A Voice of Our Own: January 2008

Volume 26 Issue 1

In the Quarterly Report, you will find an update on key activities undertaken by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD):

One-Person One-Fare Policy

by Hue Nguyen (Hue Nguyen is a first-year law student at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto)

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities was recently involved in a successful case concerning the rights of individuals with disabilities in domestic air travel; the landmark decision was released by the Canadian Transportation Agency (the Agency), an independent quasi-judicial tribunal of the Government of Canada. Part V of the Canada Transportation Act contains accessible transportation provisions, which confer on the Agency the responsibility to eliminate undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities within the federal transportation network.

The Agency's Decision was Based on the Following Principles of Accessibility:

  1. Persons with disabilities have the same rights as others to full participation in all aspects of society.
  2. Equal access to transportation is critical to the ability of persons with disabilities to exercise that right.
  3. Persons with disabilities have the same needs to travel as others and should have the same travel options that are provided to others, such as those respecting mode of transportation, departure times, cost, quality of service and the ability to travel with friends, family or colleagues.
  4. All persons with disabilities are entitled to be treated in the same manner regardless of the underlying reason for their disability and there should be no discrimination between persons with disabilities in terms of entitlement to benefits.
  5. Persons with disabilities are to be treated with dignity and respect.
  6. Persons with disabilities should not be placed at an economic disadvantage as a result of their disabilities and should not have to pay more for their transportation services than other passengers who do not have disabilities.

These principles of accessibility form the basis of what is commonly referred to in the community of persons with disabilities as the principle of "One-Person One-Fare" (1P1F) Policy.

The Agency concluded that policies to charge persons with disabilities for additional seats required to accommodate their disabilities, either for an Attendant[1] or themselves, represents an economic disadvantage arising directly from these persons' disabilities. Furthermore, Air Canada and WestJet failed to demonstrate that the economic and financial implications of a "one-person one-fare" policy in the domestic market would constitute hardship to them.

The Agency's Order for Corrective Measures:

1. The Gander International Airport Authority

  • for travel on domestic air services, the Gander International Airport Authority shall not charge or collect an airport improvement fee for additional seats needed by persons with disabilities who are required to travel with Attendants under an air carrier's domestic tariff.

2. Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet

  • These carriers shall not charge a fare for additional seats provided to the following persons with disabilities:
    1. (a) persons with more severe disabilities who are required to travel with an Attendant who will assist them in meeting specific personal care needs in-flight, in particular with meals, taking medication and using the toilet and/or who will provide physical assistance to them in the event of an emergency evacuation or decompression,
    2. (b) persons with disabilities who require additional seating for themselves to accommodate their disability to travel by air; and
    3. (c) persons who are disabled as a result of obesity

The Agency is setting a 12-month period for the finalization and implementation of the corrective measures ordered, thus the above measures will be in effect January 10, 2009.

The decision does NOT apply to:

  1. persons with disabilities or others who prefer to travel with a companion for personal reasons,
  2. persons with disabilities who require a personal care attendant at destination, but not in-flight; and
  3. persons who are obese but not disabled as a result of their obesity.

New Member

CCD has a new associate member--Citizens With Disabilities Ontario. To learn more about CWDO, please go to their web site at: http://www.cwd-o.org.

Disabling Poverty and Enabling Citizenship: Examining Exclusions and Identifying Opportunities for the Full Participation of Canadians with Disabilities

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is rolling out a unique research alliance: Disabling Poverty and Enabling Citizenship. For the next five years, legal researcher Yvonne Peters, CCD, and Dr. Michael J. Prince, University of Victoria, Principal Investigators, for this strategic initiative, will lead a team of disability community and academic researchers dedicated to bringing forward recommendations and plans for alleviating the disproportionate poverty of Canadians with disabilities.

The CCD led team submitted its research proposal to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council's (SSHRC) Community University Research Alliance (CURA) competition, where the application was reviewed by a panel of Canadian researchers and judged on its merits. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) allocated a million dollars to this project over the next five years. "Typically, SSHRC projects are awarded to academic institutions, but this project was awarded to CCD, vesting control and direction of the project with a disability community organization," states Yvonne Peters. "For our community, self-determination of the research process is a fundamental component of our wider disability rights work, which addresses the economic, social, political and cultural domains." Of the 92 CURA grants awarded over the years, only 10 are community led and CCD's project is one of the ten.

The foundation of a CURA initiative is a collaborative partnership between community and university researchers. In addition to CCD, the community organizations in the research alliance are: the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), National Network for Mental Health (NNMH), People First of Canada (PFC), National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO), Caledon Institute on Social Policy. As a goal is to strengthen the capacity of disability organizations to undertake research and engage in policy debates, the alliance has included on-going opportunities for knowledge sharing with the disability community. The Universities partnering in this project are: University of Victoria, University of Toronto, University of New Brunswick, University of Manitoba, University of Victoria, University of Toronto, University of New Brunswick, University of Manitoba, Université du Québéc à Montréal.

In summary, the research will:

  • Provide a demographic profile of poverty and exclusion from the perspective of Canadians with disabilities;
  • Delineate how public and private income programs and disability support services interact in specific jurisdictions;
  • Outline existing legal protections and identify needed protections for persons with disabilities living in poverty;
  • Analyze the major poverty alleviation reforms proposed over the past 30 years;
  • Present reform options that will substantively improve the material living conditions and life chances of people with disabilities and their families;
  • Incorporate a gender analysis in all aspects of the research.

"A consensus exists that the issues of poverty and disability must be addressed however, to date advancement has been very incremental and there has been no clear understanding or consensus on staged policy reforms that would more substantively address the long-term problem," states Dr. Michael J. Prince, Landsdowne Professor of Social Policy at the University of Victoria. "The Research Alliance will work to build greater knowledge and awareness of the need for reform and present specific policy recommendations that could be implemented to reduce the disproportionate poverty experienced by Canadians with disabilities."

The Research Alliance decided to structure its work under four themes: Poverty and Exclusion, Income Security/Social Policy, Poverty/Disability/Equality, Policy Reform: Roles of State and Society. Each theme is responsible for investigating a key issue: The Poverty and Exclusion theme, directed by Prof. Ernie Lightman (University of Toronto) and Cam Crawford (CACL), interrogates the relationship between poverty and disability for the purpose of developing a demographic profile. Income Security/Social Policy, led by Dr. Michael J. Prince and Dr. Michael Bach (CACL), will map the connections between income security and disability-related supports in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, as well as examining federal tax and income programs. Poverty/Disability/Equality, headed by Yvonne Peters (CCD) and Prof. Debra Parkes (University of Manitoba), will assess the effectiveness of the Canadian Charterof Rights and Freedoms and other rights-based statutes, policies and case law in protecting the economic and social rights of persons with disabilities to the necessities of life. Policy Reform: Roles of State and Society, under the guidance of Ms. Peters and Dr. Prince, will examine the roles of both the state and society in reducing and eliminating the impact of poverty on disability.

