A Voice of Our Own: Summer 2012

On the CCD Agenda:

CCD Member Group Updates:


On the CCD Agenda:

News from the CCD Annual General Meeting

CCD Has New Executive

At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Winnipeg on 9 June 2012, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities elected a new Executive Committee:

• Tony Dolan, Chairperson
• Pat Danforth, 1st Vice Chair
• Steve Estey, 2nd Vice Chair
• Marc Workman, Secretary
• Anne McPhee, Treasurer
• Carmela Hutchison, Member at Large on Executive Committee

Committee Chairs

The CCD Council reappointed the following Committee chairs and co-chairs:
• Pat Danforth: Transportation Committee
• Steve Estey: International Development Committee
• Marie Ryan (formerly White) : Social Policy Committee
• Dean Richert and Anne Levesque: Human Rights Committee
• Dean Richert and Rhonda Wiebe: Ending of Life Ethics Committee
• John Rae and Gary Birch: Access to Technology Committee

CCD Recognizes Leaders

During the Annual Meeting, Tony Dolan announced the following recipients of this year’s CCD Awards:

• Johanna Johnson, nominated by BCCPD
• Marlin Styner, nominated by ACCD
• Gayle Dixon, nominated by SK Voice
• Colleen Watters, nominated by MLPD
• Pierre-Yves Lévesque, nominated by COPHAN
• Louise Gillis, nominated by NS-LEO
• Peter Doucette, nominated by the PEI Council of People with Disabilities
• Leanne Gallant, nominated by the CAD
• Laurence Parent, nominated by the DAWN-RAFH Canada
• Eugène LeBlanc, nominated by the NNMH
• Dominic Sigouin, nominated by TVAC
• Sylvain Bergeron, nominated by People First of Canada
• Christine Kelly and Erica Carson, nominated by CWD – O
• Sharlyn Ayotte, nominated by AEBC
• Karen Hollett, nominated by NWT Disabilities Council.

New Honourary Member

The CCD National Council made Bill Young CCD’s newest Honourary Member.  Mr. Young was the clerk of the Parliamentary Committee which focused on disability issues.

It's expensive to support the disabled -- suicide kits are $39.95

(On 21 July 2012, the Winnipeg Free Press published the following critique by Rhonda Wiebe. Rhonda spoke out in response to an ableist piece written by Arthur Schafer in support of assisted suicide. Rhonda Wiebe co-chairs the Council of Canadians with Disabilities' Ending of Life Ethics Committee.)

By Rhonda Wiebe

Freelance - Arthur Schafer's portrayal of comments on the merits of physician-assisted suicide need challenging (Assisted-suicide slope not so slippery, July 19). Schafer, like many supporters of physician-assisted suicide (also known as "doctor-prescribed death"), does not seem to have considered the wider issues facing Canadians with disabilities, including the ongoing social prejudice and discouraging lack of living supports that we encounter on a daily basis.

The recent decision in the British Columbia Supreme Court regarding the constitutional right of Gloria Taylor, an ALS patient, to end her own life rather than live with disability only confirms what we with disabilities already know -- that many Canadians believe it is better to be dead than disabled.  What also became clear in the decision is that the judge believes it is better to be dead than disabled.  The judgment was pronounced without considering the message it sends to all of us who believe that despite profound functional limitations, we want to live.

Gloria Taylor and others who are newly disabled face loss.  All of a sudden you can't do what you could easily do before.  Every day you face renegotiating the world around you in new and frightening ways.  No one wants it, but that's what has to be done if you want to live a vibrant and meaningful life.

Let's look at another very significant loss -- that of the death of a child.  The pain, I am told, is absolutely devastating.  Every day you are reminded of what you once had that is now gone.  Everywhere you turn, you have to reconfigure how you approach things, and you are constantly faced with ways of bracing yourself against this insurmountable absence of what you once had.

But when a parent loses a child, do the majority of Canadians chime in to say, "Your pain must be so horrible.  You have no quality of life. Here's a syringe -- why don't you end it all?  Better yet, here's a doctor ready to write you a deadly prescription."

