A Voice of Our Own: January 2006

Vol. 24 Issue 1

People with disabilities participating in All Candidates Federal Election Forum in Winnipeg, 7 January 2006

Canada Has a New Government

On 23 January 2006, Canadians went to the polls and elected a minority Conservative Government. The following letter, dated 19 January 2006, describes the Conservative Party's intentions with regard to people with disabilities:

Re: Conservative response to election questionnaire

Thank you for your letter of December 7, 2005. The Conservative Party of Canada is committed to ensuring that Canadians living with disabilities are treated with respect and dignity and have the opportunity to participate fully in Canadian society. We believe that all Canadians should have the chance to contribute to Canada's growth and prosperity including Canadians with disabilities. Our Health Critic Stephen Fletcher is Canada's first quadriplegic Member of Parliament and has proven that there is no room for exclusion in any sector of Canadian society. In keeping with our commitment to inclusion, a Conservative government will introduce a National Disability Act to promote reasonable access to medical care, medical equipment, education, employment, transportation, and housing for Canadians with disabilities.

Kind regards and thank you for the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to this very important issue.

The Conservative Party of Canada

Following the election, CCD wrote to Canada's new Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, outlining CCD's priority issues: poverty, disability-related supports, and unemployment of persons with disabilities and clarification of what a federal act on disability could and could not accomplish. In its letters to the Prime Minister, CCD stated the issues as follows:

February 6, 2006

Rt. Hon Stephen Harper
Prime Minister
Member of Parliament
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Mr. Prime Minister:

Congratulations on your election and your Party's election as the Government of Canada. CCD is a national association of persons with disabilities that seeks to improve the status of Canadians with disabilities. CCD is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary and has been seen by the Government of Canada as the major cross disability representative voice of Canadians with disabilities.

CCD has a long history of working collaboratively with government and we offer to you and your government our collaboration to find new and innovative ways of creating a more inclusive and accessible Canada. Your Party's platform commitment to a National Disability Act is of particular interest to us. While not our first priority, we have begun to define from a community perspective what might be achieved through such a vehicle and what would be not be easily addressed. A new Act could have impact in key areas of federal jurisdiction such as transportation or access to new technologies. It may be able to strengthen federal enforcement mechanisms such as the Canadian Transportation Agency, the CRTC, or the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It could impose a "disability lens" on government policy to ensure the issues of persons with disabilities are addressed and it could possibly impose an access requirement on government purchase of goods and services.

For some years CCD has worked with all levels of government to seek ways of addressing the poverty, unemployment, lack of disability related supports faced by Canadians with disabilities. Disability issues have been identified by all F/P/T Ministers of Social Services as a priority and working groups have been set up to try and move forward a progressive agenda. This work must continue. A National Disability Act will not be able to address the poverty, lack of support or unemployment of Canadians with disabilities because these issues are within provincial/territorial jurisdiction. Thus the issue of "fiscal imbalance" and how it is addressed becomes critical to Canadians with disabilities from across the country.

CCD wishes to work with you and your government and we offer our constructive support to achieve a more inclusive and accessible Canada where all persons regardless of ability or disability are able to contribute to and participate as full and equal citizens.

A first step toward that goal would be the creation of Parliamentary Committee on Disability Issues. This mechanism has been very helpful to our community for over 25 years. We urge you to create such a Committee in the very near future.


Marie White
National Chairperson

Laurie Beachell
National Coordinator

In the coming months, CCD representatives will be working to increase the new Conservative Government's understanding of CCD's long-term priorities: investment in a national disability-related supports fund, ending poverty of people with disabilities and regulating the federal transportation system for access. People with disabilities are encouraged to visit their local MPs and make them aware of the issues that you are facing as a Canadian with disability.

Parliamentary Committee on Disability Issues

Ever since 1981, there has been a Parliamentary Committee addressing disability issues. The Parliamentary Committee has played an important role in keeping disability on the political agenda. Over the years, the Committee has released reports and recommendations on a wide variety of topics, such as media portrayal, transportation, CPP-D. There are many competing public policy issues seeking attention in Ottawa. The disability community needs some internal advocates in the House of Commons. In the past, the MPs who served on the House Committee on disability issues became important champions of full participation and equality for persons with disabilities.

CCD encourages everyone to write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and let him know that Canada needs a House of Commons' Committee on Disability Issues. The address is as follows:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Prime Minister
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

CCD Quarterly Committee Update

CCD Council and Executive Committee-CCD held its regular January meeting in Winnipeg. The Executive met on 13 January 2006 and the Council met 13-15 January 2006. The CCD Council elected John Rae (pictured on the left) as Treasurer. John will serve in this position until the June Annual General Meeting. An election was necessary because the MLPD appointed a new rep, Barbara Beauchamp, replacing Tim McIsaac, who was also the CCD Treasurer.

As Council had a number of new Representatives, a series of workshops brought Council up-to-date on current issues, including the Federal party platforms, the re-emergence of the concept of a national disability act, research projects in which CCD is involved and most recent activity in relation to the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Candidates' Forum

Picture of Steven Fletcher.CCD hosted an all-party candidates' forum during the Council meeting and about 100 local people joined the CCD Representatives to hearing the major parties' positions on disability issues. The three candidates who participated were Liberal candidate Reg Alcock, Conservative candidate Steven Fletcher (pictured at left), and NDP candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis. CCD invited them to address three key questions:

  • What is your Party's vision for the next decade for supporting persons living with disability?
  • Name two issues in the area of disability that your Party would prioritize for action in the next two years and what would you do?
  • How would you ensure that Canadians with disabilities have the supports needed to participate in community life, get an education and join the workforce?

A woman holding a microphone.Following the candidates' presentations, questions were posed from the floor. (Pictured at the left is Chloe Serradori, a CCD Council Member, posing a question during the Candidates' Forum.) CCD undertook this event with its Manitoba member the MLPD and ACL Manitoba. The support of these organizations is greatly appreciated.