More specifically, the themes will be investigating the following questions:

Poverty and Exclusion:

Who are the persons with disabilities living in poverty in Canada by age, gender, education level, employment status, disability and region?

What are the key factors that contribute to the pervasive poverty experienced by persons with disabilities?

How do persons with disabilities living in poverty interpret and understand their own circumstances and barriers to economic and social participation?

What is the impact of disability upon family income, and if negative, what solutions would improve the economic security of families with children with disabilities?

Income Security/Social Policy:

How do public and private income security programs interact and interrelate for persons with disabilities, and what reforms could be implemented to provide greater income security and remove barriers to social participation? Do benefits or improvements in one program get offset or clawed back by other programs?

What is the relationship between income security programs, social policy and related disability support programs? What are the barriers to social inclusion created by the manner in which programs are designed? How comprehensive and coordinated are the programs and services available, and what are the primary barriers in the system to ensuring greater economic independence? Does the existing system create disincentives to employment, and if so, what reforms could be implemented to remove these disincentives?

Have labor market agreements between the federal and provincial governments had any significant impact on improved labor market participation for Canadians with disabilities?


What role has the Charterguarantee of equality and mobility rights and the statutory protection of human rights played in safeguarding the economic and social rights of persons with disabilities? Are further rights required?

Does the current array of income and disability supports meet the requirements of the Charterand human rights legislation; that is, do they promote inclusion, full citizenship and access to all aspects of Canadian society?

What equality rights protections exist for people living in poverty? How are social and economic rights of poor people protected, and what guarantees exist to ensure the basics of food, shelter and clothing? Are these guarantees equally available regardless of where you reside in Canada?

If Canada signs on to the UN Convention on the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities, will persons with disabilities living in poverty be afforded greater protection?

Policy Reform: Roles of State and Society

What is the current distribution of responsibility and distribution of costs for enabling access to income and supports, between governments, markets, family caregivers, voluntary sector/social economy and community organizations?

What are the consequences of this distribution for persons with disabilities, unpaid caregivers and women caregivers in particular, different levels of government, and the voluntary sector in this area of delivery?

To what extent does this distribution meet the tests of the intergovernmental accord on disability, In Unison, and equivalent accords at the provincial level (e.g. Quebec) and tests for citizenship of people with disabilities as developed through case law?

Biographical Information on Principal Researchers

Yvonne Peters

Yvonne Peters

Yvonne has been practicing law in Winnipeg since 1989. Her main focus is equality rights law. As a sole practitioner, she provides a blend of legal and policy advice to individuals, unions, community groups, the corporate sector and government.

Yvonne has been involved in a number of precedent-setting Supreme Court cases including the Eldridge case (providing sign language services to deaf persons) and the VIA Rail case (providing accessible train service for persons with disabilities). She has also been involved in the implementation of regulated midwifery in Manitoba and the establishment of the Aboriginal midwifery baccalaureate program offered by the University College of the North. She has written many articles and conducted many workshops on the duty to accommodate.

Her current community activities include acting as the Vice-Chairperson of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, serving on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Women's Health Network, and serving on the Council of the Manitoba Bar Association.

Michael J. Prince

Michael J. Prince

Professor Michael J. Prince holds the Lansdowne Chair in Social Policy at the University of Victoria in the Faculty of Human and Social Development. He is the inaugural occupant of this position, which he has held since 1987. Before then, Prince was for nine years a faculty member at Carleton University in the School of Public Administration.

Professor Prince is a frequent advisor to Canadian government agencies, parliamentary committees and community organizations on matters of strategic thinking, policy reform and political analysis. Prince is also a Board member of the BC Association for Community Living.

Recent publications include "Canadian Disability Policy: Still a Hit-and-Miss Affair," Canadian Journal of Sociology, 29 (1), 2004, pp. 59-82; and, Pride and Prejudice: The Ambivalence of Canadian Attitudes toward Disability and Inclusion, Toronto: Roeher Institute, 2006.

Response to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba Statement on Withholding and Withdrawing of Treatment

Commentary by Dean Richert and Rhonda Wiebe

(Dean Richert is a member of CCD's Human Rights Committee and Rhonda Wiebe is a researcher with the Ethics theme of the VP Net Research Project.)

The ethical and legal issues surrounding the withdrawal or withholding of life sustaining treatment are formulated within the rights language of autonomy, dignity, and sanctity of life. But they are also reflections of a spectrum of values, including those of the society in which they are made and those of the individual affected by the withholding or loss of treatment.

The so-called "futility" arguments, those being the futility of treatment or the futility of life, only serve to complicate the issue. Even if one were to suspend concerns about such issues as: the competency of the patient in terms of informed consent or refusal; the family's wishes; the futility or non-futility of treatment; and any biases or agenda of the doctor or the patient about living with, for example, a disability; futility assessments still lead to the inevitable conclusion that it is the doctor and the doctor alone that can assess the quality of life of a patient. The patient is forced to accept any consequences that come as a result of this assessment.

This is reflected in the latest Statement, Number 1602, published by the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons, regarding the withholding or withdrawing of life sustaining treatment as follows:

The Manitoba Courts have recognized that physicians have the authority to make medical decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a patient without the consent of the patient or the patient's family.

The physician's assessment to withhold or withdraw such treatment, according to the College, is based on whether the patient is capable of reaching the Minimum Goal of Life Sustaining Treatment, a term defined by the College as:

The maintenance of or recovery to a level of cerebral function that enables the patient to:

  • achieve awareness of self; and
  • achieve awareness of environment; and
  • experience his/her own existence.

For pediatric patients, the potential for neurological development must be factored into the assessment.

The College also states that:

The physician's primary goal of medical treatment is to restore or maintain the patient's health as much as possible in a manner that maximizes benefit, minimizes harm and recognizes the objectives of the patient.

The stated minimum goal of treatment is problematic because the assessment of the individual is in itself not medical but philosophical in nature. It is inter-subjective. In other words, asking what constitutes "self awareness" cannot be answered by a clinical measurement. However, the College states that the final determination of what constitutes self-awareness may be left in the hands of a physician who has little or no training in the broader philosophical ethics inherent in these matters. It is our contention that these decisions must rest in the purview of the individual, the citizens of Canada, and our understanding of human rights and Charterprinciples.