If you find this notion offensive, then you know how disturbing it is for people with disabilities to hear either from persons who haven't yet adjusted to the losses inherent in acquiring a disability or to hear from able-bodied "experts" that we should have the right to end our own lives.  There is no apparent discussion, either in the Taylor decision or amongst persons such as Schafer, that acknowledges the problems might lie in our lack of supports to go on living.  Instead, they just want to make possibilities for us killing ourselves that much smoother.

Their argument, of course, is disguised as one of self-autonomy.  They want to make sure that we have the right to commit suicide.  But do they work hard to ensure that same right to grieving parents, heartbroken adolescents, or anyone else facing devastating social circumstances?  It is incomprehensible that suicide-prevention organizations are not more proactive when people with disabilities feel their only option is to kill themselves.

Let's look at another issue -- pain management.  If you read the Taylor case, you'll see that it actually has very little to do with physical pain.  This fact is consistent with data about who is asking for (and receiving) physician-assisted suicide. Jack Kevorkian killed far more people with newly diagnosed disability than he did those with terminal illness and unremitting pain.  Gloria Taylor's submission didn't talk about unretractable pain, but it did spend a lot of time describing how she was worried about not being able to go to the bathroom by herself.  I know a lot of vibrant, exemplary citizens who need assistance with incontinency issues.  There are products for that.

But if someone is really so ashamed of needing this kind of help, able-bodied Canadians have some pretty tough questions they better face about how they judge the merits and worth of other human beings based on the fact that their bodies have leaky places.

The insidious bottom line is this -- last I looked, a take-home euthanasia kit in Oregon cost $39.95.  That's a whole lot less expensive than providing someone with the supports they need to cope with the loss resulting from having a disability, and then providing them with the means to get on with the matters of daily living.

It's way cheaper to let people suffer, or cut back services so life is untenable, or subtly convince people with disabilities that they have lives that aren't worth living.  Imagine being inundated with the message that you have a right to end your miserable, burdensome, devalued life, because, really, it's your choice.  Unfortunately, some people with disabilities are starting to drink that Kool-Aid.

I know of what I speak. I live with an incurable medical condition that already diminishes my capacity to live, work and play.  My future holds a certainty of further losses, but the hardest thing to face is the tacit agreement on the part of ableist Canadians that the lives of people with disabilities are pitiable, disempowered and, in the end, not worth supporting.  The slope to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide isn't just slippery, it's growing slicker because Canadians aren't willing to carefully examine their own attitudes towards living with disability, and because, like much else, we're hurtling into a human-rights-devoid world where we do the cheap thing, not the right thing.

The Disability Community Remembers Earl Flynn

The disability community remembers Earl Flynn as an important disability rights advocate.  Earl passed away on 25 July 2012.

Earl was a former social worker and a leader in groups like Community Canadian Involvement of the Disabled, the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities and the Council of Canadians with disabilities. 

“Earl was very sensitive to people living in poverty, people living with disabilities and hardships, but he always saw a good side,” said Claredon Robicheau, treasurer of the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities and a Council member of CCD.

“That good side was the abilities of people with disabilities. He always saw they could participate in society.”

Earl made important contributions to the independent living movement and community- based transportation, said Robicheau.

“He became my mentor really quick because he was the voice of social action and helping others in need, making life for people with disabilities better and just making the community better, disabilities or not.”

Robicheau said the “advocacy champion” remained active up until his death.

“He made 100s of telephone conference calls, travelled from Glace Bay to Halifax for meetings with poor health. This is a guy who was sick, had every excuse to say ‘I’m tired’ but was the first one in the door and did it with a smile and wearing his Toronto Maple Leafs shirt all the way.”

CCD Member Group Updates:

• Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities
• Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities
• PEI Council of People with Disabilities
• Coalition of Persons with Disabilities Newfoundland and Labrador
• Canadian Association of the Deaf
• National Educational Association of Disabled Students

Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities

Alberta Government Launches Social Policy Framework Consultations: Input will guide approach to social policy

The Government of Alberta has launched its Speak. Share. Thrive. public consultation initiative asking Albertans to share their ideas about “how social policy can achieve better outcomes for Alberta’s children, families, individuals, and communities.”

