Chairperson's Update - October 2013

CCD Invited to Throne Speech

Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator, received an invitation from the Prime Minister's Office to be in the Senate Chamber when the Governor General read the Speech from the Throne on 16 October 2013.  During a reception that was held on Parliament Hill, Laurie had the opportunity to meet with a number of MPs and Senators and make them aware of CCD’s current priorities: employment, poverty eradication, disability-related supports, citizenship. 

CCD’s Employment Agenda

In preparation for the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Meeting of Ministers responsible for employment, the Social Policy Committee met on 2 October 2013 by conference call to refine CCD’s employment message.  The result is a new document titled "Transforming Systems - a New Approach", which shares a number of priorities and steps that we believe should be taken to make Canada's labour force more inclusive and accessible.

On 23 October 2013, CCD held a conference call meeting with its provincial/territorial member groups to discuss "Transforming Systems - a New Approach. 

CCD shared the document with the Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and the provincial and territorial ministers received it via our member group network. 

Transportation Committee

On 18 October 2013, Pat Danforth, Chairperson of CCD’s Transportation Committee, responded by letter to a draft resource tool prepared by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) for carriers and travelers with disabilities.

International Human Rights

On 17 October 2013, Vangelis Nikias attended a consultation focused on international human rights, where there was a very useful exchange between Foreign Affairs and NGO colleagues.  The meeting focused on the most recent sessions of the Human Rights Council (23-24 June 2013) and Canadian priorities and positions for the 3rd Committee meetings of the General Assembly in the fall.

Update on CRPD Project

CCD is pleased to announce the CRPD project, which is managed by Vangelis Nikias, has been extended until March 2014.  If you would like Vangelis to participate in an event that you will be holding, please contact him by phone (613-738-8881) or by email (

Canadians with Disabilities Celebrate Ruling against Assisted Suicide

CCD is pleased by the 10 October 2013 British Columbia Court of Appeal ruling in Carter v. Canada opposing assisted suicide.  CCD and the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) intervened in the case.

In a press release, CCD and CACL urged the Supreme Court of Canada to refuse leave to appeal this decision.  The organizations are of the view that the Carter case, because of the inadequacy of its record, is not the case on which this issue should be decided.

The Supreme Court of Canada in the Rodriguez case got our message. They were entirely focused on the threat to persons with disabilities and thus denied Sue Rodriguez’s request for assistance to end her life.

CACL and CCD intervened in this appeal in order to ensure that the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in Rodriguez not be overturned and to oppose any change in the Criminal Code that would enable a system of physician-assisted suicide.

CCD’s Ending of Life Ethics Committee met by conference call to prepare CCD’s response to the decision in the Carter case.

CCD was also pleased by the decision in the Rasouli case.  The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that doctors do not have the ultimate say on withdrawing treatment.  The decision is a victory for patient rights.  Hugh Scher, the lawyer for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, an intervener in the case, stated, “We are pleased that the Supreme Court has recognized the need for oversight of doctors relative to treatment decisions at the end of life.  The Court decision ensures that patient values, beliefs and best interests are given prominence, in conjunction with the clinical considerations of doctors”.  

Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet Testifies Against Euthanasia

On 8 October 2013, Christian Debray and Amy Hasbrouck appeared before the Quebec Commission on Health and Social Services to present arguments, grounded in disability rights, against euthanasia. 

Please follow the link for the presentation, which was made in French.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) Addressing Access and Inclusion

On 22 October 2013, Jim Derksen, member of the CCD Human Rights Committee, John Rae, Co-chair of the Access to Technology Committee, and Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator, participated in a meeting of the CMHR’s Inclusive Design Advisory Committee.  Wayfinding was one of the main discussion topics during the meeting.  A highlight for the committee members was a tour of the Museum, which is still under construction.  The Museum will open in September 2014. 

Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet Call for Stories / Video project

Supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide don’t understand the pressures that make some people with disabilities ask for help to die.  Bad living conditions, the message that our lives aren’t worth living, lack of good and timely medical care (including pain relief), abuse and family pressures, can all push us toward asking to die.

