties.  CCD is reviewing the shadow reports that have been prepared by disability organizations in Australia and Hungary and guidance documents prepared by organizations such as the International Disability Alliance, Disability Council International and One Billion Strong.  Steve Estey, Chairperson of CCD’s International Committee, has been educating the public about the power of shadow reports.

Examining Canada’s Human Rights Obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): How Can a Civil Society Shadow Report Improve Accountability?

On Thursday 14 February 2013, at the Munk School of Global Affairs, Steve Estey, Chair of CCD’s International Committee, participated in a panel presentation along with David Shannon (Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission) and Penny Hartin (World Blind Union).  Steve reviewed CCD’s recommendations to the Government of Canada regarding the CRPD.

CCD has called upon the Government of Canada to design a National Action Plan, for successful implementation of the CRPD.  CCD has recommended that a detailed implementation action plan would identify necessary mechanisms for collaboration, benchmarks for monitoring and reporting, and strategies for priority areas for action the disability community has identified, including: access to disability supports, poverty alleviation, labour force participation, accessibility and inclusion and international leadership by Canada on disability issues.  Through shadow reports the disability community will have the opportunity to share its perspective on both Canadian successes in advancing the status of Canadians with disabilities while at the same time acknowledge the gaps and barriers that remain.

Disability and Rights for Citizens (DRC) Project

The Centre for Independent Living in Toronto, ARCH Disability Law Centre, and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities are collaborating on the DRC project.  DRC will run 6-10 human rights educational workshops and create a series of plain language tools to be distributed to people with disabilities living in Toronto.  The workshops will educate people with disabilities with regards to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and how it affects them as citizens of Toronto. The plain language tools will meet the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) accessibility standards and be distributed in alternative formats. Vangelis Nikias is representing CCD on the DRC project.

CASHRA Conference

CCD will submit an abstract to the CASHRA conference.  CCD will be proposing to undertake a workshop about its work on the CRPD.  CASHRA is the national association of Canada's statutory agencies charged with administering federal, provincial and territorial human rights legislation.  The 2013 CASHRA conference will be hosted by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in Halifax from 29 - 31 May 2013.  The main theme for the 2013 conference is Renewing the Vision for Human Rights.  The focus will be on evolving substantive human rights and campaigns of public awareness that will provide forward-looking human rights leadership. 

Universal Periodic Review

CCD continues to collaborate with human rights groups focused on the Universal Periodic Review.  Some of the groups that are part of this ad hoc coalition are Canada Without Poverty, Amnesty International, and the Feminist Alliance for International Action.  As part of its contribution to the ongoing work of this group, CCD has developed a fact sheet detailing the current issues of people with disabilities.  Vangelis Nikias has taken on this work for CCD.

Development in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States? Lessons and Options for Canada

On 8 February 2013, Vangelis Nikias participated in a symposium at the University of Ottawa, which was designed to create space for constructive, evidence-based policy dialogue between NGOs, academics, and government officials on the development dimensions of Canada’s engagement in fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS).  Article 11 (Situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies) of the CRPD addresses how States Parties should respond to people with disabilities in times of crisis. Article 11 states, “States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.”

The Euthanasia File

CCD and CACL are joint interveners in the Carter case, which is seeking to remove Canada’s prohibitions against assisted suicide.  At the end of January, the Plaintiffs and the Respondents presented briefs to the court in which they took issue with particular points in the factums which the interveners have submitted to the court.  The appeal will be heard in March.  David Baker is counsel for CCD and CACL.  CCD’s Ending of Life Ethics Committee has been guiding CCD’s work on the Carter case.  Rhonda Wiebe and Dean Richert Co-chair the Committee.

On 2 February 2013, Ginette Leblanc, the 49-year-old Trois-Rivieres resident with ALS who had become the focus of the movement to legalize euthanasia in Quebec died of a stroke, bringing to an end her court case to overturn Canadian law against assisted suicide.  “It’s disturbing that the public supported Ms. Leblanc’s desire to commit suicide, while others who express a desire to die receive services to prevent them from killing themselves,” said Amy Hasbrouck, Director of Toujours Vivant – Not Dead Yet, a CCD project that focuses on ending of life issues.  Hasbrouck believes that if society has a policy to prevent suicides that policy should apply equally to all people.