Albertans have the opportunity at www.socialpolicy.alberta.ca and at community-led discussions to help create a social policy framework that will guide decisions about the relevance and effectiveness of social policies and programs for Albertans.

Through participation, Albertans with disabilities can have their voices heard to help build a framework that supports full participation in Alberta’s economy, communities, and cultural life.

Weslyn Mather, ACCD’s board president, encourages Albertans with disabilities to go to the website and comment on this important framework.  “We have the opportunity to create meaningful change for people with disabilities by addressing issues that are important in our everyday lives” says President Mather.

The Human Services Ministry houses many programs for Albertans with disabilities: Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped, Persons with Developmental Disabilities, Family Support for Children with Disabilities, Office of the Public Guardian, Office of the Public Trustee, Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, and Alberta Works.

Human Services has been meeting with stakeholders, citizens, and Government staff since December 2011 to create awareness and obtain input on the development of the social policy framework.

There are several ways to take part in conversations and give your opinions about the social policy framework: by writing in the wiki, responding to a blog, or taking the survey on www.socialpolicy.alberta.ca.  There is also a discussion toolkit on the site that helps individuals to hold a community discussion.  The deadline to participate in Speak. Share. Thrive. is July 31, 2012.

For more information, go to www.socialpolicy.alberta.ca or call the ACCD offices at 780-488-9088 or toll free at 1-800-387-2514.

Moving Continuing Care Centres Forward

(Excerpt from Moving Continuing Care Centres Forward: Concept Draft Paper which can be accessed at www.seniorscouncil.net/uploads/files/CCC%20Concept%20Paper%20June%202012...)

In December 2008, the Government of Alberta released the Continuing Care Strategy: Aging in the Right Place, which included strategies that build infrastructure to provide more options and improve choice and availability as to where Albertans receive services, as well as fund individuals based on needs.

Continuing Care Centres are a key component to further implementation of the Continuing Care Strategy and are a natural extension of this work.  The implementation of Continuing Care Centres will address three issues which currently require individuals (including seniors and persons with disabilities) to move between continuing care settings:

Access — appropriate service provision is not available in the individual’s place of residence and/or community as health care needs change.
Appropriateness — the site is not designed, functionally or physically, to support the care of individuals with increased needs.
Resources — the continuing care provider identifies a lack of sufficient resources to deliver the required increase in health care services.

In order to support Albertans to age in place, this work will identify challenges limiting the implementation of Continuing Care Centres and develop the provincial policy and operational processes required for successful implementation.

It is recognized that the term “Continuing Care Centre” has been previously used in Alberta to describe a variety of different settings or models.  For the purpose of this mandated initiative and its implementation, Continuing Care Centres:

  • Provide an integrated and seamless approach to the provision of continuing care services;
  • Promote independence and offer choice through the provision of an array of health, personal care and accommodation services in one location (a single building or a cluster of buildings on the same site);
  • Bring services and care to the client and adjust as needs change rather than the client having to move to another setting, as appropriate;
  • Enable seniors and persons with disabilities to maintain wellness and improve their quality of life;
  • Are supported by a comprehensive and robust home care program; and
  • Have strong community linkages

The Government of Alberta released the Aging Population Policy Framework which outlines the following principles for the development of policies, program and services that meet the changing needs of Alberta’s aging population.  These principles are the basis for the Continuing Care Centre model:

  • Fair and equitable to future generations
  • Collaborative with communities
  • Respectful of individual choice
  • Aimed at encouraging the independence of Albertans
  • Proactive and flexible to changing circumstances
  • Aligned towards achieving outcomes
  • Affordable to taxpayers
  • Effective and efficient at achieving intended objectives
  • Structured to assist Albertans most in need
  • Informed by evidence and input

In addition to the above principles, publicly funded continuing care health services will continue to be provided to all Albertans based on assessed need.


• Continuing Care Centres will support individuals to age in place by:

  • Allowing individuals to remain in one location when their health and personal care needs change minimizing the need to move to a new physical setting.
  • Providing the opportunity to continue to live as a couple and with or nearby family/friends, if they wish, even when their types or amount of health care needs differ, as appropriate.
  • Supporting independence and encouraging participation in social and spiritual activities including those in the larger community.
  • Respecting their well-being, dignity and privacy at every stage of life.
  • Enabling flexible responses to their needs and wishes.