Annual General Meeting

Picture of Marie White.The next Council meeting will be held 9, 10, 11 June 2006 in Winnipeg. At the AGM, there will be elections for all Executive positions. Marie White, (pictured on the left) is the current Chairperson of CCD. Margot Brunner Campbell and Mary Ennis are CCD's Vice Chairs. John Rae is CCD's Treasurer, Earl Flynn is Secretary and Chloé Serradori holds the position of Member-at-Large on the Executive Committee.

CCD Nominating Committee- Barbara Beauchamp and Margot Brunner-Campbell volunteered for the Nominating Committee.

Picture of Yvonne PetersCCD Human Rights Committee- CCD is seeking consumers who would be willing to be interviewed regarding complaints made within the last 3 years to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, because CCD's Human Rights Committee is conducting a research project that is examining the Canadian Human Rights Commission's practices. Yvonne Peters (pictured on the left) is the Chairperson of the CCD's Human Rights Committee and the principal researcher for the project.

CCD Transportation Committee- The CCD Transportation Committee is working on a number of legal cases, addressing barriers in transportation.

McKay-Panos Case-The McKay-Panos case, which addressed the right of obese persons to have sufficient seating, has a decision. The decision means that people who are obese should be accommodated when the fly. CCD intervened in this case at the Federal Court of Appeal in support of Ms. McKay-Panos's position.

One Person-One Fare Case-A hearing scheduled for the end of January was delayed. The respondents have not provided the required information to CTA.

VIA-The case is at the Supreme Court. A number of organizations are seeking to intervene in this case in support of CCD's position: CAILC, DAWN, AEBC, the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Picture of Mary Ennis.CCD International Development Committee-Steve Estey, Chairperson of CCD's International Development Committee, is a member of the Canadian delegation that is negotiating the proposed UN Convention to protect and promote the human rights of persons with disabilities. The Ad Hoc Committee met at the UN for three weeks in January. Mary Ennis (pictured on the left), a member of CCD International Committee, was also in attendance at the meetings which took place in New York.

For more information about CCD's activities go to:

CCD: 30 Years of Advocating for the Rights of Canadians with Disabilities

During the last 30 years, Canada has achieved many milestones on the path toward full citizenship for persons with disabilities. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) has been involved centrally in Canada's campaigns to advance disability rights. Without the disability rights movement, Canada would not be a world leader in the creation of active citizenship for persons with disabilities.

INNOVATING A NEW COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MODEL: CROSS DISABILITY - CCD's founders made cross disability a guiding principle. CCD welcomes volunteers with any disability to take part in its campaigns for equality, which focus on broad social policy affecting the disability community.

DIRECTING OUR OWN LIVES: SELF-DETERMINATION - Prior to the formation of community organizations, directed by persons with disabilities, Canadian policy makers viewed medical and rehabilitation professionals as spokespersons on disability issues. With CCD's emergence, volunteers with disabilities challenged the legitimacy of doctors and therapists to intervene with government on the citizenship issues of persons with disabilities. In 1980, with CCD volunteers leading the charge, disability activists hijacked the Rehabilitation International (RI) Conference, held in Winnipeg. The outspoken CCD volunteers, who critiqued the professional presentations in daily bulletins, captivated the media. CCD Chairperson Allan Simpson focused attention on removing barriers and challenged the medical model. An episode of CBC Summerscope profiled CCD's activities. Canadian politicians impressed by new disability models advanced by CCD began to realize that room at policy tables had to be made for the disability rights movement. Shortly thereafter, Canada appointed Henry Enns, a CCD volunteer, to the delegation drafting the UN World Program of Action Concerning Disabled Persons.

ADVOCATING FOR ACCESSIBLE TRANSPORTATION - CCD held policy conventions to develop plans for making Canada an inclusive society. The earliest forums addressed employment and transportation. CCD used these forums to lever the Canadian Transport Commission to hold a public hearing on transportation barriers. Consumers traveled to Ottawa, some under horrific conditions of inaccessibility, to explain to how transportation is the hub of independent living.

CCD's is a leader on transportation accessibility: Irene McGinn, a CCD Vice Chair, was on the Roadcruiser project team, which brought accessible intercity buses to Canada. The Federal Government consulted CCD during establishment of the first national accessible transportation policy. CCD has co-chaired the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Accessible Transportation. Currently, CCD is seeking a regulatory system for transportation access comparable to what Americans with disabilities enjoy.

RAISING DISABILITY AWARENESS - The UN declared 1981 International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP), a transformative event for Canada. CCD volunteers served on organizing committees, implementing projects for inclusive communities. Canada established the Special Parliamentary Committee on the Disabled and the Handicapped, which heard from Canadians with disabilities about discrimination. CCD seconded Jim Derksen, its National Coordinator, to the Committee's research staff. The involvement of a veteran CCD volunteer in writing the Obstacles Report, ensured its recommendations supported equality, full participation and citizenship.

FIGHTING FOR HUMAN AND EQUALITY RIGHTS - Canada's human rights laws and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protect people with disabilities, because CCD volunteers dedicated themselves to ensuring that these laws would include disability. CCD wrote briefs, telegrams, and letters to politicians demanding coverage. They monitored Constitutional Committee meetings, participated in demonstrations and followed politicians into washrooms to make the case for the inclusion of disability.
CCD has intervened in key equality rights cases heard by the Supreme Court to inform the Court about how their decisions will affect citizens with disabilities. CCD's interventions have improved how Canada does business. For example, the Eldridge case decision extends substantive accommodation in delivery of public services to people with disabilities, even when public services are downloaded to the private sector.

Internationally, CCD is contributing to the text of the emerging UN convention to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. CCD seeks a convention based on consumer principles and supporting Canadian values, such as the duty to accommodate. Steve Estey, CCD International Committee Chair, is on the Canadian delegation, negotiating the treaty at the UN.

DEVELOPING THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF CITIZENSHIP - Government officials consulted CCD in the development of In Unison, a pan-Canadian commitment to improve disability supports, employment opportunities and income support for persons with disabilities.

