CCD Chairperson's Update - January 2014

Our goal: an accessible and inclusive Canada

CCD's motto is a voice of own and CCD's volunteers exercise that voice in support of an accessible and inclusive Canada.  This month, our voice was heard by the Supreme Court, was sought out by the media and was active in the community identifying barriers to the participation of people with disabilities and explaining how to remove them.  In this Update, I present the highlights of the work undertaken by CCD in January.

Access to Postal Service

CCD's volunteers continue to promote the continuation of door-to-door postal service. 

On 15 January 2014, CCD Chairperson Tony Dolan was interviewed by Global TV about Canada Post's decision to end door-to-door delivery and move to community mailboxes and how the corporation tries to accommodate people with disabilities.  For example, Canada Post will give Canadians with disabilities an extra key so someone else can get their mail for them.  "We want to be as independent as possible.  This lowers our level of independence," commented Tony Dolan during the Global segment on Canada Post.  Tony also did a radio interview with CKU Radio Montreal on the Canada Post issue and Bonnie Brayton, Executive Director of DAWN RAFH, was also part of  the CKU program .

On 24 January 2014, CCD Council Member Carlos Sosa met with his MP Lawrence Toet (Elmwood – Transcona (Manitoba)) about the proposed changes to Canada Post Service.  CCD encourages other people with disabilities to meet with their MPs to explain the effects of community mailboxes.

On Thursday, 30 January 2014, CCD representatives met with Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra as part of CCD's ongoing work to maintain an accessible and inclusive postal service.  Mr. Chopra heard from Carlos Sosa, CCD Council Representative and Co-chair of the MLPD, Jess Turner, MLPD Co-chair, Allen Mankewich, MLPD Vice Chair, Jim Derksen, CCD Human Rights Committee member, Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator and Clare Simpson, CCD Comptroller.  Mr. Chopra expressed a desire to "find solutions together".

Access to Transportation Services

Pat Danforth, Chairperson of the CCD Transportation Committee, spoke out in the media when a PEI woman with a mobility disability was left stranded by Air Canada (AC) at the Montreal airport because AC's Washington chair, which is used to assist passengers with mobility impairments access an airplane, was not working.  Pat commented,

"There were lots of alternatives out there.  The alternative that this airline chose, which was not to let this woman go home, is sad and as far as I can tell it's a violation of the Canadian Transportation Act.  The Charlottetown airport is a small airport. If one airline doesn’t have a piece of equipment, often it can borrow a piece, instead a woman was inconvenienced, she was humiliated and she was left in a very vulnerable position not being able to go home."

Pat also educated Canadians about provisions in the Canadian Transportation Act which provide a complaint mechanism that people with disabilities can turn to when they have encountered an undue obstacle to mobility in the federally regulated transportation system. 

CCD encourages anyone with a disability who has experienced an undue obstacle to their mobility in the federally regulated transportation system to file a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency.

Assisted Suicide

On 16 January 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) allowed an appeal of the British Columbia Court of Appeal (BCCA) ruling in Carter v. Canada (assisted suicide).  CCD had hoped the appeal would be denied and in collaboration with the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), intervened in the leave to appeal application to explain why the appeal should not be granted.  CCD and CACL believe the SCC made the correct decision in the Rodriguez case, where Criminal Code prohibitions against assisted suicide were upheld.  Along with CACL, CCD will be seeking to intervene in the SCC appeal of the Carter case. 

Equality and Discrimination

Although Canada's human rights commissions have not been named as the official Canadian monitors of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), they nevertheless have a strong commitment to the goals of the CRPD.  Consequently, the CASHRA CRPD Working Group will be developing a report that shares knowledge regarding Canada's implementation of the UN CRPD Article 5 Equality and Discrimination.   On 14 January 2014, Steve Estey, Chairperson of the CCD International Committee, Anne Levesque, Chairperson of the CCD Human Rights Committee, and Vangelis Nikias, CRPD Project Manager, met with representatives from the Working Group to exchange viewpoints on the scope of such a report.  This conversation will continue in the upcoming months.  (See the appendix for Article 5)

Poverty and Health

On 22 - 23 January 2014, CCD CRPD Project Manager, Vangelis Nikias participated in a Dignity for All campaign summit, which focused on health as a right and as a public good.  In preparation for the meeting, Dignity for All prepared a document titled "Backgrounder: Poverty and Health."  Vangelis was in attendance to share information about the standards on health set by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Article 25 of the CRPD addresses health and Article 26 addresses rehabilitation and habilitation.  (See the appendix to read article 25 and 26.)

Human Rights Council Consultation

On 27 January 2014, Vangelis Nikias participated in a Human Rights Council Consultation, which was held at the offices of Amnesty International.  The meeting focused on Highlights from UNGA – Third Committee, 18th Session - Universal Periodic Review, and Child, Early and Forced Marriage. 

Three disability-specific issues were addressed during the consultation:


  1. On March 19, in the context of the 25th Human Rights Council in Geneva, there will be a panel discussion on disability.
  2. The National Human Rights Institutions are seeking consultative status with ECOSOC.  That has, if achieved, positive implications as it will be recognized by theUN that social and economic matters are linked to human rights.
  3. Some states, apparently, are seeking to constrain NGO-engagement procedures.  This should be resisted.

Vangelis attended to ensure that participants were aware of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Educating Students about the CRPD

On 28 January 2014, CCD's Vangelis Nikias presented a CRPD overview to a social work class at Carleton university, continuing CCD's public education effort toward achieving an inclusive and accessible Canada.

Promoting the RDSP

CCD has been working with HRSDC to deliver public education about the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

Donate to CCD

To help keep CCD working on these and other issues, you can make a donation to CCD at CanadaHelps.


Article 5 - Equality and non-discrimination

1. States Parties recognize that all persons are equal before and under the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law.

2. States Parties shall prohibit all discrimination on the basis of disability and guarantee to persons with disabilities equal and effective legal protection against discrimination on all grounds.

3. In order to promote equality and eliminate discrimination, States Parties shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided.

4. Specific measures which are necessary to accelerate or achieve de facto equality of persons with disabilities shall not be considered discrimination under the terms of the present Convention.

Article 25 - Health

States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall:
a. Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes;
b. Provide those health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities, including among children and older persons;
c. Provide these health services as close as possible to people’s own communities, including in rural areas;
d. Require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, including on the basis of free and informed consent by, inter alia, raising awareness of the human rights, dignity, autonomy and needs of persons with disabilities through training and the promulgation of ethical standards for public and private health care;
e. Prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance, and life insurance where such insurance is permitted by national law, which shall be provided in a fair and reasonable manner;
f. Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.


Article 26 - Habilitation and rehabilitation

1. States Parties shall take effective and appropriate measures, including through peer support, to enable persons with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence, full physical, mental, social and vocational ability, and full inclusion and participation in all aspects of life. To that end, States Parties shall organize, strengthen and extend comprehensive habilitation and rehabilitation services and programmes, particularly in the areas of health, employment, education and social services, in such a way that these services and programmes:
a. Begin at the earliest possible stage, and are based on the multidisciplinary assessment of individual needs and strengths;
b. Support participation and inclusion in the community and all aspects of society, are voluntary, and are available to persons with disabilities as close as possible to their own communities, including in rural areas.

2. States Parties shall promote the development of initial and continuing training for professionals and staff working in habilitation and rehabilitation services.

3. States Parties shall promote the availability, knowledge and use of assistive devices and technologies, designed for persons with disabilities, as they relate to habilitation and rehabilitation.