• Continuing Care Centres provide holistic, quality, person-centred services by:

  • Establishing and maintaining supportive relationships with individuals and families.
  • Ensuring that team members know their roles and responsibilities and work to support one another in delivering the best possible accommodation and care supports to the people they serve.
  • Working together with individuals and their families to develop and implement a collaborative service plan that meets the individuals’ needs and preferences.
  • Offering long-term residency within or as close to the client’s community as possible.
  • Addressing expectations by providing greater choice.

• Continuing Care Centres will engage with the community by:

  • Involving Continuing Care Centres and their residents as part of community development and planning.
  • Encouraging the use of an integrated approach to planning community programs.
  • Establishing partnerships in order to accommodate increasing needs within the site or community. Such inter-agency collaboration will strengthen opportunities for community or geographically based support networks and establish the Continuing Care Centre within community hubs.

Continuing Care Centre Core Elements

• Continuing Care Centres will provide a range of co-located housing options and provide access to accommodation, hospitality services, professional health, personal care and community living support services. In order to meet the goals outlined above, Continuing Care Centres will have the following core elements:

  • A physical structure that is flexible in order to meet the range of service delivery needs.
  • A wide array of services within safe and secure accommodations.
  • Enhanced choice in living environments and the option to obtain additional amenities or services beyond those funded by government.
  • A flexible and integrated approach to service delivery allowing clients to age in place with services coming to the individual when care needs change.
  • The ability to provide services to individuals with complex health care needs.
  • A strategy to maximize individual and family engagements.
  • A place for community engagement and partnerships.

SCITCS Purchases State-of-the-Art Equipment

The Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre Society (SCITCS) of Northern Alberta is excited to announce the purchase of two state-of-the-art Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) exercise machines.  The machines have been installed within the fitness centre at the Saville Sports Centre in Edmonton.

FES is a technique by which electrical currents are applied to paralyzed or weakened muscles eliciting a contraction for the purpose of functional movements.

In 1991, SCITCS purchased the first FES rehabilitation exercise system in western Canada, which was given to The Steadward Centre at the University of Alberta, as a means for those with spinal injuries to exercise.  Over the years SCITCS has provided approximately $350,000 in support of FES equipment programs.

Its success was such that the program rapidly reached capacity, resulting in a two to three year waiting list for those wishing to use the system for regular exercise.

In March 2010, a committee was struck to explore the possibility of expanding the FES exercise program to provide more exercise options for those with spinal cord injuries.  The result is collaboration between The Steadward Centre, SCITCS, and the Saville Community Sports Centre.

New FES equipment has been purchased by SCITCS: two stationary cycles - an RT 300 allows people with a disability to wheel up to the equipment, and without transferring, strap on electrodes and move their legs, and an RT 200, which provides its users the opportunity to exercise both the arms and the legs at the same time.

Nowhere in North America is there a facility and program giving those with spinal cord injuries the freedom to exercise in a public venue when they wish and with whom they wish.  People with Multiple Sclerosis, brain injury, stroke, and other disabilities also use the equipment.

SCITCS has also provided funding towards the salary of an employee at the Saville Centre to train individuals on the use of the equipment. SCITCS covers the assessment costs, cost of electrodes, and a Saville membership for one year for all persons with SCI.

For more information about the Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre Society’s involvement, call Louise Miller at 780 436-5606.  To be assessed for suitability for FES exercise, call Bobbi-Jo Atchison at 780-492-9389. For more information on FES equipment, see Restorative-Technologies.com, and to see a video, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXwI-feJYok.

ACCD Board of Directors: 2012-2013

May 25, 2012 marked another successful annual general meeting for ACCD. It also marked the end of Earle Snider’s 6-year term on our board of directors.  Earle’s insights have been greatly valued over the years.  We wish him well and extend our sincerest thanks for all he has done for ACCD.  But as old friends leave, we welcome new ones aboard: Dave Storey is back on the board after a short break. Keep watch for profiles of our new board members in the coming months.

