Chairperson's Update - September 2013

Meetings with Officials at the Department of Finance and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)

Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator, and Michael Bach of the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) met with officials at Finance and ESDC to seek inclusion of disability issues in the Throne Speech.

CCD Executive Committee

The CCD Executive Committee met by conference call on 12 September 2013 to discuss Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) focus on employment and people with disabilities and a meeting of F/P/T ministers responsible for employment on 8 November 2013; the Department of Finance’s work on the Registered Disability Savings Plan and the Disability Tax Credit; fundraising and transition funding from ESDC; plans for CCD’s move from 926-294 Portage Ave to smaller quarters at 909-294 Portage Ave; Steve Estey’s leave of absence from the CCD Council and Executive Committee due to his running in the Nova Scotia provincial election.

CCD Participated in UN High Level Meeting

Yutta Fricke, a member of the CCD International Development Committee, participated in the UN General Assembly’s High-level meeting on disability and development (HLMDD) that was held in New York on 23 September 2013 , the day prior to the commencement of the General Debate of the 68th session of the General Assembly. The theme of the HLMDD was: “The way forward: A disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond.” At the Meeting, Governments adopted an Outcome Document created to support the aims of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities.

The outcome document (Resolution A/68/L.1 of the HLMDD) from the HLMDD was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September 2013.  The resolution was adopted by consensus. 

Disabled Peoples’ International held a side event, titled “Eradicating Extreme Poverty: Addressing the Disability Disconnect, on the day of the HLMDD.  The co-sponsors for the event were: UNDESA, The Hans Foundation, Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and the Permanent Mission of India.

The post-2015 development agenda is focused on eradicating extreme poverty.  The High Level Panel on Post-2015 in its report has underlined the universality of development as a human right and the importance of 'leaving no one behind'.  This can only be achieved if we focus our attention on marginalized sectors such as people with disabilities.

800 million of the world's 1 billion people with disabilities live in the countries of the global South.  People with disabilities also comprise 20 percent of the world's poorest.  People with disabilities are not only more vulnerable to poverty but their poverty is further compounded by other inequalities.

The side-event underscored how development is closely linked with social justice and how without addressing disability induced inequalities, it will be difficult to “leave no one behind”.

The panel discussion focused on the importance and ways of breaking down barriers and creating enabling conditions for the participation of people with disabilities in development, so as to address the roots of poverty and build a real sustainable equitable development for all in the next phase of international development agenda beyond 2015.

Continuing Our Work on Immigration

CCD National Coordinator Laurie Beachell reports, “As you know CCD has long been involved in issues related to immigration of persons with disabilities.  An HIV/AIDS group in Toronto over the summer has been talking to a number of individuals about launching a legal challenge to the “excessive demand” clause of the Immigration Act.  CCD has been invited to name someone to sit on their Working Group in regard to this challenge.”  Laurie Beachell has accepted the invitation. 

This proposed legal challenge will have to overcome a number of hurdles. “The Council of Churches case, if my memory is correct, determined that Charter protection cannot be extended to non-Canadians residing outside the country, cases that have got media profile have often resulted in granting of a Ministerial Permit and thus become moot, just to name a few challenges.  We have made a few minor gains, individual assessments are now required to determine if an excessive demand really exists, the law was changed in the early 90’s to remove specific reference to denial of immigration on basis of disability and the new language was the excessive demand clause,” states Beachell.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Town Hall Meeting to Discuss International Human Rights - On 3 September 2013, Vangelis Nikias participated in the DRC Town Hall Meeting in Toronto, which was attended by 78 people.  The highlight of the town hall meeting, was a panel presentation by Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission, Vangelis Nikias, Council for Canadians with Disabilities, Melanie Moore, Centre for Independent Living in Toronto.  Ed Montigny, ARCH Disability Law Centre, moderated the session. During the closing of the meeting John Mosa made the following comments:

Today we heard, it is our right to demand equality and non-discrimination.

Over the last 40 years, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) has worked in collaboration with various organizations to achieve an inclusive and accessible Canada.  A great example of CCD’s collaborative work is the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 15 - equality clause.