During Suicide Prevention Week (3-9 February 2013), Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet questioned whether it’s appropriate for the Marois government to table legislation to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia.  “There is a striking contradiction here,” said Amy Hasbrouck, Director of Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet.  “As a society we’re saying some people should be prevented from killing themselves, while another group should be helped to do so.”  Hasbrouck believes this difference comes from fear, prejudice and discrimination. The Québec Association for Suicide Prevention has launched an awareness campaign “You’re Important to Us” to draw public attention to the 1,000 suicides that occur each year in Québec.  Hasbrouck wants the public to see people with disabilities as equally important, and deserving of aggressive efforts to prevent their suicides. However the Marois government, following the lead of the previous Liberal government, is moving forward with plans to help people with disabilities who are ‘suffering’ to commit suicide with a doctor’s help. “What does that tell us about the value that society puts on our lives if we are old, ill or disabled?” asks Hasbrouck. 

On 14 February 2013, Dean Richert, Amy Hasbrouck, Jim Derksen, Laurie Beachell and April D’Aubin met by conference call to discuss both the Carter case and the Province of Quebec’s stance on assisted suicide.  Quebec’s junior Health Minister Veronique Hivon has said that the Quebec government has the authority to pass a law allowing assisted suicide.  CCD’s Ending of Life Committee and Toujours Vivant – Not Dead Yet are monitoring Quebec’s response to the assisted suicide debate.

Touching Base

On 19 February 2013, CCD organized a conference call with the executive directors/provincial coordinators of its provincial member groups that receive HRSDC funds via CCD.  During the meeting, participants shared information about the financial situation of their organizations.  COD-NL has been hard hit this year, facing reductions in both federal and provincial funding.  Although the Board of Directors recommended closing the organization, the membership at a general meeting decided that COD-NL should continue and community members made plans for how the organization may be able to continue serving people with disabilities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Welcoming New Council Members

CCD welcomes to the National Council of Representatives Dr. Gregor Wolbring, who was appointed by the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada.  Some time ago, Gregor was a very active member of CCD’s Human Rights Committee.  CCD also welcomes David Storey, representing ACCD, to Council, replacing Doreen Gyorkos.  CCD wishes to thank Doreen for her volunteer work on behalf of CCD. 


In Financing Long-term care: More Money in the Mix (Caledon Institute, 2013), Sherri Torjman  argues that, “If there are any new funds to be found, they should go to the delivery of community-based supports and services.  The community support sector is so drastically underfunded right now that it requires a substantial infusion of dollars to improve both the quality and quantity of available supports, the need for which will only increase with an aging population.

Check out the Law Commission of Ontario’s report - The Law and Persons with Disabilities Final Report. It develops an evaluative framework based on a value of substantive equality for persons with disabilities. This framework will be helpful to people with disabilities advocating for reform.

Mark Your Calendar

12 March 2013 (Winnipeg, MB) - Government of Manitoba Minister Jennifer Howard, who has responsibility for disability issues, will be participating in a public forum to provide an update on provincial activities.  There will be a panel discussion on best practices which lead to the hiring and retention of persons with disabilities. (Location: Viscount Gort Hotel 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm).  For more information contact Brian Stewart.

12 -13 March 2013 (Vancouver, BC) - Embracing Ability: Redefining a Diverse Workforce.  For more information, please contact Karen Lai, Abilities in Mind Program Coordinator at 604-451-5511 x 1384.

4 April 2012 (Vancouver, BC) - Join BCCPD at their 35th Anniversary! BCCPD is throwing a community celebration for friends and colleagues on 4 April 2013 to mark the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities' 35th year of serving the disability community.  Global TV's Mark Madryga is the host for the evening of celebration and music. You'll also be wowed by world-renowned guitarist, Don Alder and entertainer/comic David C. Jones. All this, plus a salsa dancing performance! Plus, you will have the opportunity to bid on wonderful items in our Silent Auction, including: original art by PJ Artman, Bard on the Beach tickets, jewellery by Pandora, spa packages, and more! Door prizes, appetizer buffet and cash bar. Support BCCPD, share a story and a toast with us, and enjoy a very special evening. To purchase tickets call Nicole at BCCPD ‘s office. (Tel:  604-875-0188, BCCPD, #204 - 456 West Broadway, Vancouver BC V5Y 1R3).

26-28 April 2013 (Toronto, ON)- The 2013 AEBC Conference will take at the Cambridge Suites Hotel, downtown Toronto, Ontario. For more information contact AEBC.

Disabled Peoples' International North America and the Caribbean Office on Hiatus

The DPI Regional Office has been closed temporarily because Regional Development Officer Leslie Emanuel is on leave due to illness.  CCD wishes Leslie all the best during his recovery.