Our 2012-2013 Board of Directors

  • President: Weslyn Mather - Edmonton
  • Vice President: Dave Storey- Grande Prairie
  • Secretary: Art Erickson, Wabamun
  • Treasurer: Ray Royer - Edmonton
  • Nominating: Doreen Gyorkos – Lethbridge
  • Awards: Donalda Erickson - Lethbridge
  • Director: Susann Grodsky - Calgary
  • Director: Harold Crittenden – Calgary
  • CCD representative: Doreen Gyorkos – Lethbridge

Alberta Disabilities Forum Update

The Alberta Disabilities Forum has been working on a number of initiatives which are now available on ADF’s website: www.adforum.ca/publications.html:

  • Persons with Developmental Disabilities: Summary of the Issues
  • Improving Access to AADL Supports

In addition, ADF has two new working groups: Universal Disability Supports and Barrier-Free Design Working Group.  For further information on these initiatives, contact Alex at the ACCD office at 780-488-9088.


Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities

MLPD’s 2011-2012 AGM… Celebrating Our Achievements

by Jess Turner, MLPD Co-chair

On Thursday, June 28th, MLPD hosted our latest AGM at the Union Centre on Broadway.  We had a great turn out from members and the community at large yet again, with members of the Executive Council presenting to a packed room.  To commemorate the productive year, MLPD gave out free Thumbs Up T-shirts and hats to those who were in attendance.  The free swag was a hit and a striking reminder of how quickly our Thumbs Up Program, which conducts accessibility audits within the community and distributes information about making communities more accessible, is growing.

We also invited a number of presenters to discuss our partnerships with various community organizations.  Our first presenter was John Silver from Community Financial Counseling Services (CFCS).  John provided the group with a general overview of the organization, the services offered, as well as distributed a handout entitled, “Getting Yourself on Financial Track”.

Next, we had a presentation from Dennis Lewicky from the Social Planning Council (SPC).  Dennis shared with us the mandate of the organization and highlighted ways in which various community groups could collaborate to make the community more accessible to all.  The two presentations generated a lot of buzz in the room and great discussion followed.

The group was also given a short presentation from Zanna Joyce, who is currently working for CFCS to develop a financial literacy program and resource materials geared towards people with disabilities.  This project is a partnership between MLPD and CFCS, with the aid of a TD Financial Foundation Grant. Zanna will be working on the project for one more year, to develop the necessary materials for various community organizations to deliver financial literacy training that is accessible to and inclusive of persons with disabilities.

To round out the discussion, the League’s co-chairs (Paula Keirstead and Jess Turner) gave an overview of all the exciting initiatives undertaken by MLPD over the course of the year.  This presentation was bolstered by the Powerpoint presentation that played in the background during the course of the evening which highlighted photos of the many successes MLPD has had since the organization’s inception in 1974.  As co-chair, this was an opportunity for me to really reflect on the activities we all participated in this year, as well as marvel at the many great partnerships we have developed recently.  MLPD is well on its way to re-establishing itself as a leader in the community to help identify and remove barriers that we face on a daily basis!

Given the current financial climate, Ken Bristow (Treasurer) presented our Year-End Financial Statement with much sternness and foreboding.  Although MLPD has secured money from the government for another year, the League is looking at more sustainable ways of securing funding.  We have a new Fundraising Committee that is currently developing a number of initiatives.  If you are interested in becoming involved in the Fundraising Committee, please call into the office to learn more about how you can help.

The evening came to a close by opening the floor to members for questions and comments.  Personally, this is always my favorite part of any AGM, as it allows for others to express their voice.  MLPD Council members are renewed by these discussions, as your input guides our initiatives for the following year.  If you were not able to attend the AGM this year, I would highly encourage you to participate next year.  It is a great opportunity to meet people and discover exactly what it is that the League accomplishes from year to year, as well as be inspired to become actively involved in your community.

Again, I would like to extend a huge “Thank You” to all staff, volunteers, council members, and committee members. I eagerly anticipate the upcoming year!