Disability-Related Supports—CCD leads the consumer call for a national investment in disability-related supports, which are any good or service used by a person with a disability for independent living. "Lack of disability-related supports means isolation and prohibits economic and social participation," states CCD Chair Marie White.
Income—The Federal Government appointed Laurie Beachell, CCD's National Coordinator, to the Technical Advisory Committee on Tax, which worked to improve tax fairness and access to income for persons with disabilities.
Employment—CCD has been calling for bold public policy addressing the employment issues of persons with disabilities. CCD has worked to improve Canada's Employment Equity legislation, seeking an Act that would do more than require companies to report on their employment practices.

WORKING FOR THE NEXT GENERATION - While milestones have been achieved, critical work remains because new issues emerge. Take, for example, information and communication technology (ICT). While ICT has levelled some barriers, it also creates new ones. For example, despite the fact that accessible technology exists, Canadian airports feature automated ticketing machines inaccessible to travellers with visual impairments. CCD is dedicated to removing barriers from the ICT area. To this end, CCD participates in the Dis-IT research alliance, which is bringing together members of academia, industry and the disability community to investigate how to eliminate barriers in ICT. CCD is also participating in other research alliances that will equip it to meet other continuing and emerging challenges, such as income support and palliative care.

What Others Have to Say About CCD

30th Anniversary
30ème Anniversaire

"Inclusion of disability under the Canadian Human Rights Act was no easy matter: and it was a pivotal moment in the history of our movement. The Charter is a significant and valuable tool in the struggle for equality rights.

We knew we had to get this one right. It was doubtful there would ever be a second chance because of the overwhelming hurdle created by the Canadian constitutional amending formula. We needed Charter protection at the get go. People with disabilities and their organizations initiated a tremendous Charter inclusion lobby.

I remember we were so close to getting the all-important approval and the bureaucrats came back to us and said... "We can sell inclusion of physical disability but there are questions about intellectual and mental disability." There was a lot of pressure on the movement to get what you can now and continue the fight another day. I'm proud to say we resisted that temptation."~ Michael Huck, a former CCD Chairperson.

"CCD has been a strong, clear and consistent voice for the dignity and equality of persons with disabilities over the past 30 years. It has played a key role by bringing disability issues before Parliament and the Supreme Court of Canada. I have been very proud to have been associated with CCD and to have played a small role in its work."~ Harry Beatty, lawyer.

"We are so fortunate to have a strong, vibrant National Assembly like CCD in Canada where our headquarters is located. CCD is a great supporter of DPI's work internationally and has taken a lead role in Canada as we move towards a U.N. Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. Congratulations on 30 good years, CCD, and our best wishes for 30 more." ~ Venus Ilagan, Chairperson Disabled Peoples' International.

"It is not very often that a woman from a log cabin in the woods of Ontario, who thought she had no more influence than her own family, could end up doing policy work at the UN. CCD gave us the confidence and skills to be able to do that." ~ Francine Arsenault, a former CCD Chairperson.

"Over the years it has been my honor to serve CCD as its legal counsel on several occasions. From that vantage point, I have been present when CCD's disability-friendly model of equality was first adopted by other equality seeking groups, and then adopted by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Andrews case. I have seen CCD challenged aggressively and not back down. I have seen CCD threatened and subjected to financial duress, but carry on regardless. Without the vision, courage and determination CCD has demonstrated over the last 30 years Canadians with disabilities would have few if any of the rights they currently enjoy." ~ David Baker, lawyer.

"CCD has been instrumental in convening meeting places where people with disabilities and other experts have been able to have important discussions, sharing insights, brainstorming and strategizing around how to secure the citizenship, human rights and well-being of people with disabilities. Throughout, CCD has ensured that the voices of people with disabilities have been heard and respected. Congratulations on your 30th anniversary, 30 years well spent indeed!" ~ Cam Crawford, Roeher Institute.

"On the international stage, one of the most significant contributions CCD has made is the ongoing support to Disabled Peoples' International (DPI). CCD has been a leader in the most important events shaping the evolution of disability rights both in Canada and abroad." ~ Steve Estey, Chairperson CCD International Committee.

CCD continues to be a crucial association of Canadians with disabilities. Through tough times and through better times, over the past 30 years, CCD has been a resolute voice in advancing a vision of equality, human rights, dignity and full citizenship. We are closer to that vision today, though with so much more to do of course, due to the efforts of CCD. ~ Michael J. Prince, University of Victoria.

"Through 3 decades of visionary leadership, solidarity building and human rights advocacy the Council of Canadians with Disabilities has been an inspiration to people with intellectual disabilities and their families; to all of us who advocate for a Canada of equality and inclusion. Thank you CCD." ~ Michael Bach, Canadian Association for Community Living.

A man sitting in front of a microphone."CCD's vision and tireless advocacy efforts, developed in consultation with Canadians with disabilities, enabled persons with disabilities to have a voice of their own, and to move the agenda forward from the Medical Model to the IL Model." ~ Paul Young, a former CCD Chairperson.


New York - At its seventh session, the General Assembly committee drafting the first-ever international convention on disability rights reached agreement on privacy rights and came close to an accord on issues ranging from equality and non-discrimination to the right to education, health and work.

"We had a very good session, with a rich debate," said the Chair of the Committee, Ambassador Don McKay (New Zealand), at the conclusion of the session of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.

Meeting from 16 January to 3 February, the Committee concluded a second full reading of the draft and reached an agreement on privacy rights (article 22). States that become parties to the convention will be obligated to protect the privacy of persons with disabilities, including personal, health and rehabilitation information, and prevent arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy, family, home, correspondence and communications.

Participants made progress on the contentious definition of persons with disabilities. To the delegate of Serbia and Montenegro, who said, "Defining persons with disabilities will be a mission impossible," Mr. McKay replied, "It will certainly be mission difficult, but not mission impossible."

Delegates expressed general support for the revised Chair's text (available at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7revtext.htm) on the convention' s purpose (article 1), principles (article 3), general obligations (article 4). equality and non-discrimination (article 5), right to life (article 10), liberty and security of the person (article 14), freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (article 15), freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse (article 16), liberty of movement (article 18) and personal mobility (article 20).

