CCD Chairperson's Update - February 2015

Carter v. Canada (Assisted Suicide)

On Friday, 6 February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) released its decision in Carter v Canada (assisted suicide), striking down the Criminal Code's prohibitions against assisting someone to commit suicide.  The Court gave the Government of Canada a year to introduce legislation to regulate assisted death.

CCD and the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) co-intervened in the Carter case at the SCC, because both organizations opposed the effort to strike down statutory provisions designed to prevent assisting anyone, disabled or not, to die.

Since the SCC's decision, CCD and CACL have been putting before the Canadian public questions that need to be considered now that the SCC has spoken on this issue.  The members of CCD's Ending of Life Ethics Committee and Toujours Vivant – Not Dead Yet did an excellent work communicating the disability rights perspective to the Canadian media.

In the current environment, one of CCD's main objectives is to ensure that the voice of people with disabilities is heard by those engaged in crafting any new legislation and regulations on assisted suicide.

CRPD and More

As a human rights organization, CCD is concerned about human rights for everyone, not just people with disabilities.  To this end, Vangelis Nikias, CCD CRPD Project Manager, has been attending meetings organized by Foreign Affairs, Amnesty International and others that share information that will advance human rights implementation in Canada. 

On the morning of 5 February 2015, human rights organizations and Foreign Affairs officials met in Ottawa to discuss issues arising from the 3rd Committee at the 2014 GA to provide input into the development of official Canadian priorities and positions at the upcoming 28th session of the Council, taking place in Geneva in March 2015. Vangelis attended on behalf of CCD.

At this recent meeting, CCD was pleased to learn that the Assembly of First Nations has passed a resolution supporting Canadians with disabilities, monitoring of the CRPD and Canadian ratification of the Optional Protocol of the CRPD. (Please consult the appendix for the complete AFN resolution.)

Vangelis Nikias participated in the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences' and Amnesty International's roundtable discussion with Kent Roach, Prichard-Wilson Chair of Law and Public Policy at the University of Toronto and Trudeau Fellow. Kent was in Ottawa for a public Big Thinking lecture on Parliament Hill on judicial activism and human rights in Canada.

Vangelis continues to conduct public education sessions with Canadians interested in learning more about the CRPD.  Vangelis, who was a member of the Canadian delegation that assisted in drafting the CRPD, has a unique perspective on the Convention to share with audiences.  A recent participant in one of Vangelis' seminars commented, "The material that you covered was most interesting and I find myself wishing to pursue more of the UN’s historical influence on disability rights."  CCD appreciates the speaking opportunities at Carlton University that Prof. Roy Hanes has organized for students to hear from Vangelis.

Election 2015

Canadian voters will be going to the polls in 2015;  people with disabilities are voters.  To be informed voters, Canadians need information from all Federal parties about their plans to remove barriers that keep Canada from being accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities.

Michael Prince, co-principal investigator of the Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship research project, met with members of the NDP caucus to educate them about the project's research finding.  The project is seeking to share its findings with all Members of Parliament.

Dignity for All

On 3 February 2015 in the House of Commons at a breakfast for MPs, Canada Without Poverty launched its National Anti-Poverty Plan for Canada.  As a panelist at this event, Vangelis shared the CRPD's guidance on addressing the poverty experienced by people with disabilities.

A New Phase for ILC – CCD Transition Project

Work continues on the joint Transition Project, developed by Independent Living Canada (ILC) and CCD, which is looking at new collaborative ventures for joint activity by the two organizations.  The first stage of this project involved a research phase, where Goss Gilroy heard from member groups of both organizations and community leaders about the opportunities and challenges in the current environment. 

The Project is directed by a Steering Committee consisting of representatives from CCD and ILC.  Steve Estey, Pat Danforth and Tony Dolan serve on the Committee for CCD and Katie Paialunga, Wayne Penney and Sandra Carpenter represent ILC.  Steve Estey chairs the Steering Committee.

On 10 February 2015, the Steering Committee had a teleconference to plan the Committee's face-to-face meeting in Toronto, which was held on 18-19 February 2015.  The Committee engaged Marion Langford to facilitate the meetings. 

In the coming months the Steering Committee will be developing an information sharing hub.  This work is being undertaken to "enable both organizations to continue to support their members".


December 9, 10 & 11, 2014, WINNIPEG, MB Resolution no. 48/2014

TITLE: Support for Persons with Disabilities
SUBJECT: Social Development
MOVED BY: Bernd Christmas, Proxy, Indian Island First Nation, NB
SECONDED BY: Chief Gilbert Whiteduck, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, QC
DECISION Carried by Consensus

A. The preamble of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities notes that States are “concerned about the difficult conditions faced by persons with disabilities who are subject to multiple or aggravated forms of discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic, indigenous or social origin, property, birth, age or other status”.
B. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:
i. Article 21 (1): Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security.
ii. Article 21 (2): States shall take effective measures and, where appropriate, special measures to ensure continuing improvement of their economic and social conditions. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities.
iii. Article 22 (1): Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders women, youth, children and persons with disabilities in the implementation of this Declaration.
iv. Article 22 (2): States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.
C. Indigenous persons with disabilities continue to encounter structural and attitudinal barriers with respect to opportunities to improve their economic and social wellbeing.
D. Indigenous persons disproportionately encounter a higher prevalence of all forms of disability.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Chiefs-in-Assembly:
1. Direct the National Chief and Executive to establish a process to raise awareness and create opportunities for Indigenous persons with disabilities to fully contribute to their own economic, social and human rights.
2. Direct the National Chief and Executive to advocate Canada to ratify the First Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and monitor Canada’s first review under the Protocol.
3. Advocate for greater First Nations participation in the review process articulated in Article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
4. Direct the National Chief to report back to the Chiefs-in-Assembly on this matter.