Thumbs Up for Access – Community Edition…Year Two

by Daniel Halechko

During year two, our project proceeded to audit Portage Avenue west and got as far as Ferry Road. As a milestone, we intend to continue down Portage until we reach Moray Street. We should complete this segment by the end of August, 2012. It is noteworthy that we already have 23 accessible buildings.

We were very busy with fundraising activities. We submitted an application to the Winnipeg Foundation for $20,000.00 and will hear from them in September 2012. These funds will help us complete our objectives and will provide money to hire a group facilitator.

In addition, MLPD applied for $8,000.00 from the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.  These funds will be used for the curriculum development component of the Thumbs Up project.

Although funding is not guaranteed, we feel quite confident that our requests are realistic and the Thumbs Up for Access project is very worthy of receiving funding.

Our project is fortunate to have a diverse and capable advisory committee to provide us with the direction and support we need to be successful and attain our goals. The only area that we are lacking is representation from the seniors’ community, but we are aggressively seeking such representation.

Membership feedback or suggestions and ideas are always welcome. If you have a good idea speak it and I will lend you my ear.

Manitoba Access Awareness Week 2012 A Success

by Colleen Watters

The Province of Manitoba proclaimed June 3 to 9, 2012, Manitoba Access Awareness Week (MAAW). MAAW raises awareness of the barriers people with disabilities face that impact their full participation in society and promotes the removal of these barriers.

The week began on Monday, June 4 with a kick-off at the Forks.  The Honourable Jennifer Howard, Minister Responsible for Persons with Disabilities, brought greetings on behalf of the province and events planned for the week were highlighted.  Entertainment was provided by Hussien Mohammed and Anna Gschwend (two ILRC consumers).   In addition to the kick-off, other events included:

  • Ride for Fun Event presented by the Vision Impaired Resource Network (VIRN) which took place following the kick-off.
  • Daily Lunch and Learn series organized by Winnipeg’s Independent Living Resource Centre from June 4-8.
  • Vision Impaired Resource Network’s Annual General Meeting, June 9.

On Friday, June 8, 2012, a very successful awards luncheon was held to celebrate the leadership provided by individuals, organizations and businesses in making Manitoba an inclusive society.  The Honourable Jennifer Howard, Minister responsible for Persons with Disabilities acknowledged the leadership provided by all nominees and presented four awards, as follows:

Outstanding individual voluntary contribution toward creating a fully inclusive society: Norma Vibora.

Organizational excellence in creating a more inclusive society (Two organizations were selected as award winners.):

  • Manitoba Farmers with Disabilities Association (MFWD) and the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
  • Outstanding Business Practices in enabling a more inclusive work environment for Manitobans with disabilities: Parkway Co-Op of Rossburn.

The Rossburn Age-Friendly committee hosted an afternoon tea on Saturday June 9.  Community member Diane Twerdun acted as ambassador and personal host to Rossburn’s Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Ms. Leanne Rowat.  Ms. Twerdun was honoured by the event organizers, and was presented with a certificate by Ms. Rowat, for being "a shining beacon" and local champion in addressing accessibility issues. 

The Rossburn Tea also recognized Lisa Leflar, Manager of the Parkway Co-Op, which was honoured with a Manitoba Access Awareness Achievement award for creating an accessible entry, offering customer-friendly services and hiring a person with a disability.

MAAW 2012 was organized by a Steering Committee composed of the following members:  Jess Turner (Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities); Janet Forbes, (Community Living Winnipeg); Shannon Martin (Reaching Equality Employment Services); Doris Koop (Vision Impaired Resource Network); Stacey Shule (Canadian Mental Health Association- Winnipeg Region); Ann Harry (Canadian National Institute for the Blind); Doug Lockhart (Independent Living Resource Centre); Natalie Mulaire and Heather Hiscock (Society for Manitobans with Disabilities), Shirley Kalyniuk and Ed Zimmerman (Rossburn Age-Friendly Community Committee) and Colleen Watters (Disabilities Issues Office).


PEI Council of People with Disabilities

Another busy year for the PEI Council of People with Disabilities

2011-2012 has been a very busy period for the PEICOD. While the day-to-day work of the Council is ongoing, the year has been marked by some significant events which will produce serious results for people with disabilities on PEI.  The following information provides some details of two of these events.