Furthermore, the process that defines the criteria for "Minimum Goal of Life Sustaining Treatment" seems suspect. Who decided and how was it decided that these conjunctive criteria should be used to decide whether a physician can withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment? This is an assessment of the quality of life of the individual and not simply an evaluation of what the treatment can or cannot achieve for a patient. Further lack of clarity is evident in the term "realistically achievable." What does that mean? The College has not defined it in the Statement.

The College outlines a remedy for resolving conflicts pertaining to treatment decisions that involves obtaining the opinion of a second physician. What the College doesn't provide is any guidelines as to the area of practice that should be held by the consulting physician. A frightening prospect is one in which the Minimum Goal of Life Sustaining Treatment is not realistically achievable in the assessment of the first physician, so he/she consults a physician in a field that has no expertise in the diagnostic or treatment in question. There would seem to be a natural reliance, in such a scenario, to defer to the original decision of the first physician.

The College's Statement outlines a second scenario describing a situation where there is no consensus—the minimum goal is not achievable, the physician concludes that life-sustaining treatment should be withheld or withdrawn, and the patient/proxy/representative does not agree with this decision and demands life sustaining treatment. Note that in this circumstance the College does not require a minimum time for advanced notice to the patient/proxy/ representative regarding when the withdrawal or withholding of treatment will occur. The obligation on the part of the physician is only to state the location, date and time that the treatment will be withheld or withdrawn.

The College Statement is as follows:

When the consultation supports the conclusion that the minimum goal is not realistically achievable, or it is not possible to consult with another physician, the physician who sought the consultation is not obligated to continue to try to reach consensus before withholding or withdrawing treatment, but must first advise the patient/proxy/representative:

a. that the consultation supports that physician's assessment that the minimum goal is not realistically achievable, or that it was not possible to consult with another physician and attempt to address any remaining concerns; and

b. of the specified location, date and time at which treatment will be withhold or withdrawn.

This seems a blatant violation of: the individual's right to due process; the right to life and security of the person; the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual treatment; and the right to equality of treatment. Furthermore, it runs afoul of the spirit of recent cases in Canada that have dealt with the same issue of withdrawal and withholding of life-sustaining treatment.

The College indicates in their Statement that "Manitoba Courts have recognized that physicians have the authority to make medical decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a patient without the consent of the patient or the patient's family," and they rely on the case of Sawatzky v. Riverview Health Centre Inc., [1998] M.J. No. 506, to confirm this. However, a re-examination of this case does not necessarily lead us to the inferences the College has made. For example, at paragraphs 4 and 5 of Sawatzky v. Riverview Health Centre Inc., Justice Beard states the following when addressing the Court's process of deciding whether or not to grant an injunction:

4. The issues, as I see them, are as follows:

(1) in what factual circumstances can a doctor or health care facility issue a "do not resuscitate" order;

(2) do those factual circumstances apply in this case;

(3) can a doctor or health care facility legally issue a "do not resuscitate" order if the patient or the person entitled to consent to health care treatment for the patient refuses to consent to that order?

5. The first and third issues are clearly of general interest and, I would suggest, of great concern to the public. They raise fundamental questions relating to a patient's right to medical treatment and a doctor's obligation to provide that treatment. Those questions raise serious legal, moral, ethical, medical and practical issues on which there is unlikely to ever be complete agreement.

Justice Beard then provides an analysis of the factors for pronouncing an injunction as they relate to the facts of the case. At paragraphs 28 and 29 she indicates changes in the law that have bearing because the case law has not dealt with those rights protected by the Charter in the context of the Sawatzky case. This would still seem to be the current state of the case law.

At paragraph 33, Justice Beard notes the distinctions between the case before her and the precedent cases provided her, one being Re: Child and Family Services of Central Manitoba v. Lavalee, a case referred to in the College's Statement as a precedent for withholding and withdrawing treatment. Justice Beard states that the Sawatzky case and the Lavalee case are in fact not the same, because the latter raises issues not considered in the former. She also indicates that in none of the precedent cases was there a dispute between the parties as to the medical condition of the patient.

Justice Beard, at paragraphs 38 and 39, states as follows:

38 While courts and judges do not have any expertise in making medical decisions, they do have expertise in resolving factual disputes and in making legal decisions. In the case of non-consensual medical decisions, be they decisions to provide, withdraw or refuse care or treatment, there is a role for the courts to play in making factual determinations and advising of the legality or illegality of disputed decisions before the patient is dead. The very suggestion that there is the option of a claim in negligence raises the fact that doctors can and, on occasion, do make mistakes. Further, many of the decisions that they make are qualitative and there is much room for individual disagreement on the correctness of the decision. Such findings would surely guide the doctor as she/he makes these decisions.

39 There is also a public interest aspect involved in some of these issues which needs to be recognized including, as was stated by Lord Keith in the Airedale NHS Trust case, the protection of the patients, the reassurance of the patients' families and the reassurance of the public. At the end of the day, it is the doctors who will have to make the medical decisions, but they will do so knowing the facts and the likely legal outcome of those decision. As is often said, justice must not only be done but be seen to be done. This is appropriate whether speaking of justice in the court room or justice in terms of medical care.

This is a clear indication from the Courts that the public has an interest in disputes between parties, and that those interests include the protection of patients, and the re-assurance of both patients' families and the broader public. According to Justice Beard's understanding, many of the decisions related to medical treatment are qualitative in nature, and there is much room for individual agreement and disagreement on the correctness of the decision.

In C. (L.I.), Re, 2006 CarswellAlta 206, a case from the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench (decided February 13, 2006), the basic facts of the case are stated as follows:

Dependent adult had been spastic quadriplegic all her life, had longstanding brain injury, and had resided at long-term care facility since 1954. Public guardian had been her guardian since 1980. In 2004 dependent adult suffered cardiac arrest and three doctors concluded that she would remain in permanent vegetative state, which would ultimately lead to her death by infectious complications. Doctors recommended that endotracheal tube be removed and that in event of another cardiac arrest, no further life-sustaining treatment be undertaken. Public guardian brought application for advice and directions as to whether it had legal authority, pursuant to guardianship order under Dependent Adults Act to consent to cessation of medical treatment that could ultimately result in death of dependent adult. Act is broad enough to support legal authority of public guardian to consent to withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment in appropriate circumstances.

Justice Acton states, at paragraph 33:

At first glance, one might wonder whether the withdrawal of life sustaining care can ever be in a dependent adult's best interests. I am persuaded, however, by the reasoning of Lord Goff in Airedale NHS Trust v. Bland, who stated: "…the question is not whether it is in the best interests of the patient that he should die. The question is whether it is in the best interests of the patient that his life should be prolonged by this continuance of this form of medical treatment or care" (at p.869).

