CCD Chairperson's Update - June 2015 - AGM Edition

After some difficult years of funding cutbacks which necessitated downsizing, CCD has overcome some significant obstacles and is now forging a more stable future.  Finally, CCD has good news to report: our organizational capacity is increasing.  As a result, the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which occurred on 5-6 June 2015 in Winnipeg, focused on how to build on some key short- and long-term opportunities: capacity building, collaborating with Independent Living Canada (ILC), the electoral process and voter education, and law reform on assisted suicide.   

Capacity Building

The Hon. Candice Bergen has agreed to support CCD's work promoting access and inclusion in Canada.  With stable multi-year funding in place, CCD's Executive and Council will be looking at how to translate this into new opportunities.  CCD's new National Coordinator James Hicks, who was introduced to the Council on 5 June 2015, will be playing a key role in this work.  James has established an office in Ottawa.  (1118-343 Preston Street, Floor, Ottawa, ON, K1S 1N4. Tel: 343-291-1118.)

In May, CCD hired a new Office Manager/Bookkeeper, Lucie Dupont, who was also introduced to the Council during the AGM.  Lucie will work in CCD's Winnipeg office.

Collaborating with ILC

At the AGM, CCD welcomed Vince Miele and Mark Green, representatives from Independent Living Canada (ILC).  Through the CCD-ILC transition project, funded by Employment and Skills Development Canada, CCD and ILC have been developing new ways to collaborate. 

CCD and ILC have jointly hired Marg Buchanan as the E-Information Officer for the two organizations.  Marg, who is based in Montreal, will disseminate information about issues important to CCD and ILC, such as a refundable Disability Tax Credit.  Refundability would put money in the pockets of people who qualify for the DTC but have no taxable income.  Marg attended the AGM to network with CCD and ILC representatives.

Educating Canadians to Participate in the Electoral Process

CCD has a contract with Elections Canada to conduct voter education. AGM participants reviewed Election Canada's Ready-to-Vote information. Materials were distributed to all attendees to share with their organizations. This material includes information about how people with disabilities can register to vote and find accessible polling stations. There are some new procedures for those people who do not have proper identification that you will need to understand. We need to make sure that people with disabilities have all the information they need to participate in the upcoming election. In the coming months, voter education will be one of CCD's priorities. So be sure to look for our regular Election Bulletins coming your way soon.

CRPD Awareness Project Extended

The Federal Government's Interchange Program has generously agreed to the continuation of Vangelis Nikias's position with CCD as CRPD Project Manager until the end of December.  Vangelis's work with CCD had been scheduled to conclude at the end of May. Due to the extension, Vangelis was able to participate in the CCD AGM, an event sponsored by the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) and a meeting organized by the Together with Technology Group. 

During the AGM, Council members discussed the format of a CCD report to the UN CRPD Committee on Canada's First Report.  Such a report is typically referred to as a "shadow report".  Shadow reports provide civil society groups', such as CCD, views on the official reports submitted by States Parties, in this case a report submitted reflecting the views of federal and provincial/territorial governments of Canada concerning compliance and implementation of the CRPD.  Vangelis explained that the CRPD Committee will review Canada's First Report in 2017.  Thus CCD's goal is to complete its shadow report by March 2016.

On 20 June 2015, Vangelis raised awareness about participation in public and political life, which is addressed in Article 29 of the CRPD.  He delivered a presentation titled "Advocate for Change: Disability/Deaf Issues and the Federal Election". Information was shared about the Convention, Canadian laws, such as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the electoral process and the role of Elections Canada. 

On 15 June 2015, Vangelis presented an overview of the CRPD and spoke about related advocacy issues to a group of blind Canadians in the TTG (Together with Technology Group) in a meeting in Ottawa and communicated across Canada.  TTG is sponsored by the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).

A few days ago, Saskatchewan released its disability strategy.  The strategy notes that it will help Saskatchewan address the obligations contained in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  It also indicates that Saskatchewan is committed to CRPD’s progressive realization.

The release of the strategy is a hopeful development and shows that CCD’s effort to raise awareness regarding CRPD is bearing fruits.

CCD congratulates Saskatchewan's people with disabilities on their effective efforts and looks forward to working with all concerned on making the strategy a reality.

Please email Vangelis at, to learn more about his work on the CRPD Awareness Project.

Law Reform on Assisted Suicide

On 5 June 2015, the National Council of Representatives discussed how to respond to the legislative vacuum that has been created by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decision in the Carter case (assisted suicide).  The SCC found the Criminal Code's total prohibition of assisted suicide overly broad and ordered that Canadians, who are at end-of-life, should have access to assisted suicide.  The SCC gave the Federal Government one year to create new legislation. 

CCD and the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) were co-intervenors in the Carter case, arguing that legalized assisted suicide would have an adverse impact on persons with disabilities because it would jeopardize our human rights.

Following the SCC decision in the Carter case, CCD is seeking to avoid a period of lawlessness in Canada, where assisted suicide would be unregulated; because people experiencing socially created vulnerability could be induced to submit to an assisted suicide.

CCD's Ending of Life Ethics Committee (EOLEC) helped frame the conversation at the Council meeting about assisted suicide.  Presentations were made by Dean Richert and Rhonda Wiebe (Co-chairs of the EOLEC), Jim Derksen (EOLEC member), Amy Hasbrouck (Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet), Catherine Frazee (Canadian Association for Community Living), and David Baker, legal counsel for CCD and CACL in the Carter Case.  Catherine Frazee presented her paper "Physician-Assisted Death in Canada: Fundamental Principles", which provides guidance on how CCD and CACL should respond to forthcoming Government of Canada legislation on assisted suicide.

The National Council is in the process of finalizing the principles that will guide the next phase of its work on assisted suicide.

Changes on CCD Committees

CCD accepted with regret the resignation of Anne McPhee, who had been re-elected as Secretary/Treasurer in 2014.  Thanks go out to Anne for her dedication to CCD over the years. 

Congratulations to Carlos Sosa, the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities' appointee to the CCD National Council of Representatives who was elected as Secretary/Treasurer at the AGM.  Carlos has an extensive network in Canada's social justice communities, so he brings important knowledge to the table. 

Long-time Chairperson of the Social Policy Committee Marie Ryan did not seek reappointment for another year.  Thanks to Marie for her many years of service to CCD.  John Rae, CCD's Second Vice Chairperson, is now the Chairperson of the Social Policy Committee. 

Fête for Retiring Staff

CCD held a reception on the evening of 5 June 2015 to honour the contributions to CCD made by Laurie Beachell, National Coordinator, and Clare Simpson, Comptroller.  Stephen Fletcher MP; Judy Wasylycia-Leis, a former NDP critic on disability issues; Shelley Fletcher, People First Executive Director; Kory Earle, People First President; Michael Bach, CACL Executive Vice-President; David Baker, bakerlaw; Jim Derksen, a former Chairperson of CCD and Paula Keirstead, a former Chairperson of the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities, were among the speakers, who shared highlights from the careers of Laurie and Clare.  I also read messages sent from friends and colleagues unable to attend.

In recognition of his commitment to inclusion, Kory Earle and Shelley Fletcher presented Laurie with People First's Patrick Worth Award.  Patrick Worth was an early People First leader who worked with great passion to bring about an end to institutions that warehouse people with intellectual disabilities.

CCD wishes both Laurie and Clare all the best in the future.