Marcia Carroll, Executive Director of the PEICOD, has served as Chair of the PEI Disability Action Council for the last two years.  At the end of this time the first Bi-Annual report recording the progress of the Council was published at a major press event.  Fourteen of the original forty-seven recommendations were adopted, an important milestone, although the Council recognizes that many challenges remain.

As readers will be aware, finding housing for people with disabilities is a recurring and insurmountable obstacle.  However, in a dedicated effort to relieve this situation, the PEICOD during the last year has partnered with local entrepreneurs Wendy and David McQuaid to build affordable accessible housing in the east of the island in Montague.  This small town is forty minutes drive from the capital of Charlottetown and as a consequence many amenities available in the City are not available to people with disabilities.  The Celtic is a five-unit barrier free apartment complex that allows individuals to live independently and in their own community.  All the units were filled within weeks of breaking ground, and there is a waiting list that will stretch into the future.

The Celtic is the first in what is planned to be the first of other housing complexes to be built across the island in the future.

For more details about the Bi-Annual Disability Action Council Report contact Danny Redmond at djredmond@gov.pe.ca and for additional information on the work of the PEICOD, please check our website at www.peicod.pe.ca


Coalition of Persons with Disabilities Newfoundland and Labrador

New Laws, New Fines: Blue Zone Parking Given More Priority

Drivers who ignore Blue Zone parking regulations could now face fines of up to $400.  The rate used to be a maximum of $75.  In addition, there are clearer rules for permanent signage, compliance with the international logo and paint color; and other measures to make sure that only persons with parking permits have the right to use
the special parking zones.

The amendments were enacted into law by the House of Assembly; and mirror laws have been adopted by the City of St. John’s and other municipalities.  All changes came into effect on the first day of April; but full compliance won’t apply until the end of September, giving businesses time to implement the changes.

For years, an array of provincial and municipal laws created confusion, leaving persons with disabilities pleading for change.  In February, the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador—Paul Davis—announced that the message had been heard; and his department had reviewed the old legislation and produced a list of recommended changes.  Besides increasing fines for unauthorized drivers using Blue Zone parking spaces, the department has overhauled the Buildings Accessibility Regulations; and the Designated Mobility Impaired Parking Regulations under the Highway Traffic Act.

“These amendments are designed to clarify the requirement for signage to be permanent in nature,” he said, “clearly-visible in identifying these parking spaces; and to be maintained in good condition.” 

More importantly, the regulations set out specific dimensions for Blue Zone parking stalls.  Before now, many business establishments simply painted a few parking slots blue, applied the international logo (or not); and used haphazard methods to hold up the designated-parking signs.  With the new regulations, parking slots must be a “minimum size of 3.9 metres wide and shall contain at least 1.5 metres of access aisle.” In effect, it means each Blue Zone parking slot would occupy about one-and-a-half regular parking spaces.

The President of the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities--Michelle Murdoch--welcomes the changes; but says the major issue now will be enforcing those regulations.  An official at St. John’s City Hall says up to 30 enforcement officers with the City of St. John’s will be patrolling the city looking for parking zones that don’t conform to the new regulations.  This information will then be sent to Service Newfoundland and Labrador for enforcement by the province.

Persons with disabilities and the general public can help out by notifying the city or the department of Service Newfoundland and Labrador of Blue Zone parking spaces that don’t meet the new minimum standards.  Permit holders should ensure that their permits are properly displayed in their vehicle.  If expiry dates are blocked or hidden from view, then they can be ticketed. 


Members of the House of Assembly recently paid formal tribute to the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities--COD-NL.  The legislature also acknowledged the valuable work being done by the Coalition's volunteer President, Michelle Murdoch; and Executive Director, Kelly White.

