CCD Chairperson's Update - March 2013

The Federal Budget: What Does It Mean for Canadians with Disabilities?

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty did not forget Canadians with disabilities when he delivered the federal budget on 21 March 2013.  The Harper Government used the budget to address a number of concerns important to people with disabilities: training, jobs, the Registered Disability Savings Plan, tax relief on home care services, library services for person with vision impairment and changes to income support measures for veterans with disabilities.  As employment is one of CCD’s priorities, the organization welcomed the focus on labour market initiatives.

CCD was pleased to see the extension of the Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities, and that the Enabling Accessibility Fund and the Opportunities Fund have been made permanent programs.   The Government of Canada suggested that there will be a “transformation” of these programs to better meet the needs of employers and people with disabilities.  The Federal Government will be making a time-limited $2 million dollar investment in an Employers’ Forum, which will focus on increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  “Good programs result when people with disabilities are directly engaged in their development.  We look forward to Canadians with disabilities and our organizations being engaged in the work of the Employers’ Disability Forum,” said Tony Dolan National Chairperson of CCD.  Read more.

CCD in BC Court of Appeal

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) opposes the legalization of assisted suicide and along with the Canadian Association for Community Living was granted intervener status in the Carter case, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide. 

On 19 March 2013, David Baker made oral arguments during the appeal of the Carter case on behalf of co-interveners CCD/CACL.  His comments focused on how legalization of assisted suicide would violate guarantees made to Canadians in Section 7 (Life, Liberty and Security of the Person) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The Court restricted CCD to pursuing arguments based upon Section 7 and directed the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition to focus on Section 15 arguments.  CCD’s written arguments are presented in its factum. CCD’s Ending of Life Ethics Committee has coordinated CCD’s work on the Carter case.

‟Allowing assisted suicide and euthanasia creates a double standard,” said Dean Richert, Chair of CCD’s Ending of Life Ethics Committee, who noted that virtually all people who have lost their lives from assisted suicide have a disability.  ‟When non-disabled people say they want to kill themselves, society mobilizes to prevent their suicides, in keeping with Canadian values of interdependence and mutual support.  However when ill and disabled people ask to die, the helping hand only pushes them toward death” said Richert.  Read more.

Canada’s MPs Hear from CCD about Our Opposition to Assisted Suicide

The appeal of the Carter case has focussed Canadians’ attention on assisted suicide, once again.  CCD wrote to Canada’s MPs to explain why assisted suicide would be a bad idea for Canadians with disabilities.  In its letter to MPs, CCD stated, “Legalized assisted suicide creates a double standard.  For people at the end of their life and people with disabilities there is assisted suicide and for everyone else assisted suicide is discouraged through suicide prevention measures.  CCD opposes the creation of this double standard, because it reinforces disability discrimination.” Read more.

Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet Making Connections

During the period leading up the appeal of the Carter case, Amy Hasbrouck, Toujours Vivant – Not Dead Yet, was in British Columbia sharing disability rights arguments against the legalization of assisted suicide. 

Amy Hasbrouck and Norm Kunc were part of a stand-out in front of the BC Court of Appeal on Monday, 18 March 2013. 

Norm Kunc has made an animated video, “Euthanasia at the Water Cooler,” which challenges misconceptions about autonomy and assisted suicide.  Diane Coleman, Not Dead Yet (USA), commented, “This video touches on many key issues. The Oregon Reports on assisted suicide only tell us what the prescribing doctors indicated were the patients’ reasons for wanting assisted suicide on a multiple choice form. One of the reasons is feelings of being a burden on others, checked in 39% of the cases, with no corresponding requirement that home care options be disclosed as part of informed consent, much less that they be offered or funded. The video brings out, what kind of choice is that?”