The Justice also says at paragraph 35:

This decision is not intended to restrict, in any way, the Public Guardian's ability to seek advice and directions from the Court. Indeed, I believe that in certain circumstances, it may be prudent to seek Court approval before proceeding, including cases where the dependent adult's family does not agree or where there are differing medical opinions. In those cases, Court approval would, in my view, address the issues raised by Lord Keith in Airedale NHS Trust v. Bland, protecting the doctors and the Public Guardian while at the same time giving all interested persons an opportunity to be heard.

It seems prudent and reasonable to allow a minimum amount of time in order to obtain court approval in cases where consensus cannot be reached. However, the College states that in certain circumstances physicians are not obligated to provide even a minimum amount of notice to the patient or the patient's family prior to withdrawing or withholding treatment. This rush to action brings a chill to the level of trust that could be nurtured within a doctor–patient relationship.

The most recent Manitoba case dealing with issues of withdrawing and withholding life sustaining treatment is Golubchuk v. Salvation Army Grace General Hospital et al., 2008 MBQB 49. In Golubchuk, at paragraph 4, Justice Schulman states the following as facts agreed to between both parties:

"the plaintiff is very ill. …hooked up to a ventilator … and fed through a tube that has been surgically inserted into his stomach. His brain is functioning, although the extent to which it is functioning is in dispute."

At paragraph 7 and following, Justice Schulman articulates the facts that are in dispute. At paragraph 9 he quoted the plaintiffs' neurologist:

"There is no evidence whatsoever that he is brain dead, close to brain dead, or dying, from a neurological point of view."

The defendants' neurologist disputed, saying Samuel Golobchuk was "probably best classified as being in a minimally responsive state, barely above the vegetative state".

The issue before Justice Schulman was whether or not the injunction in which the defendants were "restrained from removing Samuel Golobchuk from life support care, ventilation, tube feeding, and medication…." (Paragraph 1) granted to the plaintiffs on November 30, 2007 should continue. It is important to note two arguments put forth by the defendants at paragraph 11. Firstly, the defendants argued that the withdrawal of medical treatment was in the best interests of Mr. Golubchuk. Secondly, the defendants argued that "… in making 'end-of-life' decisions, regard should be given to the dignity, quality of life and levels of pain being suffered by the patient"… At paragraph 13 Justice Schulman refers to the decision of Justice Beard, at paragraph 38 in Sawatzky, as an example of the appropriate role for the court. He suggests further to 'leave the door open' for an even wider role for the court in such matters.

Justice Schulman is critical of those who, in the context of a critically ill patient, try to categorize acts as one of commission or omission and therefore are a matter of either requiring consent or not requiring consent. He states at paragraph 24 that this "has lead courts to perform mental gymnastics to fit whatever is being proposed into one category or the other". Furthermore, at paragraph 25 he says:

Contrary to the assertion of the defendants, it is not settled law that, in the event of disagreement between a physician and his patient as to withdrawal of life supports, the physician has the final say.

Schulman distinguishes the Lavalee case from the Golubchuk case by asking whether withholding and withdrawal of treatment should be treated the same; and whether the plaintiff has a right to continuation of the treatment either under the common law or under the Charter. He left these questions wide open.

It is interesting to note that a distinguishing feature between the two cases is that Lavalee dealt with a Do Not Resuscitate Order, the withholding of life sustaining treatment, and Golubchuk dealt with the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, an act of commission. As a result, we might consider at the very least that the portion of the College's Statement which deals with the withdrawal of treatment may be a misunderstanding and misapplication of the law.

In Ontario, where consent to treatment is needed, the Health Care Consent Act governs such circumstances. The Province of Ontario established what is known as a Consent and Capacity Board under this Act. One of the charges of this tribunal is to deal with issues of withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment for persons without the capacity to make these decisions for themselves. In the 2004 appeal decision of the Queen's Bench, Scardoni v. Hawryluck, 2004 CarswellOnt 424, Justice Cullity left the question as to whether consent is necessary for the withdrawal or withholding of treatment open.

In Scardoni, at paragraph 44, when dealing with section 10(1)(b) of the Act, Justice Cullity found that the Board did have jurisdiction to deal with the withholding and withdrawing of treatment but said:

In the circumstances, I intend … to leave the choice between competing alternatives to be dealt with if and when a case ever arises in which a correct interpretation of the section is directly in issue.

In this case, consent was required.

Section 21 of the Act sets out the principles that govern a substitute decision maker's decision to give or refuse consent as follows: if the substitute decision maker knows the wishes of the person which are applicable to the circumstances, the substitute decision maker shall give or refuse consent pursuant to that wish. If the wish is not known or the wish is not applicable, for whatever reason, the substitute decision maker shall act in the person's best interests. These interests, as outlined in Section 21(2), "shall" include values and beliefs, wishes expressed, and further factors that focus on the "well-being" of the individual.

In the Scardoni case, the physician was of the opinion that the substitute decision makers had not complied with section 21. Therefore the physician applied to the Consent and Capacity Board to determine whether this was the case. The Board found non-compliance and directed the substitute decision makers to withdraw the life sustaining support. The substitute decision makers appealed the Board's decision to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Ultimately the Court set aside the Board's decision. Of note in this decision is the statutory interpretation of "well-being" in section 21(2) of the Act. At paragraphs 45-49, Justice Cullity confirms the interpretation to include considerations such as a person's dignity, levels of pain, and quality of life. It is a very broad concept. Furthermore, when considering the wishes of the person under Section 21(2) Justice Cullity states the following at paragraph 57:

Section 21(2)(a) and (b)… represent the legislative acceptance of the value to be attributed to a patient's individual autonomy and right to medical self-determination … Although the Court of Appeal [in Fleming] was considering the administration of treatment—and not its withdrawal, withholding or discontinuance—I do not believe the Act distinguishes decisions on these matters as far as the principles governing substitute decision-maker's consent, or refusal, to treatment are concerned.

At Paragraph 60, Justice Cullity states that s. 21(2)(c):

… is concerned with the consequences of giving, or withholding, treatment on the patient's health and well-being. Although the evidence of health practitioners that reflects their expertise will inevitably be essential, the weighing of benefits and burdens under the section cannot be achieved scientifically. The imponderables involved—and the difficulty of the exercise—are increased significantly when the qualitatively different considerations referred to in s. 21(2)(a) and (b) are added to the scales.

One of the ways in which the Courts can deal with the issue of withholding or withdrawing life sustaining treatment is by applying the "best interest" test. This was implied in the case of C. (L.I.), Re. The question was, is it in the best interests of the patient to continue treatment?