The request to sit as invited guests of the House came from Dan Crummell (PC-St. John's West), who also attended the opening of the Coalition's new office location at 15 Hamlyn Road, in Mr. Crummell's electoral district. On March 28, Mr. Crummell gave the following address in the House of Assembly:  "Mr. Speaker, COD-NL is an advocacy organization for persons with disabilities in our province," he said.  "It serves people with all disabilities, promoting their rights and raising awareness at local and provincial levels.  Mr. Speaker, I had the honour of attending the grand opening of COD-NL's new office back in December, which was organized to coincide with the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

I was very impressed with the space.  I had the opportunity to speak with board members from across the province; as well as members of organizations representing individuals with various disabilities, and they, too, were very excited about the space.  The new office is fully accessible, there is more parking; and--of course--the location itself provides increased visibility.  Mr. Speaker, increased visibility goes hand-in-hand with creating increased awareness within the community of COD-NL, and this is very positive."


Canadian Association of the Deaf

VRS Issues in Canada

In a press release February 1, 2012, the CAD Board announced the latest steps in our battle for a permanent Video Relay Services (VRS) in Canada that includes ASL and LSQ and spoken languages (English and French). The CAD also launched an online petition to demand that the federal government and Members of Parliament support a permanent national VRS in Canada by the fall of 2012.

On February 9 and 10, 2012, Frank Folino, CAD Vice-President, met several Members of Parliament in Ottawa including Scott Simms, Liberal Critic for Canadian Heritage; Marc Garnaeau, Liberal House Leader; Rodger Cuzner, Liberal Critics for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Labour; a representative from the Liberal Interim Leader’s office; Geoff Regan, Liberal Critics for Industry and Consumer Affairs; and Paul Calandera, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to explain important points about VRS in both official languages (English and French) and official signed languages (ASL and LSQ) in Canada.  Peter Julian prepared a press conference but it was cancelled due to conflict with other federal meetings and accessibility issues for the logistics of the press conference. Good work by Frank!

Frank Folino and Jim Roots attended the final meeting of Bell Canada’s VRS Feasibility Study Advisory Council as CAD representatives on February 16th, 2012, along with representatives from CHS, OAD and CQDA.  The Council reviewed the final report before Bell submitted it to the CRTC at the end of February.

The CAD has been fighting for a national VRS since 2004 and will not stop until it is established on a permanently funded basis.

CAD’s Board Meeting

The Board met through Skype video on February 10th, 2012.  Sheila Montney, Aaron Montney and Doug Momotiuk were in Winnipeg while Frank Folino, Marie-Josee Blier and Jim Roots were in Ottawa. This was the first video Board meeting in CAD’s history.

The Board discussed VRS, Deaf Canada Conference ’12, the vacant position of Director at Large, video mails, fundraising ideas, a Board retreat, the 2nd International Conference of the World Federation of the Deaf in October 2013, and plans for a 75th Anniversary event in 2015.   

Drummond’s Recommendations

CAD wrote a letter to Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty, Premier, and Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance, urging them to reject the recommendation of the Drummond Report to close 3 of the 4 Deaf schools in Ontario. For the most deaf children and students, the environments and curricula of the four schools in Belleville, London, Milton and Ottawa are their best chance to achieve academic and social excellence. Deaf students who have strong levels of ASL/LSQ early proficiency also attain high levels of English/French literacy.

We in the Deaf Community see the long-term results of the campaign against Sign language and Deaf schools: adults who are poorly educated and unable to qualify for post-secondary institutions, who are unemployed, who suffer mental health and addiction problems directly related to their lack of real language skills.  The government might save a few dollars on education now, but it will end up spending millions on poverty, unemployment, and social and health expenses in the future if the schools are closed.

On March 27, 2012, we were very happy to learn that the Government of Ontario took our advice and rejected Drummond’s recommendation.

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)

Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) will be held on the 10th day of November 2012 at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown (6083 McKay Avenue, Burnaby, British Columbia) from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m to conduct the following business:

1.Welcome address
2. Adoption of agenda
3. Minutes from previous AGM
4. Annual Report
5. Financial statements
6. Appointment of auditors
7. By-law modifications
8. Adjournment

Further information on the board of director’s election of officers will be made available on our website at a later date.  According to the by-laws of the Association, only active members may attend and vote at the General Meeting.  All members and the public are invited to attend, but cannot vote. No proxy attendance or voting will be allowed.  For further information please contact the NEADS National Office at (613) 380-8065, ext. 201 or toll free at 1-877-670-1256, extension 201.