These problems are not the fault of our disabilities, they are problems with the society.  People with disabilities should not have to die because of social problems.

The only people who can explain this to supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide are people with disabilities who face these social problems on a daily basis.

It took people with disabilities telling their stories to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.  It will take people with disabilities telling their stories to stop euthanasia and assisted suicide.

We want to hear your story if any of these things has happened to you:

  • You’ve been told by friends, family or strangers that you’d be better off dead.
  • You’ve been told by friends or family that you are a burden and the family would be better off without you.
  • You’ve outlived one or more medical prognoses.
  • You are stuck in an institution and sometimes feel like you want to die.
  • You are isolated at home without adequate services or the ability to get out, work, go to school, get around, and you sometimes feel like you want to die.
  • You have been neglected or abused at home or in an institution, and you sometimes feel like you want to die.
  • You were offered euthanasia or assisted suicide by family, friends or medical professionals.
  • You felt low and depressed but couldn’t get help.
  • A therapist or counsellor said your problems were caused by your disability, instead of looking at your living situation or other social factors.
  • You received slow or half-hearted medical care because of your disability.
  • You had a “do not resuscitate” order put on your medical chart without your knowledge or consent.
  • You were pressured to sign a “do not resuscitate” order, meaning you were asked many times, or the medical staff encouraged you to sign it.

We would like you to make a short (<5 minutes) video describing one such situation. We can help you make the video, and we can hide your identity if you prefer.  We would use the video to show how people with disabilities are vulnerable to euthanasia and assisted suicide laws.  If you want to help, please contact us on facebook, by twitter @tigrlily61 email or call Amy at 450-921-3057.

Women’s Forum des Femmes 2013

Vangelis Nikias, CRPD Project Manager, participated in the Women’s Forum des Femmes 2013 in Ottawa, on Tuesday, 29 October, 2013 at the Government Conference Centre.  The theme for the forum was “Fighting the Inequality Agenda”.  The event's goal was renewed collaboration and solidarity among all generations to fight for women’s rights and gender equality.

Article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities focuses on the human rights of women with disabilities and states,

“1. States Parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement and empowerment of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the present Convention.”

CCD Makes Gift to Manitoba Archives

CCD has donated its historical records to the Manitoba Archives so they will be available to researchers interested in CCD’s work since 1976.  Disabled Peoples’ International has also donated its early records to the Manitoba Archives.

New Developments

Private Members’ Bill - Mike Sullivan, M.P. York South-Weston, informed CCD that on 21 October 2013, he introduced a Private Members’ Bill in the House of Commons to amend the Criminal Code to prohibit the spread of hate against persons with disabilities.  The bill will serve to amend Subsection (318) of the Criminal Code, by changing the definition of "identifiable groups" to include those with disabilities.  If passed in the House of Commons, it would prohibit propagation of hatred towards persons living with disabilities.  Mr. Sullivan explained that his Private Members’ Bill was in response to the letter received by Karla and James Begley which suggested that they should euthanize their son Max, who is autistic. 

New Speaker with a Disability – Ralph Fergusson, CCD’s Council member from Nova Scotia, shared some good news: MLA Kevin Murphy, a wheelchair user, will be the Speaker of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly.  The Halifax Chronicle Herald reported that, “Murphy a small business owner, recently worked with former Speaker Gordie Gosse on the issue of accessibility of MLA offices. Murphy, who's in a wheelchair, successfully lobbied MLAs from all three parties as co-founder of the of the James McGregor Stewart Society to ensure MLA offices in future would be barrier-free.”

New Website- Frank Smith, Executive Director of NEADS, has informed CCD that the Council of Ontario Universities has just launched a new website called Accessible Campus:

CCD Has a New Home! - On 16 October 2013, CCD began taking calls from its new office at 909-294 Portage Ave., Winnipeg Manitoba.  After more than 30 years, at the 926-294 Portage Ave. location, CCD moved to smaller quarters.  CCD’s telephone number remains 204-947-0303.