In England, the case of K (a minor) [2006] EWHC 1007 (Fam), decided in 2006, had at its focus a disabled infant. The matter was one of deciding whether to withdraw or withhold treatment of this young child. Sir Mark Potter stated the following at paragraphs 43 and 44 when talking generally about the best interests of a patient:

43. As stated by Thorpe LJ in Re S (Adult Patient: Sterilization) [2001] Fam 15 at 30E:

"In deciding what is best for the disabled patient the judge must have regard to the patient's welfare as the paramount consideration. That embraces issues far wider than the medical. Indeed it would be undesirable and probably impossible to set bounds to what is relevant to a welfare determination."

44. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P made clear in the same case at p.28 that the principle of the "best interests" of the patient as applied by the Court extends beyond the consideration governing the propriety and advisability of medical treatment developed in the Bolam Case [1957] 1 WLR 582 and "The Judicial decision will incorporate broader ethical, social, moral and welfare considerations."

As stated by Hedley J in Portsmouth NHS Trust v Wyatt [2005}]1FLR 21 at para [23]:

"Best interests must be given a generous interpretation. As Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P said in Re A (Male Sterilisation) [2001] 1 FLR 549 at 555:

…best interests encompass medical, emotional and all other welfare issues.
…The infinite variety of the human condition never ceases to surprise and it is that fact that defeats any attempt to be more precise in the definition of best interest."

When we as a society discuss the withholding or withdrawing of treatment, these wider concerns regarding the best interests of the patient must be considered. As stated above, this "…principle of the 'best interests' of the patient as applied by the Court extends beyond the considerations governing the propriety and advisability of medical treatment…" This wider principle is implied by the College's Statement on page one in that the "physician must use their best clinical and ethical judgment…"

In the English case of W Healthcare NHS v KH [2005] 1 WLR 834 (C.A.), the Court of Appeal dealt with an adult with severe Multiple Sclerosis who lacked capacity and whose quality of life was called into question. The adult was fed by way of a percutaneous-gastronomy tube. She was admitted to hospital after her feeding tube fell out. The hospital felt that it was in her best interests to re-insert a feeding tube, but her family did not want the tube re-inserted. The judgment of the Court found that the best interest of the patient lay with the re-insertion of the tube. This decision was appealed. The appeal judge, Brooke LJ, stated at paragraph [29]:

"The judge, having rightly put on one side the question of whether there was a legally binding advance directive, looked, on the one hand, at the consequences of withdrawing nutrition and the effect this would have and, on the other hand, at the continuance of a life in which there is some feeling of pain, some sensation and some slight ability to answer questions. He came to the conclusion that it was in the best interests of the patient to accede to the unanimous wish of those who are responsible for her treatment.

As I have said, the Official Solicitor supports this application. These cases are always agonizingly difficult…but judges have to apply the law as they find it. English law, as it stands at present, places a very heavy burden on those who are advocating a course which would lead inevitably to a cessation of a human life. In my judgment, it is impossible for this Court to interfere with the judge's judgment."

"Best interests" ought to be the governing principle upon which decisions about life sustaining treatment are made. Clearly it is difficult to determine what constitutes a person's best interests, but any judgments regarding this matter demand a democratization and accountability within the decision making process. The assessment of the quality of life that an individual has or might have is not solely within the purview of the medical model. The power to assess the quality of someone else's life should not remain in the hands of one individual but must rest with all interested parties. Quality of life is a social construction, and lest we forget, historically it has been used as an argument to judge the value of human lives in many minority and disadvantaged groups. It follows then that any process to determine quality of life demands a resolution mechanism that is accountable to all involved.

It is deeply disturbing that the College can provide such a Statement and have it binding on physicians. This can only lead to animosity and irreparable breaches of trust between patients, their health care proxies, and the physicians who are charged with providing their care. As Justice Beard stated in the Sawatzky case at paragraph 62, the issues surrounding the placement of a Do Not Resuscitate Order:

"Raise serious and far-reaching legal and ethical questions which need the widest airing following thoughtful arguments. The decisions are no less than life and death matters."

The issues related to the Statement of the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons position regarding the withholding and withdrawing life sustaining treatment demand at least the same airing.

CCD Member Group Reports

British Columbia Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD)

Representation Agreements

BCCPD has been part of a community coalition fighting for Representation Agreements over the last decade. On October 22, 2007, the BC government passed Bill 29, the Adult Guardianship and Planning Statutes Amendment Act which brings stability and support to Representation Agreements after years of uncertainty. In the words of the Attorney General who introduced the Bill: Bill 29 will amend the Representation Agreement Act to make representation agreements more accessible. They will continue to be the only instrument in British Columbia under which adults can appoint someone else — that is, a representative — to make health care and personal care decisions on their own behalf. Representation agreements will be easier and less costly to make. Unnecessary execution requirements, such as the need to consult with a lawyer, will be eliminated.

A significant change for Representation Agreements will be the removal of the requirement to consult a lawyer for Agreements covering all health and personal care matters, including the refusal of life support. The changes brought about by Bill 29 will come into effect over the next year.

Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD)

Not-for-Profits Exempt from Lobbyists Act

On November 14, 2007, the government of Alberta announced its commitment to exempt public-service, not-for-profit organizations from Bill 1: Lobbyist Act. This is great news for organizations like ACCD because the original version of the Lobbyist Act had serious implications for the not-for-profit sector and would have severely limited our ability to communicate with government officials.

Bob Wyatt, executive director of the Muttart Foundation, worked hard to bring together the voice of the not-for-profit and volunteer sectors in challenging the original Bill. In a letter sent to MLAs in early November, the Muttart Foundation clarified some of the problems posed by the bill. The letter argued that the price that not-for profits were being asked to pay was "too high . . . particularly when no one has suggested that there has ever been improper lobbying behavior by public-service not-for-profit organizations." The concerns outlined in the letter included:

  • The bill will take away time from service to Albertans.
  • It will create problems in recruiting and retaining directors who work for the province or for a prescribed entity.
  • It will create a chill in communications between government and people in the voluntary sector who are experts in their fields.
  • It will place unnecessary and problematic constraints on not-for-profit organizations that want to communicate with a public office holder.

In an email message applauding the amendment to the Lobbyist Act, Wyatt states, "For all charities, and for the vast majority of not-for-profit organizations in Alberta, this afternoon's announcement is great news indeed!" ACCD President Margot Brunner-Campbell agreed, saying, "Congratulations to Minister David Hancock for listening to us when we brought forward issues about Bill 1 as originally presented. The amendment he has proposed is good news for Alberta's non-profit organizations!"

ADF Recommends Annual Increase to AISH

On January 21, 2008, the Alberta Disabilities Forum (ADF) Low Income working group addressed the provincial Cabinet Policy Committee in an attempt to encourage the government to consider annual increments to the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program benefits. The Policy Committee is responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on policies, programs, and legislation and for hearing public and private submissions pertaining to a variety of issues, including disability issues.