Delegates also generally supported the Chair's text on respect for the home and the family (article 23), education (article 24), habilitation and rehabilitation (article 26), adequate standards of living and social protection (article 28), and participation in political and public life (article 29), under which States would guarantee equal political rights to persons with disabilities, including the right to stand for elections, hold office and perform public functions at all levels of government.

There was also general support for article 27, under which States would recognize the equal right to work and gain a living. Several delegations proposed adding provisions on protection for persons unable to work in the open market, protection from harassment in the workplace and disabilities acquired in the workplace.

There was widespread support for article 30, which would require States to recognize the equal right to take part in cultural life and in recreational, leisure and sporting activities, and for article 31, which would require States parties to collect information, statistics and statistical data to enable them to enact policies giving effect to the Convention. Disability organizations asked to be consulted on information and data collecting.

Participants also reached a general agreement on shortening the Convention's title and came closer to an agreement on it. The European Union proposed "International Convention on the Human Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities", while the International Disability Caucus argued for "International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Committee also came closer to an agreement on awareness raising (article 8), accessibility (article 9) and freedom of expression and opinion and access to information (article 21).

But differences remained on equal recognition as a person before the law (article 12), access to justice (article 13), protecting the integrity of the person (article 17) and living independently and being included in the community (article 19).

Participants reached a general agreement on article 25, under which persons with disabilities would have the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination. But differences remained on the reference to sexual and reproductive health services.

There were also differences on international cooperation (article 32), with the facilitator's text calling for appropriate measures between and among States, including technical and economic assistance, in support of national efforts to realize the goals of the Convention.

There was still no draft on international monitoring (article 34), and Mr. MacKay asked participants to reflect on the membership and powers of the Committee that would monitor implementation of the treaty, as well as the possibility of establishing other bodies and processes.

Participants did not reach agreement as to whether there should be separate articles on women and children with disabilities, or whether provision on women and children should be included in relevant articles throughout the convention.

These and other contentious issues will have to be resolved at the next session, to be held from 14 to 25 August.

For the first time, six children and young people with disabilities addressed the Commission on 18 January, urging participants to address the exclusion and neglect of an estimated 150-200 million children with disabilities around the world. The six young representatives of the organization Save the Children, from Bangladesh, China and the United Kingdom, reminded delegates that living in a world which does not value everyone equally is to live in a world which dehumanizes everyone.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour addressed the Commission on 27 January, reminding delegates that attitudes, rather than resource constraints, often create the strongest barriers to the enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities.

"Rules that block persons with disabilities from obtaining personal documentation or from voting in elections can be modified, often at little expense," she said. "Access to education or employment can sometimes be improved also through simple and inexpensive regulatory changes."

More than 400 representatives from governments and leading disability organizations from around the world attended the session. The International Disability Caucus, the umbrella group for disability organizations, played a crucial role.

The Department of Social and Economic Affairs served as the substantive secretariat of the Committee, while the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provided its expertise.

Picture of Vangelis Nikias.More than 400 representatives from governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) attended the session. "We continue to work for this convention because I think we deserve to have one. It's not going to create miracles but definitely its going to create better lives for all of us," Venus Ilagan, Chairperson Disabled Peoples' International (DPI). CCD is the Canadian member of DPI.

Vangelis Nikias (pictured at the left), a former Chairperson of CCD's Human Rights Committee and now a staff person with Human Resources and Skills Development and Social Development Canada's Office for Disability Issues, is a member of the Canadian Delegation, working on the Convention.


British Columbia Coalition of People with Disabilities

Advocating for Accessible Transportation - For the past few years, BCCPD has been working closely with the Coalition of handyDART Users (CHU) on improving our door-to-door custom transit service in BC, particularly in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD). In November 2005, CHU prepared the report, Engaging the Future: Making handyDART a Translink subsidiary, to coincide with TransLink's (our GVRD transit authority) Accessible Transit Strategic Plan review. We see this review as an ideal opportunity to make tangible progress on the long-standing problems in the GVRD custom transit system.

CHU has taken a bold position: that the establishment of a single TransLink subsidiary to operate custom transit in the GVRD is the answer. A permanent subsidiary-instead of the several short-term contractors who try unsuccessfully to coordinate service in the GVRD-would consolidate what has been created to date and allow us to innovate and build for the future. The key improvements would include: a vastly improved, coordinated, quality service for riders; increased service capacity to meet growing demand; a single subsidiary to consolidate service throughout the current 8 zones; uniformity of policies and service; the ability for TransLink to long-term plan for all aspects of operations; and, a stable environment for employees.

CHU and BCCPD representatives attended two community workshops in 2005 sponsored by TransLink and outlined the problems with the current system. The CHU report has been widely circulated to groups in the GVRD. Sixty-two groups have endorsed the plan in less than a month. Initial signs from TransLink are that a new model is at least on the table. We will continue to monitor the issue and engage in the final workshop planned by TransLink in early 2006. Our hope is that our model would not only create a much-improved service in our region, but could act as a model for other jurisdictions.

Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities

ACCD Celebrates International Day of Disabled Persons - Once again this year, ACCD partnered with other organizations to plan the UN's International Day of Disabled Person's festivities in Edmonton. Celebrations took place at City Hall where motivational speakers, live music, and the presentation of the Premier's Council Awards of Excellence highlighted the event. "ACCD is proud each year to be a part of the International Day of Disabled Persons celebrations," commented ACCD President, Margot Brunner-Campbell.

Advocacy Training with ACCD - ACCD has developed a "Basics of Advocacy" presentation that defines advocacy and provides step-by-step guidelines that explain how people with disabilities can successfully advocate for themselves. Bev Matthiessen, ACCD's executive director, delivered the presentation at the Active Leisure for Citizens with Disabilities: 2005 National/International Symposium held in Edmonton in mid-October. Now, ACCD is making this presentation available to organizations across the province.

Task Force Recommends Changes to Long-term Care - In June 2005, Alberta Health and Wellness and Alberta Seniors and Community Supports struck an MLA task force to review proposed new continuing care standards in the province. As a part of this review process, the task force met with "stakeholders from across the province, including Albertans and their families currently receiving continuing care services, seniors groups, supportive living and long-term care operators, staff and health care providers, along with industry and professional associations."

On September 7, 2005, the task force, co-chaired by MLAs Ray Prins and Len Webber, submitted its findings in the Seniors Report: What we heard and draft recommendations. The recommendations in the report cover a broad range of concerns in health services, accommodation, and quality of life issues. They include:

  • Targeted funding to long-term care to ensure residents receive quality health and personal care services
  • Support for specialized geriatric training for health and housing staff
  • Development of specialized services and housing for special needs groups, such as young adults with disabilities
  • Minimum training standards for food preparation staff for continuing care facilities
  • Creating a concerns resolution process that provides residents, families and staff with clear directions on how to raise their concerns and have them addressed.

The Seniors Report is available at www.continuingcare.gov.ab.ca along with summaries of the stakeholder meetings and background documents, including the draft Continuing Care Health Service and Accommodation Standards.

ACCD Monitoring Health Care Initiatives - Early in 2005, Premier Ralph Klein made a commitment to focus on and rejuvenate Alberta's health care system. In the publication Getting On with Better Health Care, the Ministry of Health and Wellness outlined twelve "renewal initiatives" for 2005 and 2006. Alberta Health Minister Iris Evans described this package of initiatives as "one more step in the ongoing evolution of Alberta's health care system." She also encouraged Albertans to review the initiatives and provide the ministry with feedback.

Of course, new health care initiatives have the potential to dramatically affect the lives of all Albertans, especially people with disabilities and others with unique health care needs. Through ACCD's involvement with the Alberta Disabilities Forum's (ADF's) Health Working Group, we carefully reviewed and responded to the proposed initiatives.

ADF's Health Working Group drafted detailed feedback on each of the twelve initiatives outlined by the ministry. This feedback encourages the ministry to hold public consultations on the new health policy framework to ensure it reflects the perspectives of people with disabilities. If you would like to view the Health Working Group's response to the new initiatives, please contact Tracie at the ACCD office by calling 780-488-9088 or emailing Tracie@accd.net.

Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities

Bus Fare Increases - The MLPD has been very concerned about the City of Winnipeg's proposed bus fare increase for 2006. We have become accustomed to a yearly 5 cent increase over the past number of years. However, this year, the Transit Department has requested a 15 cent increase for riders (including Handi-Transit) who pay cash fares. The City has backed off somewhat on the fare increase by giving students and seniors a 10 cent increase instead of a 15 cent increase - but not people with disabilities!

The MLPD made presentations on this issue at the City of Winnipeg's Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works and the Executive Policy Committee. Unfortunately, cash Transit fares will rise to $2.00 per ride beginning January 1st.

Visitable/Universal Design Consultant Designated - The Province has designated a position for a visitable/universal design consultant. The individual who is hired will review access issues vis-à-vis visitable design, by working with the disability community and developers.

MLPD Makes Presentation At Third Round Table On Disability Issues - Recently, the MLPD attended the Third Round Table On Disability Issues which focused on Disability Supports. In our presentation, we suggested new strategies and policies that are needed for access to disability supports. They include:

Portability; Affordability; Consumer control; Increased supports for independent and supported living; and More non-traditional forms of disability supports than contained in the Province's 2001 "Full Citizenship" White Paper.

Provincial Branch Work - MLPD's Brandon Branch has been busy in meetings regarding future Handi-Transit fares. As of January 1st, 2006, Brandon's City Council has determined that Handi-Transit riders will continue to pay $3.50 for a one-way fare. Riders can take up to 60 rides per month at this price (as opposed to the previously proposed 40 rides), after which the cost will increase to $7.00 per ride. This is nearly half the amount that was approved by Council earlier this year.

Allan Simpson Memorial Fund - On December 9th, the MLPD co-hosted the Allan Simpson Memorial Fund public forum called "Access The World". The theme of the event was access in a very general sense and included speakers talking on various aspects of access - physical, technological, etc. The keynote speaker was David Northcott who currently works with the Institute of Urban Studies and Hospice and Palliative Care. David gave an impassioned speech which connected poverty, people with disabilities, and access, and the responsibility of the various levels of government to provide equal access to people with disabilities.

Women With Disabilities Talk About The Upcoming Provincial Budget - On Wednesday, November 30th, a number of women with disabilities gathered at the MLPD to discuss their thoughts and concerns about the upcoming provincial budget. The event was hosted by Coordinator, Jennifer deGroot from the UN Platform For Action Committee (UNPAC). Some of the issues that were discussed included housing, disability supports, employment, taxes, and safety.

Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities

Government Relations - All our contacts predicted Nova Scotians would be headed to the polls by mid-November. With an election at the end of January they weren't far off - except that they were anticipating a provincial election, not a federal one.

Relations with government seemed to dominate the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities calendar this fall. Hopefully, persons with disabilities in the province will benefit from it.

Position Papers - In November, NSLEO presented three position papers on three priority issues to each of the province's three parties. Though the province increased funding last year, with rural affordable, accessible transportation only available in half the province and with those existing providers strapped for both operating dollars and capital costs, the issues of accessible transportation was again on our radar.

LEO called its second paper "Daily Living Supports" and addressed both home support and technical aids. It was an attempt to educate government that persons with disabilities are falling through the gaps in government programs and that some policy, such as the removal of emergency toileting, is undignified.

The final paper addressed the shortage of affordable, accessible housing in Nova Scotia. Rather than recommending the government merely build more affordable, accessible units, NSLEO made a series of no-to-low cost action items to government. These points included approaching the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes to develop suitable barrier-free standards for housing to be incorporated into the model National Building Code. NSLEO also asked that the provincial government pressure the Nova Scotia Association of Architects to uphold its professional responsibility to ensure construction of architecture is in the public interest. The papers were well received, but NSLEO is still waiting for a commitment on these recommendations.

Our full Board meeting followed on the heels of the presentations to caucus. In an effort to encourage delegates to present the papers to their municipalities and MLAs, a mock presentation and question-and-answer session was held.

Report Cards - NSLEO released report cards rating the actions of the provincial parties on disability issues to coincide with recognition of International Day of the Disabled Person, on December 3rd. This was the second year running we have attempted this. As expected, the reaction from the parties is mixed depending on the grade received, but the report cards have sent a clear message that policy is not enough. Unless a party takes action, persons with disabilities do not benefit. With the feedback from party researchers, NSLEO continues to refine the grading process. This year, in addition to the position papers, we will issue an outline of expectations for each of the six categories a party is evaluated on.

Inclusive Communities Challenge - After tweaking the CCD Challenge Ballot to include issues of particular relevance to persons with disabilities in Nova Scotia, NSLEO circulated the survey to candidates in each of the province's eleven ridings. The response was dismal. We only received four responses from 40 contacts. A letter from NDP headquarters explained that it in order to maintain consistent messaging it is party policy that individual candidates not respond to surveys. Instead, they pointed us to the party platform. Following this experience, NSLEO will re-evaluate its strategy for the anticipated provincial election.

Informing - Community groups felt they were shut out of the federal/provincial/territorial meetings focusing on housing held in September. In October, to make amends, Department of Community Services Minister David Morse met with local organizations looking to address the housing crisis in the province. Don Mullins, chair of NSLEO's Halifax affiliate Disabled Individuals Alliance (DIAL) and himself a delegate, was on the panel of presenters. When asked about the current deficit in affordable, accessible housing Morse pointed only to the fact that over 60 per cent of the units have been completed under the Canada - Nova Scotia agreement.

With the province's Department of Health Continuing Care division about to roll out a direct funding program, the Kendrick Report Coalition released the findings of an investigation of the best practices for self-managed and supported decision-making. NSLEO was a member of the research advisory committee. Time and time again, the need for adequate training and ongoing support for self-managers was stressed. In the department's own information session, the program as presented was lacking this key component. NSLEO wanted the public to know about this lack, and ask why the province has chosen to proceed without this crucial element.

NSLEO On January 12th, NSLEO led a presentation by Accessible Nova Scotia (ANS) to Service Nova Scotia Minister Barry Barnet. Accessible Nova Scotia asked Barnet to expand the ACCESS-ability Program by $250,000 to provide funds to small-to-medium sized enterprises in Nova Scotia to help with the cost of accessibility retrofit work. When speaking with business owners, it was clear that it was a lack of resources rather than a lack of desire that was the biggest barrier to becoming accessible. Minister Barnet committed to discussing the issue with the Minister of the Department of Economic Development.

The next day NSLEO presented information about persons with disabilities living in poverty in Nova Scotia. The information was a mix of statistics gained through the province's Disabled Persons Commission and solutions discussed at the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities table. The presentation was part of a two-day "Forum on Poverty" sponsored by the Standing Committee on Community Services. With Nova Scotia's minority government situation, the three parties are equally represented - that is when all members are present. Members of the governing party were notably absent that day.

The public awareness committee attached to NSLEO has been successful in its bid to coordinate two youth-focused initiatives. Partnership for Access Awareness Nova Scotia (PAANS) is in the process of hiring a youth program coordinator to lay the foundation for both a speakers' bureau and a mentoring program. The position will focus on developing relationships with schools, and persons with disabilities who can act as role models for both youth with disabilities and their peers.

PEI Council of the Disabled

Fall Policy Conference - Our annual policy conference was held in the east end of the province this year and focussed on "Healthy Living for a Healthy Life". People with disabilities from across the province attended and discussed topics such as the Provincial government's "Health Strategy" and health promotion efforts as well as the availability and focus of nutrition and other wellness programs in the province.

Three Publications - December saw the release of our latest general public oriented "Disabilities Forum" publication. Unlike previous years, where the Forum was published as a 4 page newspaper insert in both provincial daily newspapers, it was produced as an 8 page tabloid which was distributed to dozens of high traffic areas across the province. The Forum was focussed on volunteering and people with disabilities and featured articles by people with disabilities about volunteer experiences, articles about barriers to volunteering and other related stories. The Forum's articles are also on our web site.

Our monthly newsletter has undergone a format change and will now be refocussed as a publication that is more lively, more attractive to read and more meaningful to readers.

The Council's resource manual entitled "Simple Solutions" is available in print now. It is written for non-profit organizations and concerns how to remove barriers to volunteering for people with disabilities. It is published in both English and French and is available in electronic format from the Canada Volunteer Initiative's Knowledge Development Centre web site at
It had been available online only until mid-December, when the print versions were released.

Around the Block - The Council's second "Around the Block" project started in November and will run until late May 2006. "Around the Block" uses a live theatre show to sensitize Intermediate and High School students to disabilities and disability issues. We have had four previous theatre projects over the last four years [three "Kids on the Block" projects aimed at elementary school and one "Around the Block"]. The script for the show has been developed using the experiences of the project participants this year and last year, most of whom are young people with disabilities. All five of our five theatre projects have been funded by HRSDC. Last year's show covered Charlottetown area schools and was a winner for Best Director at Charlottetown's theatre festival. This year the show will tour across the Island and reach most Island Intermediate and High Schools.

Pre-Employment Program - The Council's new permanent program focussed on the pre-employment needs of people with disabilities is holding it's second session this Winter. The Pre-Employment Program is aimed at those who have no labour force attachment or have been removed from the workforce for the past three or more years as a result of their disability. The first session was held in Charlottetown and the January to April session will be held in Summerside. The Pre-Employment Program provides structured life skills and employment readiness skills enhancement, which will prepare participants for entry or re-entry into the workforce and offers twelve week sessions for small groups of people and holds the sessions in major centres in the province.

Coalition of Persons with Disabilities - Newfoundland & Labrador (COD)

Changes at Coalition of Persons with Disabilities - Newfoundland & Labrador (COD) - It's been a busy time COD. Mary Ennis, COD's former Executive Director, is the new Executive Director of Disabled Peoples' International. She is living in Winnipeg and working with people around the world. We miss you Mary!

COD's new Executive Director is Susan Ralph. Susan is the former Individual Advocate at the Independent Living Resource Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. We wish Susan lots of success.

COD has moved house! Please see below for our new contact information:

Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (COD)
Newfoundland and Labrador
TD Place, 140 Water Street
Suite 202
St. John's, NL A1C 6H6

TEL: (709)722-7011
TTY: (709)722-7998
FAX: (709)722-4424
WEB: www.codnl.ca
EMAIL: codmain@nf.aibn.com

NWT Council of Persons with Disabilities

News from the Northwest Territories - The Council is in the process of providing sensitization workshops in various communities across the NWT outside of Yellowknife. In each of these workshops persons with different disabilities are presenting the experiences, challenges and successes that arise as a result of their disabilities. These workshops are primarily directed towards service providers with the hope that they will provide services that are more understanding and sensitive. Communities targeted this year include Inuvik, Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk, Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River.

A three day conference sponsored by the Council was held during February 2006 in Wha Ti, a Tli Cho community. During this workshop Tli Cho persons with disabilities formed a regional committee of persons with disabilities. The Tli Cho Self-government agreement became law August 2005. This committee will provide a channel through which the Tli Cho persons with disabilities will be able to represent and advocate for themselves.

The Council administers the Accessible Parking Placard program for the NWT. This April is a renewal time for all permanent placard holders. The renewal time is always an opportunity for the Council to get information out to persons with disabilities.

The new accessible public transportation service YATS (Yellowknife Accessible Transportation System) continues to grow since its inauguration August 2005. This is a service that has been lacking in Yellowknife for many years and has now come about as a result of lobbying by the Council and other interested agencies and persons with transportation requirements.

NWT Council of Persons with Disabilities

News from the Northwest Territories - The Council is in the process of providing sensitization workshops in various communities across the NWT outside of Yellowknife. In each of these workshops persons with different disabilities are presenting the experiences, challenges and successes that arise as a result of their disabilities. These workshops are primarily directed towards service providers with the hope that they will provide services that are more understanding and sensitive. Communities targeted this year include Inuvik, Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk, Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River.

A three day conference sponsored by the Council was held during February 2006 in Wha Ti, a Tli Cho community. During this workshop Tli Cho persons with disabilities formed a regional committee of persons with disabilities. The Tli Cho Self-government agreement became law August 2005. This committee will provide a channel through which the Tli Cho persons with disabilities will be able to represent and advocate for themselves.

The Council administers the Accessible Parking Placard program for the NWT. This April is a renewal time for all permanent placard holders. The renewal time is always an opportunity for the Council to get information out to persons with disabilities.

The new accessible public transportation service YATS (Yellowknife Accessible Transportation System) continues to grow since its inauguration August 2005. This is a service that has been lacking in Yellowknife for many years and has now come about as a result of lobbying by the Council and other interested agencies and persons with transportation requirements.

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

Electoral Reform - Many AEBC members were disappointed that no progress on making Canada's electoral system more accessible to blind electors had been made in time for this election. The AEBC favors moving to an electronic voting system which AEBC feels will make the electoral process more accessible for all electors. In the meantime, we want lists of candidates in Braille and large print available in each poll and Braille on the template. AEBC's Elections Committee Chair, Penny Leclair observed in her letter to the Chief Elections Officer, a "Braille list of names should have been provided and a better template that would hold the ballot securely in place, this would have allowed me to be much more independent and given me a secret vote."

AEBC members are hoping for a follow up meeting with the Chief Elections Officer prior to submission of his report on this election to Parliament, and will be active with MPs in the next Parliament, and are considering human rights complaints and the viability of mounting a Charter challenge.

AEBC Seeks Intervener Status in Via Rail Case - The AEBC and Transportation Action Now (TAN) have joined forces with ARCH Disability Law Centre to seek funding from the Court Challenges Program to prepare an application to intervene in the Via Rail case. This intervention would provide an opportunity to raise additional transportation issues, and broader equality concerns to the Court.

AEBC Scholarship Recipients Announced - Again this year, the AEBC has awarded three $1,500 scholarships to outstanding students who are blind or partially sighted to assist them to pursue their studies. This year's recipients are:
Eves Brunet of Ottawa, Ontario - Alan H. Neville Memorial Scholarship
Abebe Abay Teklu of Victoria, British Columbia - The T-Base Communications funded Business, Education and Technology Scholarship. Quyen Le of Hamilton, Ontario - The AEBC National Achievement Scholarship

Visit the AEBC website, www.blindcanadians.ca for more details on these recipients, and for the 2006 Scholarship criteria.

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)

Job Search Strategies Forums Project - A very successful forum was held in Edmonton, Alberta on November 9th, 2005. This was the second event in a two-year NEADS' Job Search Strategies Forums project, addressing practical aspects of successful transition from school to the employment market. Delegates represented a number of colleges and universities from the Edmonton area, and some students with disabilities attended from schools in other parts of Alberta. Participants were attending the following post-secondary institutions: University of Alberta, University of Calgary, Grant MacEwan College, Red Deer College, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Norquest College, Concordia University College of Alberta, and University of Lethbridge. Altogether about 70 people took part in the day-long employment session: students, graduates, service providers, employers, career counselors/professionals and representatives from non-governmental organizations.

The NEADS Edmonton Job Search Strategies Forum included two workshop panels, an exhibit area, and one-on-one resume consultations with career counselors or HR professionals over the lunch period. The exhibit area included displays and representatives from: BMO Financial Group, Canadian Paraplegic Association, Champions Career Centre, DECSA (Distinctive Employment Counselling Services of Alberta), On Site Placement Services Association, TD Canada Trust, Employabilities, and Imperial Oil. Full reports on the Edmonton forum and a forum which took place in Toronto in October are available on our website.

Upcoming Job Search Strategies Forums, supported with funding from BMO Nesbitt Burns' "Equity Through Education Program", will be held in Victoria, British Columbia on Saturday, February 4th and Montreal, Quebec on Saturday, March 18th.

NEADS Online Work System (NOWS) - Our job site, the NEADS Online Work System (NOWS) www.nows.ca has undergone a major re-design with great new features added for students and graduates with disabilities and employers/employment agencies who register to use the free service. Currently we have 960 students and graduates and 53 employers using the service. A demonstration of the features of the NOWS site for employers will be held in Vancouver on Friday, February 3rd thanks to support from the Social Development Partnerships Program (SDPP).

Board of Directors Meetings - A full board of directors meeting, chaired by President Rachael Ross, was held in Ottawa in November, 2005. Our executive directors will be meeting in Toronto at the end of March, 2006. Rachael and Jason Mitschele, our Vice President External, attended the CCD National Consultation titled "Developing a UN Convention on the Human Rights of Disabled People Round Table Discussion", 9-10 December 2005. Fraser MacPhee, our Prince Edward Island board member, represented NEADS at the CCD council meeting in early January. NEADS was also represented at the CAILC International Day of Disabled Persons' event in Ottawa on December 2nd.

20th Anniversary National Conference - Come celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) at our conference: Creating Our Future: On Campus and Beyond. The event will take place at the Delta Ottawa Hotel and Suites, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, from November 10th-12th, 2006.

This year's conference will be an exciting opportunity for students, consumer advocates, service providers, employers and all others interested in exploring key issues of equal access to post-secondary education and employment opportunities for students and graduates with disabilities. We welcome delegates from across Canada and around the world.

The conference operates on a single-track. This means that all delegates will participate in all four of our workshops:

  • Job Search Strategies: Competing in The Employment Market;
  • Looking Into the Future of Post-Secondary Education;
  • Creating Leaders for the Future; and
  • New Developments in Disability Studies.

For further information on the conference contact the NEADS office or visit our website: www.neads.ca

MuchMoreMusic Announces Winner of First Annual AccessAbility Scholarship - (TORONTO - January 17, 2006) MuchMoreMusic and The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) are pleased to announce that Carrie Moffatt of Victoria, BC is the winner of the 2005 MuchMoreMusic AccessAbility Scholarship.

This scholarship awards $3,000 (CDN) in tuition to an applicant with a permanent disability who best demonstrates skill, talent, excellence and enthusiasm in pursuing a future in the broadcast industry. This initiative builds on parent-company CHUM Television's commitment to encouraging participation of persons with disabilities in Canadian broadcasting. NEADS advocates for full access to post-secondary education for disabled students, and helps graduates make the transition to the employment market. The scholarship launched September 1, 2005 with a deadline of November 1; NEADS selected the finalists and a MuchMoreMusic panel chose the recipient.

Moffatt is an Applied Communications student at Victoria's Camosun College. She has been hearing impaired since birth, and started losing her vision at age 16. The combination of hearing loss and the retinitis pigmentosa that caused her tunnel vision led to a November 2004 diagnosis of Usher Syndrome Type 2, an extremely rare genetic condition.

"I forged on and took positive action," says Moffatt in her application. "I am very determined and driven, and I will not let my diminishing sight restrict me...I am looking forward to initiating positive change for people with disabilities, the environment, and the local and global community."

Among Moffatt's many accomplishments are fundraising for the Foundation Fighting Blindness, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Victoria, published journalism and a work-stay in Costa Rica.

"We are pleased to have Carrie Moffatt as the recipient of our first annual AccessAbility Scholarship," says David Kines, Vice President, Music and Youth Specialty Channels, CHUM Television. "This intelligent, capable and enthusiastic young woman has an exciting future ahead of her, and we are delighted that this scholarship can help her reach her goals."

For information on next year's scholarship, interested students should go to: www.muchmoremusic.com/scholarship or contact Jenna Wong, MuchMoreMusic Public Relations.

National Network for Mental Health

In the spring of 2004 folks involved at the Board, Staff, and Member levels of the National Network for Mental Health began discussions about the need for a national coalition of consumer leaders to address the pressing policy issues we all address.
It was expected that if such a coalition was created, we could bring together leaders in mental health from across the country to address policies and positions of the consumers nationally, so that we can all benefit from a united voice. These position papers and policy statements could be adopted as is, or modified to meet the needs of each consumer organization operating in Canada, and will allow us to work and advocate for change with one voice. It is very difficult for government to not take into account our needs if we articulate them the same way in a consistent manner from coast to coast to coast.

On December 17th 2004, Social Development Canada announced approval for the development of our dream coalition of mental health consumer/survivor leaders from across Canada, and enabled the beginning of what is now known as the "Canadian Coalition of Alternative Mental Health Resources".

In mid January 2005 we brought together 24 leaders from across Canada to initiate the creation of the coalition as an entity created and facilitated by the National Network for Mental Health (NNMH) but not owned by the NNMH. At this meeting the founding members of the coalition created the name, mission statement, vision statement and goals of the coalition. At that time they created four committees, each being the Policy Committee, Communication Committee, Research Committee and Conference Planning Committee.

This Coalition continued to grow throughout the first year of its inception and have created; draft policy statements, a plan for planning a national conference, a very comprehensive web site, marketing materials, a data base of consumer driven organizations from across Canada, and have coordinated efforts around issues such as the Mental Health Roundtables chaired by Senator Kirby.
2006 will see the coalition grow even stronger by determining organizational structure and membership criteria, as well as growth within the committees.

By the end of this year we will see consumer/survivor perspective position papers which we will circulate nationally, a database of organizational Best Practices which we can use as a tool to share what is working within our community, the preparations and advertising of the 2007 national conference, and a strong marketing strategy.

This is our coalition, our advocacy tool, our lives… changes are coming, and we want to make sure our voice is heard. ~Constance McKnight, National Executive Director National Network for Mental Health.

Council of Canadians with Disabilities
926-294 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3C 0B9
Tel: 204-947-0303
Fax: 204-942-4625
Email: ccd@ccdonline.ca
Web: ccd@ccdonline.ca