Being Aware Is Being Empowered

On 8 March 2013, Vangelis Nikias spoke at the University of Waterloo about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  In his presentation, Vangelis explained how an informed and mobilized disability community, working with its friends and supporters, can, progressively, achieve an inclusive society. The implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an integral part of this effort.  The group, UW Enable, organized the event.

Disability Rights: The Conversation between International Law and Domestic Law

On 19 March 2013, the Human Rights Research and Education Centre hosted a panel discussion which focussed on how the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) could have an effect on Canadian laws and policies.  The panelists were Harvey Goldberg, Vangelis Nikias and Allan McChesney.  Sonya Nigam moderated the session.  During the Panel, Harvey noted that the following barriers are reducing the effectiveness of the CRPD in Canada: the federal/provincial division of responsibilities in Canada; international treaties are not incorporated into Canadian law; weak jurisprudence and no appointment of an independent monitoring mechanism, as called for in the CRPD. Vangelis titled his presentation “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for an Accessible and Inclusive Society: The Role of Canadian Advocacy Groups.”   During his presentation, Vangelis stated, “It is CCD’s view that the CRPD sets a framework for new policy development and creates a government obligation through the “ progressive realization “ clause for continuous improvements and removal of barriers that will make Canada more inclusive and accessible.  Progressive realization is not a postponement strategy but rather a positive obligation for moving forward to improve the status of Canadians with disabilities.  This is the combined effect of Articles 4.2 and 28 of the Convention.” 

Canadian Museum for Human Rights Rooted in Learning

On 7 March 2013, representatives from the disability community concerned about access met with representatives from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  Participating in the meeting were: John Rae (Co-chair of CCD’s Access to Technology Committee), Jim Derksen (a member of CCD’s Human Rights Committee) Valerie Wolbert (a member of the MLPD Provincial Council), Laurence Parent, Rick Zimmer, Judy Redmond, Brian Everton, Laurie Beachell.  Among other topics, the participants reviewed the Museum’s five-year strategic plan for education.  The Museum is considering both onsite programming and an online component.  The Museum is seeking to become a leader in human rights education by meeting the needs and expectations of students and educators.  During the meeting participants emphasized the need for educational programming which is grounded in the social model of disability, uses plain language and avoids technological barriers.

Spotlight on the Independent Living Centre (ILC) of Waterloo Region

On 8 March 2013, Vangelis Nikias met with Bill Smith, the Executive Director of the ILC.  Bill gave Vangelis an overview of the exciting work that is being done to advance independent living in the Waterloo region.  Check out the ILC’s video spotlight to learn more about the Centre from Sharron, a consumer who has both worked at the Centre and participated in its programs. 

Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship CURA Team Meeting

On Thursday, 21 March 2013, Michael Prince, Yvonne Peters, Michael Bach, Laurie Beachell, met to plan the final phase of the project.  The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) extended this project by one year so CCD will have more time to draft policy proposals it will be able to share with governments seeking to address poverty.  The project will end 3 December 2014.

TAG – We’re Counting on It

On 22 March 2012, Laurie Beachell participated in the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) which is advising on the development of Canada’s newest data base on people with disabilities, which will replace the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS).  Following the meeting Laurie reported that he is impressed with the direction the work has taken and expects that the new data base will be easier for community groups to access. 

CCD Executive Committee Working on Future Plans

The CCD Executive Committee met on 14 March 2013 to work on fund raising plans, the Annual report and the next Council meeting. 