Low Income committee member, Connie Nelson, felt cautiously optimistic after the meeting. She said, "Working group members gave a succinct, well planned presentation, and I felt the policy committee listened carefully and thoughtfully to our message. Minister Melchin commented on the amount of work ADF accomplishes with its limited resources."

ADF Provincial Coordinator, Melita Avdagovska, began the presentation with an introduction to ADF's mandate and to the need for annual increments to the AISH benefit. Edward Salé talked about annual increases in housing costs, Brian Laird addressed the issue of transportation and medical costs, and Paula Murphy spoke about the costs of food and clothing. After the presentation, ACCD's Executive Director, Bev Matthiessen urged the committee to act on the following three recommendations:

  1. To recognize, in principle, the critical importance of an annual increase in the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped benefit rate, including the modified AISH benefit rate.
  2. To increase the AISH benefit rate annually, by an increment of no less than the increase in the cost of living.
  3. To establish a permanent body of equal representation from stakeholders such as elected officials, government representatives, and AISH recipients. This body will conduct annual (rather than bi-annual) income support amount reviews and establish a process for annual adjustment of the AISH benefit.

ACCD, along with ADF, looks forward to hearing back form the Cabinet Policy Committee, and we are hopeful that our recommendations will be taken to heart.

City of Canmore Seeks Accessibility Advice

five people in front of civic center

Visit of Canmore's Civic Centre

ACCD was pleased to be invited to the beautiful town of Canmore in 2007 to discuss accessibility issues at two venues: the Canmore Civic Centre and the Canmore Recreation Centre. ACCD has been conducting accessibility assessments for over a decade now, but these assessments usually focus on offices, retail outlets, and other businesses. While the Canmore Civic Centre has a similar profile to a public office, this was our first assessment of a recreation-style facility. In order to prepare for the Canmore visit and to learn more about accessible recreation centers, we visited a number of facilities including:

  • A.C.T. Aquatic and Recreation Centre in Edmonton (This facility was built with accessibility for people with disabilities specifically in mind.)
  • Fountain Park Recreation Centre in St. Albert
  • Collicutt Centre in Red Deer

Our accessibility audit of Canmore's Civic Centre, built in 2004, and the Recreation Centre, built in 1984 (arena) and 1987 (pool), revealed the differences in accessibility between older and newer structures. We found that the Civic Centre was very accessible, but the arena and pool were not as accessible.

When we met with our hosts to discuss our findings, they were eager to find out about opportunities for building accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities into Canmore's town planning. We were able to refer them to other jurisdictions, both big (Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer) and small (Medicine Hat, Wainwright) that have taken steps to include persons with disabilities in town planning.

ACCD conducts approximately 25 accessibility audits each year.

Saskatchewan Voice of People with Disabilities

The Voice continues to work with the Disability Income Support Committee (DISC), towards people with disabilities in the Province of Saskatchewan not having to rely on Social Assistance as an income program. The latest statistics are that approximately 14,000 people are on long-term social assistance. Of that figure, 77% of them are people with disabilities, or approximately 10,000 people.

As we look towards our vision of developing a distinct income system, one thing is clear—no one can create a better system alone. DISC members believe strongly that the only way to move forward is as one voice and in a collaborative, full partnership with the Government of Saskatchewan and the Social Services Ministry. We believe that a program designed without the collaboration of community experts will lack credibility and be unsatisfactory in meeting the income support needs of people with disabilities.

During the election, the Disability Income Support Committee and Provincial Interagency Network on Disability did a first in Saskatchewan. A call was put out to all of the organizations involved for dollars towards a media campaign. We carried on an extensive media campaign on an Income program. We expect to do this again, as we see that the effectiveness of media advertising is so much greater as a whole. As we all know, Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) cannot afford to advertise extensively on their own, but as a collaborative effort on agreed upon issues, this is very effective.

In November, the province held an election and elected a new government. In a meeting with the new Minister responsible for Social Services, Donna Harpauer says she has two priorities, the first is children and the second is disability. The disability community welcomes that commitment. In May, the Ministry of Social Services will be conducting regional summit meetings for Community Based Organizations. The Minister recognizes that this will not be a one-time meeting, but will be a start.

We all know this is a learning curve for the new government, so, we will be waiting for the start of the legislature in March to get our first idea of how this new government will work. So, far, it sounds very hopeful.

PEI Council of the Disabled

Review of PEI's Disability Services

Doug Currie and Kathy Jones

PEI Social Services and Seniors Minister Doug Currie [right] announcing the appointment of the Disability Services Review Committee. Kathy Jones, Director of Social Programs is at left.

PEI's new[ish] provincial government made good on one of its election promises in December by appointing a Disability Services Review Committee. The Committee is mandated to look at the Disability Support Program and all other disability services offered by the provincial government. Among those appointed to the Committee was the Council's Executive Director, Barry Schmidl. He and Brigit Cairns of the PEI Association for Community Living were appointed Co-Chairs by the Committee.

The Committee will hold public consultations across the province in February and March and will also seek written submissions from anyone with an interest or concern on disability services in PEI. Anyone with a disability, or from the general public, will be able to speak at a consultation or submit something in writing. The Committee will submit a report to the provincial government that includes the views of those who participated verbally or in writing. On top of seeking input from Islanders, the review is also intended to include research into disability services and programs across Canada and around the world. The results of the research will be part of a report and recommendations to Government on what should be done with disability services in PEI. The review process should take about six months.

While not committing to any dollar amounts, PEI Social Services and Seniors Minister Doug Currie did say that the government was willing to commit to more money for disability services.

Council Launches Interactive Online Work Abilities Program and Resource Centre

Yvonne Carter

Work Abilities Facilitator Yvonne Carter leading people at the Open House on a tour of the Work Abilities Program online.

On December 3, 2007, as part of the International Day of People with Disabilities, the Work Abilities Program of the PEI Council of the Disabled launched a new addition to the Council's services—the Work Abilities Program and Resource Centre interactive online component located on the Council's web site.

visitors at open house

Visitors participate in an online tour of the Work Abilities program.

A link to the new web service is located on the Council's home page for easy access by participants, employment specialists, and other disability service providers. The online service provides a visual means for potential participants to become familiar and explore what the Work Abilities Program is all about before ever coming to the Council to access services. It also offers career development aids, a calendar for upcoming workshops, and workshop descriptions. To view the new addition to the Council's web site, including a virtual tour of the resource centre, go to www.peicod.pe.ca and click on the Work Abilities Program and Resource Centre link.

