CCD Chairperson's Update - May 2013

Prime Minister’s Office to CCD: No Intention of Reopening Assisted Suicide Debate

On 9 May, 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office wrote to CCD about euthanasia and assisted suicide.  The Prime Minister’s office informed CCD that,

“We appreciated the opportunity to review your perspective and understand the importance of this issue to the disabled community.  Please know that your efforts to foster an inclusive and accessible Canada are greatly valued.

Our Government believes that the Criminal Code provisions that prohibit medical professionals, or anyone else, from counselling or providing assistance in a suicide, are constitutionally valid.  The laws surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide exist to protect all Canadians, especially those who are most vulnerable, such as the elderly, sick or disabled.

In 2010, a large majority of Parliamentarians ultimately voted not to change such laws.  We will respect that decision, and have no intention of reopening this debate.”

Meeting with Finance Committee

On 7 May 2013, Carmela Hutchison, CCD Executive Committee member, represented CCD and DAWN-RAFH Canada before the House of Commons Committee on Finance.  Carmela is also the President of DAWN Canada.  The Committee also invited as witnesses Ms. Anne Reid, President of the Canadian Medical Association and Ms. Jennifer Frain, President of the Canadian Psychological Association.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance was holding hearings as part of its Study of Bill C-462, An Act restricting the fees charged by promoters of the disability tax credit and making consequential amendments to the Tax Court of Canada Act. 

During her presentation, Carmela commented that CCD and DAWN support the intent of Bill C-462 and agree that people with disabilities should have their rightful entitlement protected from unfair fees charged by financial promoters.  “Disability Tax Credit eligibility is a critical issue for people with disabilities as it has become the gate for determining eligibility for a variety of benefits.  Thus, we must ensure unencumbered and fair access,” said Carmela.

Meeting with Phil McColeman, MP about Employment and People with Disabilities

MP Phil McColeman invited CCD to attend a round-table discussion about the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities on 15 May 2013.  Rod Bruinooge, MP, accompanied Mr. McColeman.  Also in attendance were People First, the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities and other disability community groups, a representatives from post-secondary education, a Manitoba Federation of Labour representative, representatives from the Aboriginal community, and representatives from the construction and trucking industries.  Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley had been scheduled to attend but the death of her husband on 11 May 2013 meant that she was unable to attend. 

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities (LMAPDs) can be transformed to better address the concerns of people with disabilities.  Mr. McColeman was seeking input from community members on:
Objectives and principles that will underpin the transformed LMAPDs;
Priority areas for programming;
Specific types of programs that could be eligible for funding; and
Effective ways of engaging employers and disability community organizations.

Other consultations will be held across Canada.

Tune In and Tune Up for Human Rights

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights kicked-off its Educational Partnerships for Human Rights on 8 May 2013.  Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator, was a guest at the kickoff breakfast.  The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) is partnering with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) to develop a human rights curriculum.  There will also be a national initiative for high schools, called “Canadian Defenders for Human Rights”, which is a partnership between the CMHR, the CTF, Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights.  During the breakfast, Gail Asper reiterated the Museum’s commitment to exceed the access standards established by the US Smithsonian Museum.

CCIC Annual Forum and 45th Annual General Meeting 23-24 MAY 2013

The Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) is a coalition of Canadian voluntary sector organizations supporting global development.  Yearly, CCIC member organizations convene for the Annual CCIC Forum and AGM to discuss, debate and strategize around the most pressing issues for civil society and international development.  This year’s forum focused on how development and social transformation is a shared responsibility.  The Forum provided an opportunity for civil society organizations from across the country to discuss the future of the sector in Canada.  Vangelis Nikias represented CCD at the meeting. 

CASHRA 2013: Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRPD): Do 1 Billion People have the Right to Inclusion?

Steve Estey and Vangelis Nikias participated on a panel at the CASHRA 2012 conference, where they addressed individual and collective rights as well as a comprehensive framework to both monitor and implement the Convention on the Rights to Persons with Disabilities.  Steve and Vangelis shared with conference participants how the CRPD can assist people with disabilities, who are one billion strong, achieve our goals for access and inclusion.  David Shannon, a former member of CCD’s International Committee and now Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, moderated the session.