Thank You to Indiegogo Donors

CCD’s Help to Live Not Die fund raising campaign received $5,663 in donations and an additional $1,200 was received from donors who sent cheques directly to CCD.  Cheques continue to come in the mail.  Donations will be applied to legal fees from the intervention in the appeal of the Carter case, which is challenging Canada’s law against assisted suicide.  CCD thanks the following online donors, as well as those who chose to remain anonymous: AB Captioning and Cart, Anna P, Laurie Beachell, Max Beck, Gary Birch, Janice Burdon, Richard Burelle, Marcia Carroll, D. Coleman, Pat Danforth, April D’Aubin, Jim Derksen, Tony Del Buono, Steven Estey, Allan Etmanski, Brian Everton, Patrick Falconer, Ralph Ferguson, Rose A. Flaig, Yutta Fricke, Adele Furrie, Rick Goodfellow, Harvey Goldberg, Amy Hasbrouck, Kathie Horne, Independent Living Resource Centre Winnipeg, Judywl, Chad Leaman, Rod Lauder, Laurie Larson, Maryse Lairot, John Lord, Dorothy Kitchen, Lynn, Scott Macauley, Allen Mankewich, Valerie Marsh, David Martin, Marijo Martin, Anne McPhee, Michelle Murdoch, Gail Nestel, Mary Reid, John Rietschlin, Arlene Sawicz, Meenu Sikand, Clare Simpson, Robert Turnbull, John Toone, Gordon Wallace, Jacqueline Wasney, David Wright, Zana2.

Friend and Ally Retires from HRSDC

This month Patricia Derrick retired from her position at HRSDC.  Patricia has been a long-term ally of the Canadian disability rights community.  Along with Jim Derksen and others, Patricia worked with the 1981 Special Parliamentary Committee on the Disabled and the Handicapped (Yes, that is what it was called.), which produced the Obstacles Report, which helped begin Canada’s shift away from the rehabilitation model toward the social model of disability and a human rights approach toward disability.  Thanks for your hard work on disability rights!

Nick Ternette, MLPD Council Member and Transportation Committee Chair, Dies at 68

Nick Ternette was a Winnipeg original, who campaigned tirelessly for social justice.  He ran for mayor five times but was never elected.  In 2009, following a bout with flesh eating disease, Ternette became a wheelchair user.  Rather than curtailing his advocacy work, Ternette began to speak out about disability issues.  He was elected to the Provincial Council of the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) and became the chairperson of the MLPD Transportation Committee.  "Nick continued advocating for accessible transportation from his home for the MLPD up until three weeks before he passed away. That is really beyond the call of duty," stated Diane Driedger, Provincial Coordinator of the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities.  Always an educator, Nick invited members of the Winnipeg media to observe his day-to-day routines to dispel myths about life with a disability and build public support for policies advancing access and inclusion.  Nick established a fund at the Winnipeg Foundation to continue his social justice work.  CCD extends condolences to Nick’s wife, Emily, and to the members and staff of MLPD. Read more.

Ray Cohen, Abilities Founder, Dies at 64

On 22 March 2013 Ray Cohen passed away.  Ray was the founder and CEO of the Canadian Abilities Foundation and editor of Abilities magazine.  Abilities reports that, “In recent months, Raymond had been struggling bravely through a heavy regimen of treatments for a hidden disability that had affected his health for many years. However, his condition turned for the worse quite suddenly.”  By founding Abilities, Ray ensured that there was a space where Canada’s disability community could share its ongoing story with the world.  CCD expresses condolences to Ray’s family and the staff and board of Abilities.

Countdown to the Coming of Age Conference– The Dialogue Continues

There is still time to register for the Coming of Age conference.  CCD’s member group People First of Canada is one of the partners organizing this conference which takes place 18-20 April 2013 in Winnipeg.  Online registration is at

CACL Launches Ready, Willing & Able Website

The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) launched a new website, Ready, Willing & Able.  The website is a tool to advance labour force inclusion for the approximately 500,000 working age adults with intellectual disabilities who with targeted support, community investment and employer leadership could join the labour force at rates similar to other Canadians.

New Resource

It’s More than Poverty - United Way Toronto’s newest report, It’s More than Poverty: Employment Precarity and Household Well-being examines dramatic changes in precarious employment over the last few decades, revealing that only sixty percent of all workers in the region have stable, secure jobs. In addition to looking at the impact of precarious employment on individuals, the report also looked at its harmful effect on families and communities.  Read more.