Affordable, Accessible Housing Campaign

The Council's "Affordable Homes, Accessible Homes" campaign is continuing:

  • Our Fall Policy Conference, entitled "Let's Talk" focussed on housing, disability supports and accessibility. Participants from across the province were informed about these issues and also received training on how to effectively speak with their MLAs. One of the Island's MPs, Shawn Murphy and a Summerside City Councillor attended the entire day.
  • The Conference is intended as a lead in to MLA Briefing Days which are planned for mid-April. These will see people with disabilities from each provincial riding meet with their MLA to brief them on housing, disability supports and accessibility issues, and how they affect their constituents. The two-day effort is similar to a successful one done in 2001 by the Council and is intended to inform MLAs about primary provincial-level disability issues. This is especially important as the 2007 provincial election resulted in 20 out of the 27 MLAs being new, all of whom are on the Liberal government side of the Legislature.
  • The Council published its annual Disabilities Forum general-public oriented tabloid in December. The 2007 version was themed "A Day in the Life" and featured stories on housing, accessibility and disability supports and how they directly affect real people with disabilities.

Around the Block

The Council's newest "Around the Block" project began in January. Ten "youth at risk" 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. This is the seventh theatre project in seven years.

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)

AEBC Active In Ontario Anti-Poverty Work

Mike Yale and John Rae participated in "Speaking Out on ODSP," (Ontario disability support program), November 15-16, the latest action by the ODSP Action Coalition. The Coalition consists of social justice advocates, legal clinic staff working in the antipoverty field, and recipients of disability benefits.

The November conference was specifically aimed at recipients who have been traditionally passive and intimidated. Workshops and plenary sessions were aimed at teaching individuals to speak up, learn how to effectively tell their own stories in their own communities across Ontario, and learn how to utilize the various local media.

The combined work of various anti-poverty groups in Ontario has succeeded to the extent that the recently elected majority Liberal government in Ontario has finally agreed to develop a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy. We now are trying to influence the content of such a new and critical strategy.

The major demands of the Coalition and its allies relate to: an immediate and meaningful increase to ODSP and Welfare rates; future benefit rates linked to the cost of living or inflation rate; those fighting to increase the minimum wage; others working on fixing the child benefit credit system, others involved in promoting more affordable housing, and many others. I am presently serving as vice-chair of the Media and Lobbying Committee, which has spent the last year working on the election campaign.

AEBC Participates in Important Initiative on Library Access

On October 2, 2007, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) announced the Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA), a $3 million, three-year initiative, designed to improve access to information and to develop a strategy that will support equitable library service for Canadians with print disabilities. To launch this initiative, LAC invited stakeholders representing Canadians with print disabilities, the library, publishing and multiple format production communities for a "kick-off" consultation. The objectives of this first consultation were:

  • - To develop a shared understanding of the Initiative for Equitable Library Access and of equitable library service.
  • - To consult stakeholders on how best to coordinate the collaborative effort to get there and the next steps to deliver on this common understanding.

AEBC President Robin East was one of eleven participants. He committed AEBC to full participation throughout the project's three years, and AEBC hopes to hold a full consultation with its members at its AGM in Toronto in May, 2008.

Robin made a distinction between "Rights Holders" and "Stakeholders" at this meeting. We, who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted consumers are Rights Holders. We do hold the right as every citizen does to have full access to public libraries and we should not have to rely on charities to deliver such a public service. Stakeholders are other interested parties that have an interest in the outcome, e.g.: Service organizations and Publishers. However, our rights do come first and as such our voice must have more impact on the outcome.

AEBC's National Secretary Presents at International Conference on Walking

Marcia Cummings presented a paper on the barriers to walking for blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted pedestrians at the eighth annual Walk21 Conference, "Putting Pedestrians First", held from October 1 to 4 in Toronto. The conference featured plenary sessions, walkshops and workshops on everything to do with the pedestrian way of life. The keynote speaker was David Suzuki, who spoke about the serious issues facing our planet, and how we are all one organism, each of us affecting everyone else indirectly by what we do and how we live. To read Marcia's paper, entitled "A Walk on the Wild Side", go to http://www.blindcanadians.ca/press_releases//index.php?BriefID=44.

DAWN CANADA DisAbled Women's Network Canada
RAFH CANADA Réseau d'Action des Femmes Handicapées du Canada

A Message for Canadians

Sixty-eight years ago, a couple made a decision to seek the permission of their government, who granted it, to put their severely disabled child to death:

"In 1938, a father named of Knauer had personally written to Hitler requesting that his child, born blind, deaf, deformed, and mentally disabled, be granted a "mercy death," or euthanasia.[2] Hitler had always maintained a passionate interest in direct medical killing himself, and after consulting his personal physician Dr. Karl Brandt, agreed to allow the child a "merciful death." [3] (Jonkczack, 2005)

From this act of "mercy", began Aktion T-4, a methodical series of killings of the disabled that preceded the Holocaust, and during which the genocidal methods were perfected. From a single act of "mercy", the deaths of over 10,000,000 people.

Robert Latimer was ultimately sentenced to a mandatory sentence of 10 years for second-degree murder and the Parole Board wisely denied him day parole because he did not seem to demonstrate an understanding of the gravity of his actions.

Contrast the Latimers actions with Lorenzo Odone's parents, Augusto and Michaela Odone, who researched every cure and refused to give up on their son who also suffered a severe neurological illness- adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). His parents developed an oil that would come to benefit many other children with the illness even though their son, while improved, remains profoundly disabled, but alive, at age 29.

So, 68 years later, what have we learned from the lessons of Aktion T-4? It would seem far less than one might think. The messages of inferiority of the disabled and the ill have come full circle and with even more diabolic consequences. There is no longer any need to round up the disabled and kill or sterilize them, because people are electing to do that for themselves in the name of individual rights. Choosing death, assisted suicide, makes it very easy and we become our own society's exterminators, neatly under the guise of free choice.

Cleanly this absolves our society of any responsibility in alleviating the discrimination, poverty or pain that may be involved with disability and serious illness that contribute to people to feeling death is their only recourse. The more research you do in the area of Aktion T-4, the more you will realize every ugly thing you may ever have thought about yourself as a person with a disability came from that place. In order to dispel that evil, we must resolve to affirm the worth of all life and most especially the worth inherent in our own though different humanity.

We owe it to the millions of people who died in the Shoah to take up their cry "Never Again!" Let us, as communities of people with disability, respect our lives and the freedoms we have been given, use our freedoms and choices wisely. We call upon each of you to rise to meet the challenges we are facing with strength, dignity and love. Please remember your lives have meaning and worth, every single one of you. Please hold the community around you accountable to respect that life as well.

Carmela Hutchison, President
DAWN Canada

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)

NEADS' Job Search Strategies Forums Project

By Jennifer Dillon

(Jennifer Dillon is a Consultant working for NEADS on the Job Search Strategies Forums Project.)

Have you heard of the Job Search Strategies Forums Project? The transition from school to work is vitally important for Canadian postsecondary students with disabilities. The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) is providing opportunities to bring together employers, job seekers with disabilities and service providers. The Job Search Strategies project began in August 2005 and will run until March 2009. The project provides forums throughout Canada with the purpose of offering practical job search techniques that can help postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities to move from academic success to challenging and rewarding careers. The project is made possible through the support of BMO Capital Markets, Equity Through Education Program.

Over a period of four academic years, sixteen forums will be held throughout Canada. Each forum is an interactive day with guest speakers, round table discussions, exhibitors and resume consultations. The forums bring together employers, job seekers and service providers to participate in an exciting day of learning and networking. Examples of topics include: conducting an effective job search, preparing for an interview, job accommodations, considerations for disclosing a disability, promoting yourself and first-hand employment experiences. Each forum has guest speakers from the following perspectives: employers, career counselors, employees with disabilities and students with disabilities.

The forums have representation from a variety of sectors such as: technology, sciences, media, social work, finance, law, manufacturing, retail, health care, tourism, business and power generation. The exhibit areas at the forums provide excellent opportunities to network with employers and local employment agencies. We also offer resume consultations where students and graduates can obtain feedback and tips for their resumes.

The forums have a cross-disability focus and accommodations are arranged for participants who request them in advance. Travel and hotel subsidies are available to help make it possible for some students living outside the local area to attend.

The upcoming events for 2008 are Vancouver on February 2, Fredericton on March 28, Saskatoon in October 2008 and Ottawa on November 15, 2008. Forums have already been held in: Toronto, Edmonton, Victoria, Montreal, Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg, St John s, Thunder Bay and London. In the winter of 2009 the two final forums will be held, one in Quebec City and one in a location to be determined.

The evaluations from the forums have indicated that participants value the experiences and learning opportunities provided at the forums. Employers and professionals who have participated have expressed that the Job Search Strategies forums are beneficial for them as well. Please check out the www.neads.ca website for reports on events that have been held to date and more information about the upcoming Job Search Strategies forum in your area.

NEADS receives funding for science and technology project

Ottawa—January 29, 2008: The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) is proud to announce a new two-year initiative, developed through a funding partnership with the Imperial Oil Foundation. "Enhancing Opportunities for Post-Secondary Students and Graduates with Disabilities in Science and Technology Related Fields" will launch in April, 2008 and conclude in March, 2010. NEADS will receive $120,000 from the Foundation for the project.

While research has been conducted on factors affecting the inclusion of the general student population in science and technology-related programs, very little work has been done to highlight the issues and challenges faced by students and employees with disabilities within this sector. Furthermore, the identification of role models or success stories in science and technology is not encouraged—every student and educator, or every employer and employee, facing these issues may well believe that they are the first, ever, to do so.

NEADS is in a unique position to remove these barriers, and address issues specific to persons with disabilities in science and technology, by leveraging our extensive network of college and university service providers, and students and recent graduates with disabilities. It is not our goal to "re-invent the wheel" and re-tread research that has already been conducted. Instead, with a specific focus on students and employees with disabilities in the science and technology sector, and with the establishment of partnerships—including organizations who are already conducting science and technology outreach—we hope to contribute in a novel and unique way to the inclusion of students with disabilities in science and technology-related programs and employment.

There are four aspects to the project:

  • The development of a guidebook "Promoting Careers in Canada's Science and Technology Sectors to Students and Recent Graduates with Disabilities: Success Stories, Best Practices and Resources";
  • The hosting of national conference workshop on "Education and Employment in Science and Technology for People with Disabilities" at the 2008 NEADS National Conference in Ottawa;
  • Research and development of the concept of national science and technology fair for students with disabilities as an outreach tool to encourage participation and visibility of students with disabilities in the science and technology sector;
  • The establishment of a network of stakeholders and existing organizations to examine the research findings in the guidebook and develop strategies for communication, dissemination and implementation of strategies to counter barriers faced by students with disabilities in the science and technology fields.

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) is a consumer-controlled, registered charitable organization with a mandate to encourage the self-empowerment of post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities in Canada. NEADS advocates for increased accessibility at all levels so that students with disabilities may gain equal access to a college or university education, which is the right of everyone. The Association also supports the successful transition of students and graduates with disabilities into employment within their chosen field.

Imperial Oil Limited has been contributing to communities across Canada for the past 126 years. Imperial Oil contributed more than $12 million to enhance the well-being of communities across Canada in 2006, building on a tradition of corporate giving that began with the company's inception in 1880. Supporting organizations where we live and work, the company emphasizes investment in education of math and sciences, environment, and civic and community programs where we have employees or business operations.

National Educational Association of Disabled Students National Conference 2008: "Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow"

Call for Speakers

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) is pleased to announce our 2008 National Conference, "Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow." It will take place at the Delta Ottawa Hotel and Suites from November 14-16, 2008.

We are seeking speaker proposals to address our four workshop themes:

  1. Job Search Strategies: Competing in the Job Market
  2. Enhancing Opportunities for Post-Secondary Students and Graduates with Disabilities in Science and Technology Related Fields
  3. Solutions to Library/Print Material Access for Post-Secondary Students With Disabilities
  4. Key Issues on Campus: Perspectives from Students with Disabilities

This conference will focus on solutions in order to drive change. We are seeking proposals that will, wherever possible, not only identify key issues or challenges, but also bring forward solutions.

We encourage speakers representing a diverse range of opinions and experiences, including:

  • high school, college and university students with disabilities;
  • educators at the high school and post-secondary levels;
  • service providers, librarians and other post-secondary professionals; and
  • employees with disabilities and employers.

Deadline for submissions is June 5, 2008. For further information on workshop themes and submission instructions go to www.neads.ca/conference2008

Contact Information for NEADS:
National Coordinator: Frank Smith National Educational Association of
Disabled Students (NEADS)
Rm. 426 Unicentre, Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6
tel. (613) 526-8008

  • [1]Attendant is defined as a person required to travel with a person with a disability for specific and clearly defined reasons related to:
    (a) specific personal care needs, and/or
    (b) safety in emergency evacuation and decompression circumstances, and does not include travel companions, family members and friends travelling with persons for reasons other than this.
  • [2]Friedlander, Henry. The Origins of Nazi Genocide. Pg. 39
    A Thesis submitted to the Department of History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for Honors in the Major Degree Awarded: Florida State University (Arts & Sciences—History)
    This paper is posted at the Florida State University D-Scholarship Repository. http://dscholarship.lib.fsu.edu/undergrad/76 Copyright 2005 by the author.

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.)