We heard today why the slogan "Nothing About Us, Without Us" is important.  It was the strong participation of people with disabilities and organizations like CCD that was the defining characteristic and success factor in the creation of a strong and comprehensive Convention protecting the human rights of persons with disabilities all over the world.

What this means is that while we continue to face barriers and discrimination, people with disabilities can fight for our rights and have our voices heard and we can make a difference.

The DRC project is a grassroots initiative that has presented disability and human rights workshops on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) across Toronto for the past year.  The DRC is a Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) project.  CILT’s partners for the project are ARCH Disability Law Centre and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD).  The DRC Project is funded by the City of Toronto’s Access Equity & Human Rights Fund.

CUPE Meeting - On 19 September 2013, Vangelis Nikias made a presentation to CUPE’s Persons with Disabilities Working Group.

Money Matters!

CCD and NEADS worked together to develop a project proposal for the TD Bank Financial Literacy Grant Fund.   The project, titled “Money Matters!”, will create a targeted set of financial literacy resources and guides to be used by students with disabilities in post secondary education and staff assisting them in financial aid matters. The TD Bank received the proposal on 19 September 2013. 

Quebec’s Bill 52

In August, the Quebec House of Assembly announced that it would be holding hearings on Bill 52, (An Act Respecting End of Life Care) from 17 September until 10 October 2013.  Amy Hasbrouck, with Toujours Vivant/Not Dead Yet, a project of CCD, monitored these hearings.  Check out the TV/NDY newsletter for more information.

CCD has asked the Attorney General of Canada, the Hon. Peter MacKay, to seek a judicial review and determine if the proposed Quebec euthanasia law (Bill 52) infringes on the constitutional authority of the Government of Canada in relation to the Criminal Code prohibition against assisted suicide. 

Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship (CURA Research Project) Update

The CURA Team held a conference call meeting on Thursday, 26 September 2013.  The team reviewed documents prepared by one of the research teams from Quebec (Francois Aubry and Yves Vaillancourt), Cam Crawford, CACL and Michael Prince and planned the project’s workplan for the remainder of 2013.

An Ally Retires: Harvey Goldberg

Long-time disability community ally Harvey Goldberg retired from the Canadian Human Rights Commission in September.  CCD is very appreciative of the work that Harvey has undertaken in support of access and inclusion.  Harvey demonstrated admirable leadership during the development of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The CCD team wishes Harvey all the best in his future endeavors. 

New Developments

Heidi Janz, a member of CCD’s Ending of Life Ethics Committee, has a new Blog called From Where I Sit, check it out at :

CCD Council Representative Dr. Gregor Wolbring has co-authored a new paper, “Disabled People and the Post-2015 Development Goal Agenda”, which has been published in Sustainability.  It is available at:

The Canadian Centre on Disability Studies (CCDS) has launched the Collaborative Knowledge Building and Action for Visitable Housing in Canadian Cities Project (the Visitability Project). The Visitability Project intends to promote visitable housing for all Canadians, including persons with disabilities and seniors.  Jim Derksen is participating in this project on behalf of CCD.

The late Nick Ternette’s autobiography, Rebel Without A Pause , has been published by Fernwood Press.  Nick was one of Winnipeg’s best-known and most persistent political activists. Rebel Without A Pause invites us into the personal life and political memories of a champion for social justice.  Nick was a member of the MLPD Provincial Council.

What CCD Volunteers Do Beyond Their CCD Work

When the CCD Executive Committee met by conference call early in September, Secretary/Treasurer Anne McPhee indicated that a tuna fish might pre-empt her participation on the call.  Like others on the CCD team, you may be wondering why Anne was at the “beck and call” of a tuna.  It was all for a good cause – charitable fundraising for Hospice PEI by the 2013 Canada International Tuna Cup Challenge.  As Anne, who is the Hospice and Bereavement Coordinator for her area, explains, “I got the call that the team had caught a tuna and I had to be at the wharf with my volunteers in an hours time - it's a half hour drive to get there and it was pouring rain. We made it and the tuna arrived shortly after. It weighed in at 790 pounds - probably 650 "dressed" (after the tail and head are removed). They expect to get at least $10 a pound. A nice windfall for our little chapter (we have about a $20,000 budget) and no effort on our part other than to show up for the photos. Fun times in PEI.”