Briefing on the UPR

On 7 May 2013, in Ottawa, Vangelis Nikias was an observer at a briefing about the Universal Periodic Review that was held for Senators.

Disability and Rights for Citizens Project

On 6 May 2013, Vangelis Nikias presented another workshop on the CRPD in Toronto for the Disability and Rights for Citizens Project.

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund

CCD has registered so that it can participate in the election of the two independent accessibility directors of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (BAF).  The other accessibility directors are to be elected by the communities of persons with sight, hearing, mobility, and cognitive impairments.

The BAF will:
act as an independent funding body for innovative projects that provide platform-neutral solutions to promote accessibility of broadcasting content in Canada;
fund only projects that are incremental to the existing Canadian regulatory obligations of the broadcasting industry;
Fund practical and cost-effective solutions that increase accessibility in broadcasting.

Springtime March Against Euthanasia

Vivre dans la dignité, the Rassemblement Québecois contre l'euthanasie and Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet organized the Springtime March Against Euthanasia in Quebec City.  The theme was “Euthanasia in our province? No thanks!” 

Amy Hasbrouck of Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet, a project of CCD, participated in the event which occurred on 19 March 2013.  She brought to the attention of participants and the media the following concerns with regard to assisted suicide:

People with disabilities are the population most directly affected by assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Disability discrimination is a major factor behind the push for such laws, and the causes of suicidal feelings among people with disabilities.

Such laws create a double standard, where non-disabled people who express suicidal feelings are given services to prevent a suicide, while people with disabilities with similar feelings are allowed, even helped to kill themselves.

Financial and social pressures, including abuse, can drive elders and people with disabilities to suicide.

Québecers have rejected capital punishment because of the possibility that even one person might be wrongfully convicted and killed.

Lack of access to palliative care and home-based personal care services controlled by the individual can drive people toward suicide.  People with disabilities should not be sacrificed to poor policy choices.

People already have the right to refuse treatment, make advance directives and appoint a substitute decision maker.

Until people with disabilities enjoy full safety and equality in all facets of community life, no amount of safeguards can prevent misapplication of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

New Videos on CCD Website

Check out new videos on the CCD.  In one, Vangelis Nikias participates in a conversation about disability rights and the interplay between international and domestic law.  In another, Human Rights Committee members Yvonne Peters, Ravi Malhotra, Gwen Brodsky discuss the effect of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Moore case.

Collaborating with Ottawa Colleagues

On 2-3 May 2013, Laurie Beachell met with Vangelis Nikias and others in Ottawa to discuss issues on the CCD agenda. 

May Meetings

CCD Executive Committee - The CCD Executive Committee met to plan the Council and Annual General Meetings.

CCD Human Rights Committee - The CCD Human Rights Committee met to discuss how the Committee will organize its workload during the 2013-14 fiscal year.

CURA Team - Michael Prince, Michal Bach, Marie Ryan, Tyler Hnatuk and Laurie Beachell met by conference to review the research project’s progress to date.

Year-end Activities

CCD’s auditor spent several days on-site at the CCD office reviewing CCD’s accounting practices.

Upcoming Events

2013 PSAC National Equity Conferences - The 2013 PSAC National Equity Conferences, for PSAC members, will be held November 18 to 22, 2013 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel (123 Queen Street West Toronto, Ontario).  The Registration deadline is Friday, June 7, 2013, 4:00 p.m.  In addition to other gatherings, there will be a National Conference for Members with Disabilities and its objectives are:

To ensure the workplace is 100% accessible and to promote and communicate 100% accessibility and inclusivity in all spheres of society.
To empower MWD by providing education on employment issues for MWD and how federal cuts directly affect MWD.
To provide resources and tools for members in areas of mental health, bullying and harassment.

The registration package is available upon request in alternative format through the PSAC Programs Section by phoning 613-560-5457.

For more information call 613-560-5457or email

New Resource

Project Aspiro - A new career planning and employment web resource, Project Aspiro, is now available for people who are blind or partially sighted. The website has career planning tools, tips sheets, success stories, and links to programs and services, etc. Project Aspiro also has advice and tips for friends and family, service providers, and employers. Written in clear language, accessible and consumer validated, Project Aspiro is a joint initiative of the CNIB and World Blind Vision. Check out: