A Voice of Our Own

Volume 25 Issue 3

Mark This Date! Mark This Date!

Date: Thursday, November 22, 2007

Place: National Arts Centre, Ottawa

Time: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

(Evening kick-off to UN International Day of Disabled Persons)

- End Exclusion 2007 -

End Exclusion 2006…..
"Signing the Declaration"

In November 2006, over 300 people gathered in Ottawa to celebrate the accomplishments of Canadians with disabilities over the past 25 years. Over 100 organizations stood together in partnership and solidarity, signing the Declaration of Principle and joining in the discussions which focused on Building an Inclusive and Accessible Canada.

End Exclusion 2007…..
"Moving into Action"

On November 22, 2007, Canadians with disabilities will gather once again in Ottawa and move into action. Using the 2006 Declaration as the foundation, initiative partners will collectively design and launch a national action plan focusing on Building an Inclusive and Accessible Canada.

Organizers are now in the process of:

  • Constructing an updated, interactive website with information about the 2007 initiative and activities.
  • Drafting a national action plan which will be posted on the website between July and September where partners can provide interactive recommendations and critical feedback.
  • Developing the November 22nd agenda.

Connect to www.endexclusion.ca often for updated material, registration information or email: endexclusion@mts.net

Organizing Partners:
Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD)
Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)
Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres (CAILC)

Open Letter to the Minister of Transport

Dear Minister Cannon:

On 8 June 2007, CCD hosted an invitational national consultation on accessible transportation, attended by representatives of organizations of people with disability working for access in the federally regulated transportation system. The Supreme Court of Canada's recent ruling in the CCD v. VIA Rail informed the conversation at the consultation. In this decision, the Supreme Court stated,

162 The accommodation of personal wheelchairs enables persons with disabilities to access public services and facilities as independently and seamlessly as possible. Independent access to the same comfort, dignity, safety and security as those without physical limitations, is a fundamental human right for persons who use wheelchairs. This is the goal of the duty to accommodate: to render those services and facilities to which the public has access equally accessible to people with and without physical limitations.

221 Members of the public who are physically disabled are members of the public. This is not a fight between able-bodied and disabled persons to keep fares down by avoiding the expense of eliminating discrimination. Safety measures can be expensive too, but one would hardly expect to hear that their cost justifies dangerous conditions. In the long run, danger is more expensive than safety and discrimination is more expensive than inclusion.

CCD, and indeed the broad disability community, have made improved access in the federally regulated transportation system (i.e. air, rail, marine, bus) a priority. To assist the Government of Canada work with the disability community on the achievement of this goal, the consultation developed the following recommendations:

Note: Accessibility as referred to here is not simply access related to mobility impairment but rather related to the access needs of all persons with disabilities and grounded in the principles of Universal Design. We are seeking a cross disability framework in the development of an accessible federally regulated transportation system.

The Minister of Transport must immediately develop accessibility regulations similar to the United States regulatory model for all federally regulated modes of transportation and federally regulated transportation service systems (airports, stations, station based ground transport, information systems, etc.).

The Minister of Transport must immediately develop a Disability Organizations Advisory Committee on Accessible Transportation that is resourced to undertake research and provide advice to the Minister of Transport for advancing access and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The Minister of Transport must take immediate action to rebuild the capacity of the Accessibility Unit within Transport Canada to develop a national action plan which includes a research capacity to look at best practices in other jurisdictions, reports annually on goals and achieved outcomes, monitors type and focus of complaints made to CTA and ensures appropriate consultation with the disability community in the development of a national action plan.

The Minister must ensure that the Transport Development Centre has the capacity and direction to engage in research related to identifying new means of advancing accessibility and universal design in all federally regulated modes of transportation and service delivery.

The Government of Canada must attach a strong access standard/universal design principle to all infrastructure initiatives.
Enforcement of accessibility must be strengthened by providing CTA with the powers to grant interim injunctions related to the purchase of any new equipment that would create new barriers, ensuring that CTA can make interim awarding of cost and award human rights remedies.

Legislative reforms must be enacted to ensure that accessibility remains one of the principle objectives of the National Transportation Act.

Following the consultation forty-five organizations became signatories of the document "Building An Inclusive and Accessible Canada Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Policy Statement Re: Transportation Access" (June 2007), which presents the above recommendations and an analysis of the erosion of access in the federally regulated transportation system. (To read the Policy Statement in its entirety visit: www.ccdonline.ca.)

Mr. Minister we look forward to discussing these recommendations and needed actions with you, as we work collaboratively to ensure access for persons with disabilities to the federally regulated transportation system.


Marie White
CCD Chairperson

CCD Annual General Meeting

CCD held its Annual Meeting on 10 June 2007. The CCD National Council of Representatives received the following Committee reports at the Annual Meeting. These reports provide an overview of the activities undertaken by CCD during 2006-07.

International Development Committee Report

Chairperson: Steve Estey
Members: Mary Ennis, Angie Allard, Jim Derksen, David Shannon, Jason Mitschele, Yutta Fricke, Chris Lytle, Mary Reid.

The year 2006-07 was a historic year for the Committee because the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) passed some very significant milestones. The Convention has been the Committee's major focus for the last five years.

The fiscal year ended with a victory celebration for the Committee, when on 30 March 2007, Canada participated in the signing ceremony for the Convention at the United Nations. Steve Estey, CCD's International Committee Chairperson, was invited by the Government of Canada to be part of the Canadian delegation on hand at the United Nations for this momentous event.

Via a press conference and correspondence, CCD along with other disability organizations, particularly the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centers (CAILC) and the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), vigorously encouraged Canada's New Government to be part of the historic signing ceremony for the Convention at the United Nations.
Steve Estey was a member of the Canadian delegation, which participated in the Ad Hoc Committee meetings in August at the UN, which completed the legal drafting of the Convention.

In preparation for the finalization of the Convention's text, CCD held a community consultation on the Convention in Ottawa 19-20 May 2006. All members of the Committee attended this event, along with representatives from many other consumer organizations, and human rights advocates.

Steve Estey participated in the North American Caribbean Regional Meetings of Disabled Peoples' International and was elected to the Executive Committee as Information Officer.

Transportation Committee Report

Chairperson: Pat Danforth
Committee Members: David Baker (Legal Counsel), Bill Crawford, Ron Ross, Claredon Robicheau.

This year, CCD won a major victory in the VIA rail case and continued to advocate on a long-standing principle-one person/one fare. The highlights of our work during 2006-07 were as follows:

On 23 March 2007, in CCD v. VIA Rail, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal which had allowed VIA Rail to run inaccessible passenger rail cars with impunity. The Supreme Court sent a clear message to VIA Rail, and indeed all Canadians, that service inaccessible to Canadians with disabilities will not be tolerated.

On 19 May 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the VIA case. David Baker, CCD's legal counsel for this case, presented CCD's arguments to the Court. CCD Transportation Committee Chairperson Pat Danforth attended the proceedings, as did other CCD representatives and supporters.

A number of disability community groups intervened in the VIA Rail case. The interveners from the disability community were: a coalition of organizations consisting of CCD's member group AEBC, Trans Action Now, an Ontario-based coalition, the Canadian Association for Community Living, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, DAWN Canada and CAILC.

CCD continued pursuing its complaint at the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) addressing the one person/one fare principle. CCD's position is that travelers with disabilities who need to travel with an attendant should not be required to pay an additional fare. David Baker is legal counsel for this case.

The CCD Transportation Committee submitted comments to the Canadian Transportation Agency about CTA's voluntary code of practice on station and terminal accessibility. CCD spoke out loud and clear about the fact that it no longer accepts voluntary codes of practice. CCD's experience with VIA Rail has proven that voluntary codes do not result in access.

CCD expressed concerns about Bill C-11 to the Minister of Transport. Bill C-11 will remove a commitment to access from the Canadian Transportation Act's declaration section. This change is more evidence of a waning commitment to access in the federally regulated transportation system.

Human Rights Committee Report

Chairperson: Yvonne Peters (Equality Rights Lawyer)
Members: Gwen Brodsky (Equality Rights Lawyer, Vancouver, BC); Frances Kelly (Equality Rights Lawyer, Vancouver, BC); Pat Danforth (Transportation, Equity and Diversity Advisor, Victoria, BC); Peter Tonge (Lawyer with Legal Aid Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba); Jim Derksen (Disability Policy Advisor, Winnipeg, Manitoba); Stefanie Marinich (Lawyer and Employment Equity Consultant, Toronto, Ontario); Dean Richert (Lawyer in General Practice with an Emphasis on Equality Rights, Winnipeg, Manitoba).

During 2006-07, the CCD Human Rights Committee worked on several important legal interventions.

The Committee meets regularly by conference call to consider intervening in cases of significance to people with disabilities. The Committee selects cases based on a set of criteria it has developed.

CCD intervened in the case of Bob Brown v. National Capital Commission, which is at the Federal Court. CCD intervened in the case to present our views on a universal approach to design, the duty to accommodate and how government should consult with the disability community. The Committee selected ARCH and Ena Chadha as legal counsel for this case.

The CCD Human Rights Committee assisted CCD develop its factum for the Supreme Court case against VIA Rail, regarding the inaccessible Renaissance cars. Following the decision, the Committee began the process of undertaking a legal analysis of the decision.

In the fall, when Canada's New Government announced it would no longer fund the Court Challenges Program (CCP), CCD's Human Rights Committee shifted into high gear and became part of an information sharing and letter writing effort with other equality seeking groups to demonstrate how the CCP provided access to justice to Canadians experiencing discrimination and unequal treatment. To date, the Canadian government has not reversed its position on funding for the CCP.

CCD undertook a research project, which examined how well the processes of the Canadian Human Rights Commission meet the needs of persons with disabilities who bring complaints of discrimination to the Commission. The undertaking of this research project has resulted in improved communications between the Canadian Human Rights Commission and CCD.

A new member will be participating on the Committee in 2007-08, as Ravi Malhotra, who is a member of the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law, joined the Committee in April.

Access to Technology Committee Report

Chairperson: Kier Martin
Members: Gary Birch, Jason Mitschele, Brain Moore, Barbara Anello, Michelle Murdoch.

The highlights of the Committee's work during 2006-07 are as follows:

On behalf of CCD, Kier Martin has been participating in the activities of the Disability and Information Technologies (Dis-IT) Research Alliance, which is examining how information technologies can increase the quality of life and the inclusion of Canadians with disabilities in four theme areas: workplaces, e-learning, retail and public services, e-democracy.

The Community Co-Director of the Dis-It project, Gary Annable, has been working out of the CCD office throughout the duration of the project.

Kier Martin has been CCD's representative at meetings addressing the disposition of the Deferral Account, that has been designated for use on disability issues. The CRTC decided that 5% of the Deferral Account would be used to improve telecommunications access for persons with disabilities. The disability community has been organizing and holding meetings to determine how the money should be used. The CRTC decision which left the money with the telecommunications companies was not the disability community's first choice. From the point of view of the disability community, it would have been preferable if an external fund had been created for the purpose of encouraging the ICT industry to develop accessible devices.

CCD Award Winners 2006

BCCPD-Valerie Thoem
ACCD-Travis McNally
Saskatchewan Voice-George Ward
MLPD-Steven Fletcher, MP
COPHAN-Marie Turcotte
NS LEO-Ron Levy
PEI-Laurel Smyth
CAD-Patrick Lazure
NEADS-Kimberly Gerritsen
NNMH-Loïse Forest
TVAC-Aline Vachon
People First Canada-John Cox
AEBC-John Rae
NWT Council-Josie Gould

New Honorary Member-On 8 June 2007, CCD made David Baker an Honorary Member of CCD in recognition of long standing contribution to the work of CCD and disability rights in Canada. During the presentation to David Baker, Laurie Beachell made the following comments:

CCD has only twice before awarded an Honorary Membership to an individual and frankly never before to a person without a disability. Previously CCD has bestowed Honorary Membership on Peggy Allan and Irene McGinn. Today, CCD wishes to award an Honorary CCD Membership to David Baker for his outstanding contribution to the disability rights movement in Canada.

David's history of support of CCD is quite incredible. He has been legal counsel in such fundamental cases as: Bhinder, O'Malley, Andrews. Grismer, Lovelace, Chesters, Eldridge, McKay Panos, One Person/ One Fare, Clarisse Kelly. and of Course VIA Rail.

David was also Executive Director of ARCH when other legal counsel at ARCH represented CCD in cases such as Granovsky, Wignall, Council of Churches, Rodriquez, Thwaites.

He has also represented the disability community in other cases where CCD was not involved- Eaton, Brown, CRTC captioning complaints.

David found for CCD Bob Richards who so ably represented CCD in our long struggle with the Latimer case.

David did CCD's first papers on: Tax Reform 1988, Post Censal Survey 1986, Canadians with Disabilities Act 1999, Transportation Access 2003.

David has been legal counsel, advisor, member of the transport committee, friend and financial supporter of CCD. His record of support is long, substantive and unwavering. He is principled in his approach and fully supports consumer direction and control. His contributions to CCD are not complete and this award does allow for retirement but rather obligates the individual to support CCD for life. Today we take this particular moment in time to recognize and honor David Baker's long term contribution, principled support and excellent work.

John Rae, CCD Vice Chair, Receives SOCIAL JUSTICE AWARD 2007-On Saturday, 9 June 2007, in Toronto, John Rae was recognized for his community work dedicated to: the elimination of poverty and inequality; in support of sustainable public services; and advocacy for social change.

The Social Justice Awards are intended to recognize and encourage volunteers who have made an outstanding contribution to their community.

Continuing a tradition established by the former Metro Network for Social Justice in the 1990's, these annual awards are a joint project of the Centre for Social Justice, the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

John Rae receives 2007 Social Justice Award from Toronto Mayor David Miller.

UN convention on disability rights reaches milestone in signatories

11 July 2007 - United Nations officials say the global treaty to protect the rights of the world's estimated 650 million people with disabilities could take effect by early next year after Qatar this week became the 100th country to sign the landmark pact.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will enter into force 30 days after the 20th country ratifies the treaty, but so far only Jamaica has taken the step of ratification.

The UN Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities estimates that the next 19 ratifications could be reached by as early as the end of this year.

UN disability expert Thomas Schindlmayr said today that the pact is designed to maintain human rights "standards that the international community has agreed upon for all."
He said as many as two-thirds of UN Member States do not have any legal protection for people with disabilities, even though they comprise one in 10 of the global population.
The Convention is supposed to "ensure that people with disabilities enjoy the same human rights that everyone else does in their respective societies… It is not granting any 'new' human rights."

Since opening for signature on 30 March, the Convention has quickly garnered support from Member States. The 100 signatories to the treaty so far include 55 countries that have also signed the Optional Protocol. That protocol allows for individuals and groups to petition the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities once all national recourse and procedures have been exhausted.

"We are pleased by the commitment shown by so many Member States," Mr. Schindlmayr said.

Adopted by the General Assembly last December, the Convention was one of the fastest treaties ever negotiated at the UN. The pact provides that States which ratify it should enact laws and other measures to improve disability rights, and also abolish legislation, customs and practices that discriminate against persons with disabilities.

BC Coalition of People with Disabilities

BCCPD is undertaking a project this summer to urge the BC government to create a new Wrongful Death Act. The current law in BC does not recognize forms of loss other than those causing a direct financial impact. For example, families cannot seek fair compensation after the wrongful death of their loved ones, for their loss of guidance, care and companionship or for the damage caused by stress, anguish grief. Families who are devastated by an unexpected death do not have any right to non-pecuniary (non-financial) damages.

BCCPD, along with the Coalition Against No Fault In BC (CANF), met with several families last fall who had lost someone through drunk driving accidents, medical malpractise, and other "wrongful deaths." Their stories were heart-wrenching and they illustrate a legal gap that cuts off any avenue to justice for people in these situations.

There are two components to this project. First, a plain language paper will be prepared with an analysis of the current legal framework and our recommendations for changes. Second, some families have generously agreed to tell their stories which will be published in an anthology. These families will not benefit from any legal changes themselves. Their hope is to improve access to justice for others in the future.

BCCPD and CANF have had preliminary and promising meetings with the BC Attorney General's office. We will use the paper and anthology to advocate for a long-overdue update to BC's laws that will fairly compensate families.

Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities

New AISH Act and Regulations in Effect

On May 1, 2007, the Alberta government brought into effect a new Act and Regulations for the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program.

Some of the changes to the AISH program include:

  • A $50 increase in the maximum monthly living allowance (retroactive to April 1, 2007)
  • More flexibility regarding the frequency of income reports
  • More clarity around eligibility for Modified AISH
  • Provisions to ensure clients can exhaust all appeal mechanisms when assessed an overpayment, before the program begins collecting a debt
  • Improved tone and language of the legislation

As well, the AISH Guide was replaced with a series of AISH tip sheets. These tip sheets focus on the following topics:

  • AISH Facts
  • Eligibility for AISH
  • Treatment of Income and Assets
  • Employment Income
  • AISH Health Benefits
  • AISH Personal Benefits
  • Living in a Facility
  • Applying for AISH
  • Reporting Changes
  • Overpayments and Debts
  • Appealing a Decision
  • Office Locations
  • Terms Used in AISH

If you'd like to learn more about Alberta's AISH program, visit the Alberta Seniors and Community Supports Services website at www.seniors.gov.ab.ca/AISH.

Home Care Funding Ceiling Removed

On May 16, Alberta Health and Wellness announced its support for a recommendation made by the MLA Task Force on Continuing Care to remove the $3,000 monthly funding ceiling for home care services.

The announcement states: "Eliminating the funding cap for home care clients, particularly for higher need clients, will allow more Albertans to stay in their communities with their family and friends while still receiving the care services they require."

Partnerships with Other Organizations

The Alberta Disabilities Forum (ADF) is a coalition of 40 disability organizations that speak with a united voice on issues of importance to Albertans with disabilities. ACCD is presently working with the ADF on the following issues:

Access to Medications: The ADF Health Working Group has put together areas of concern regarding potential changes to access to medications. A questionnaire has been sent to ADF members and 86 responses were received - 68 from individuals and 18 from organizations. These responses have come from a wide range of organizations and individuals (Autism/Asperger's, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, mental illness, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, paraplegic/quadriplegic) who are taking a broad range of medications. The number of responses in a short period suggests a keen interest in this area.

Issues the committee is addressing are ensuring high quality, affordable public health plans, concern that the focus on sustainability will create barriers to access to medications for people with disabilities, ensuring a broad range of medications are covered on the formulary, ensuring government policies focus on quality of life and the ability to contribute to the community, and coverage for over the counter medication, vitamins/supplements, and alternative medicines/therapies.

Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH): The ADF Low-income Working Group is preparing a presentation to the Cabinet Policy Committee to request that the Alberta government guarantee the sustainability and enhancement of AISH financial and health benefits. The presentation includes the history of increases to the AISH program, factual information on increases to cost of living in Alberta, and personal stories of how AISH recipients are faring on the $1,050 income support amount per month.

The ADF Low-income Working Group's goals are to monitor and impact the 2007 bi-annual review of the benefit rate as recommended in #1 of the Report and Recommendations of the MLA AISH Review Committee (2005), to influence the government of Alberta to accept the general principle that the AISH benefit rate should be increased yearly, and to propose that an affordable housing benefit be provided as part of an enhancement to the AISH program benefits.

Continuing Care: The ADF Continuing Care Working Group recently finalized two documents with regard to continuing care health services and accommodations. These documents are (1) Choices in Accommodation and Care, and (2) Choices in Accommodations and Care Priorities; Continuing Care in Alberta. The group was invited by the Executive Director with Alberta Health and Wellness Policy to submit a list of continuing care priorities pertaining to young adults with disabilities. The ADF working group undertook the task of identifying, elaborating on, and prioritizing these issues.

ADF recognizes that "one size does not fit all' and that different groups and people may perceive priorities differently depending on their circumstances. It is critical to recognize that individuals with different disabilities have different needs within the continuing care continuum. Central to this is the need for people to direct their own care; to have choices in their care, and how they live. It is important to note that the issues and solutions outlined in these documents specifically address the recommendations outlined in Alberta's Health and Accommodation Service Standards implementation documents. As such, these documents cannot and do not attempt to highlight other areas in dire need of attention such as unique cultural considerations - including the significant concerns of aboriginal people, end of life care, and medical equipment and supplies.

If you wish to receive these documents, email bev@accd.net.

The Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities

Manitoba Taxicab Board Public Hearing Presentation—In July, the MLPD will be appearing before the Manitoba Taxicab Board to oppose a 20% Tariff of fare increase to Handicab Van Taxicabs. Our argument makes clear that an increase poses a financial hardship for persons with disabilities and seniors, the main riders of these vans. Social service agencies currently providing travel vouchers would have to cut back on the number of chits distributed to individuals which would ultimately place a burden on already strained systems such as Handi-Transit. An interesting scenario is posed here, as Winnipeg is the only Canadian city with the category of 'Handicab Van Taxicabs'. All other major cities utilize Accessible taxicabs which essentially meet the same purpose as handicab van taxicabs.

Strategic Planning—The MLPD gears up for a major Strategic Planning and Visioning session this September involving our members, branches and the disability community. We're going to examine our past, present and future and see what we can become!

New Provincial Disabilities Coalition Formed—As the result of a very successful May provincial election event held at our legislative building to publicly announce the disability platforms of Manitoba's three main political parties, a new coalition of fifteen cross-disability organizations was formed. The coalition, organized to effectively strategize and present a unified voice on three identified priority issues important to the disability community realized the value and strength of a committed collective. This 15 member coalition would like to continue to meet to identify common issues and solutions and lobby as a partnership in building an accessible and inclusive Manitoba.

PEI Council of the Disabled

Provincial Election - PEI held a provincial election on May 28th and went from a majority PC government to a majority Liberal government. The Council took an active part on the campaign by way of a survey of local candidates, a survey of party Leaders, media releases on a range of disability issues and a public information on disability election issues and other background information. Similar to other recent federal and municipal elections, the main vehicle for the campaign was the Council's web site, combined with a number of media releases. The number of page views and visitors to the web site set all time records. They tend to increase dramatically when we run a campaign of this sort but our totals this time were much greater than ever before. We focussed our campaign work on accessible, affordable housing, accessibility issues [especially including accessible public transit], and the provincial Disability Support Program [DSP]. Significant numbers of candidates replied to our survey, especially among the winning Liberals, and the responses were posted to our site within 24 hours of our receiving them from a candidate. The new government made a number of promises regarding disability issues, including doing a full review of the DSP. To date, it appears that they will implement their major promises, but a Throne Speech will not come until the Fall.

Affordable, Accessible Housing Campaign - The Council's "Affordable Homes, Accessible Homes" campaign continued during the Spring. It is aimed at improving the supply of accessible and affordable housing in PEI. Some of our campaign has included:

  • Meeting with Mayors of the province's largest seven communities characterized as "briefings" for the Mayors on accessible, affordable housing as well as public transit and other accessibility issues. After meeting with the Mayors of Charlottetown we were invited to repeat the briefing with the whole Charlottetown City Council. This occurred on May 9th and led to at least one near immediate success - announcement of a public works priority to repair sidewalks in a part of town where they were nearly impassable to many people with disabilities. A meeting with the Mayor of Souris, led to a town council decision the next evening to make some of the issues we raised a priority for the town. The meeting with the Mayor of Cornwall has led to the likelihood that the town council will deal with a by-law regarding mandatory inclusion of accessible units in new multi-unit construction. The Council has only one of the seven Mayors left to go.

  • The Council [as mentioned above] made housing one of our issues during our provincial election campaign work.

  • During the Summer we will be planning the next phase of the campaign that will take us through to achieving some of our goals in 2007-08.

Meeting with the Mayor of Souris - from left to right - Ann McPhee, President, PEI Council of the Disabled, Joanne Reid, Mayor, Town of Souris, Teresa MacKinnon, Kings County Community Access Worker, PEI Council of the Disabled.

Around the Block - The Council's third "Around the Block" project completed their province-wide tour for over 2,000 elementary students in April and May. The wrap up was a VIP show held at the Charlottetown Arts Guild main stage on May 11. The project received excellent media attention and will hopefully be back for another year in the Fall, dependant on continued Service Canada funding. Project participants learn employability and life skills as well as how to produce a theatrical performance, while putting on a 20 to 30 minute show that sensitizes children to disabilities and disability issues.

Youth the Future - The Youth the Future project had it's closing ceremony on Friday, July 6 in Montague. Seven Kings County youth between the ages of 15 and 30 participated in the 23-week project. The participants presented "I'm Wendy Blair, Not a Chair" to assembled friends, family and dignitaries. "Wendy Blair" was the book that the group brought to the schools as part of the community component of the project. A total of 46 Kings County elementary classes with over 1,143 students participated in the "I'm Wendy Blair, Not a Chair" presentations. Each class received five copies of the Wendy Blair book so that the children can continue to enjoy the book and learn from its positive message. This group of young people did an amazing job as they learned and developed new skills to ready themselves for setting plans for their future goals. Before touring schools at the east end of the Island, participants developed their life and personal development skills, and prepared for the presentations, by contacting schools, making props, and practicing. The project was done in partnership with the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW) and with funding by Service Canada's Youth Employment Strategy.

The staff and "graduates" of the Youth the Future project.

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

AEBC ELECTS ITS 6th President

At its biennial Conference and AGM in Victoria in May, the AEBC elected Mr. Robin East of Saskatoon as its sixth President. Also elected were John Rae, 1st Vice President; Richard Quan, 2nd Vice President; Marcia Cummings, Secretary; and Devon Wilkins, Director Without Portfolio. They join Anthony Tibbs and Denise Sanders on the seven-member National Board of Directors.

Resolutions adopted cover such diverse topics as preserving human rights protection, accessible elections, and fighting poverty.

Resolution 2007-09

Whereas, far too many Canadians with disabilities, including blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted individuals, have incomes far below the established poverty line; and

Whereas, many of these individuals remain unemployed or under-employed; and

Whereas, many Canadians with disabilities are prevented from enjoying the benefits of full integration into their communities because of negative public stereotypes and attitudes; and

Whereas, recent efforts by Government aimed at increasing the minimum wage do not address or affect the needs of the most disadvantaged individuals with disabilities;

Now Therefore be it Resolved, that, the AEBC advocate to all levels of Government for the introduction of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, that will include the needs of unemployed Canadians as well as those employed at low-paying jobs;

And be it further resolved, that such a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy should include the following basic principles:

A. Income support programs must reflect the real cost of living; B. Income support programs must provide adequately for the cost of disability itself; C. Income support programs must provide to individuals and families the basic income necessary to promote good health and nutrition, adequate and safe housing tied to market rent rates, and an additional allowance to cover clothing, utilities, transportation and incidentals necessary to ensure a reasonable quality of life standard; D. Income support programs must be at an adequate level to promote and encourage individuals to participate with dignity in the life of their communities and provide the resources necessary to re-enter the work force if and when possible; E. Disincentives to employment should be reduced with the long term goal of their eventual elimination.

Be it further resolved that the AEBC join with other social justice organizations and action coalitions advocating for such goals and principles across Canada.


Speaking at CCD's National Transportation Forum in Winnipeg, John Rae discussed a number of transportation issues of concern to the blind community, including obtaining appropriate assistance at airports, the need for adequate space onboard aircrafts for the carriage of guide dogs, and two relatively newer issues, onboard flat screen entertainment systems which are not usable by blind passengers and the dangers of the hybrid quiet car.


John Rae presented AEBC's quiet car paper at the 11th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons in Montreal in June. The paper, which discusses the dangers of these new quiet automobiles, can be found on the AEBC's website at: http://www.blindcanadians.ca/press_releases//index.php?BriefID=42


At the 2007 Conference and AGM, the AEBC Board ratified bylaws from its new chapter in Edmonton, which gives it 11 chapters, the highest number in its history.

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)

NEADS Announces Executive Directors and CCD Award Winner

Members of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students' (NEADS) board of directors selected its executive directors on Sunday, June 24th during a meeting in Ottawa. We are very pleased to report that the following outstanding representatives will serve on the executive until November, 2008:

  • Mahadeo Sukhai, President (Open Representative)
  • Tim McIsaac Vice-President Internal (Manitoba Representative)
  • Margaret Shalma, Vice-President External (Ontario Representative)
  • Fraser MacPhee, Secretary/Treasurer (Prince Edward Island Representative)

Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai, President of NEADS, recently completed his doctoral thesis in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, and is currently serving as a post-doctoral fellow in leukemia biology. Mahadeo was active in disability issues and University of Toronto governance throughout his time as a PhD student and remains committed to volunteering in governance, disability and education. Dr. Sukhai has represented NEADS at numerous conferences and meetings across Canada and has forged significant partnerships between our organization and other equity seeking non-governmental organizations and associations in the post-secondary community.

Tim McIsaac, Vice-President Internal of NEADS, is completing five years of Service with the St.James/Assinaboia Assiniboine South Community Health Advisory Council with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. He is involved with the board of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students as chair of its Proposal Development Committee. He has held the position of Career/Rehabilitation Counselor at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and a Special Needs Council at Dakota Collegiate. Tim has been involved with the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities, City of Winnipeg Access Advisory Committee, Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Canadian Blind Sports Association and the Manitoba Sports and Recreation Association for the Blind. He has over 13 years experience in the banking industry as a Financial Officer and Customer Service Representative.

Margaret Shalma, Vice-President External of NEADS is completing an undergraduate degree majoring in women and equity studies at the University of Toronto. She intends to go on to complete a Masters in critical disability studies. Margaret is actively involved as a volunteer in a variety of organizations: chairperson for the Students' For Barrier Free Access, a University of Toronto student group run for and by students with disabilities. Her interests are in the areas of disability arts/culture and disability and sports.

Fraser MacPhee, Secretary Treasurer, a student at Holland College, is a member of the University of Prince Edward Island's Access-Ability Committee. He also works closely with faculty at Holland College on issues relating to access and accommodation for disabled students. Fraser represented NEADS at the Building an Inclusive and Accessible Canada national disability symposium in November 2006.

Rachael Ross, NEADS' Past-President, will act as an advisor to the board and executive for the next two years.

The NEADS recipient of the 2006 Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Award is Kimberley Gerritsen, former NEADS Alberta Representative and 2006 national conference Chair. Each year CCD recognizes leaders in the disability community from member groups for their "valued contribution to the disability rights movement in Canada." Kim was selected for this award by NEADS for her exceptional work in organizing the 2006 national conference "Creating Leaders For the Future: On Campus and Beyond."


Much More Music
$5000 Accessibility Scholarship

As part of their commitment to encouraging participation by persons with disabilities in Canadian broadcasting, MuchMoreMusic is proud to offer the annual AccessAbility Scholarship. Created in partnership with the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), this $5000 scholarship, to go toward tuition and payable directly to the post-secondary educational institution, will be awarded to the individual who best demonstrates skill, talent, excellence and enthusiasm in pursuing a future in the broadcast industry.

DEADLINE: 1 November 2007.

Application form, scholarship criteria and other details at muchmoremusic.com/scholarship

People First of Canada

People First of Canada Freedom Tour

August 18th-30th, 2007

Photo of fight people and a motorhome. It reads: Free Our People ProjectThe Free Our People Project started on a cold February day when self-advocates and their allies assembled at the Manitoba Legislature to raise awareness about the government's decision to invest 40 million dollars into the Manitoba Developmental Centre (MDC), an institution where nearly 400 people labeled with an intellectual disability are being warehoused.

Since then, five members of People First of Winnipeg: Valerie Wolbert, David Weremy, Kevin Johnson, Susie Weiszmann and Mark Blanchette have been working with Josée Boulanger, a community filmmaker from Winnipeg, to produce five Video Self-Portraits, the Free Our Friends Radio Show, The People First Freedom Tour and a Documentary Film about these stories of self-advocacy and of institutional survival across the Prairies.

On August 18th, 2007, this group along with members of People First of Canada and the National Film Board of Canada will travel across the Prairie Provinces in an RV. The starting point is Winnipeg then they go to Portage la Prairie, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Red Deer and wrap things up with a Closing Ceremony in Calgary. The People First Freedom Tour will help raise awareness about people still living in institutions, collect and share stories and of course film this amazing journey! The tour runs from August 18th, 2007 to August 30th, 2007.

Contact Us if you would like to get involved in the Freedom Tour: Project Coordinator: Josée Boulanger Cell: 1-204-998-6846
e-mail: freedom.tour@yahoo.ca
Website: www.freeourpeople.ca

Council of Canadians with Disabilities

926-294 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3C 0B9
Phone: 204-947-0303
TDD: 204-943-4757
Fax: 204-942-4625
Toll Free: 1-866-947-0303
Email: ccd@ccdonline.ca

A Voice of Our Own

is produced through the resources provided by Human Resources Development Government of Canada.

(Articles appearing in "A Voice of Our Own" may not represent positions held by CCD)