CCD Voice of Our Own - Winter 2015

On the CCD Agenda


Member Groups

Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship Research Project: Recommendations for Positive Change

CCD for the last five years has directed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council project looking at poverty and disability.   We have examined several critical questions:

• Who are the people with disability living in poverty?
• How adequate are income and support programs in alleviating poverty?
• What legal protections exist for Canadians living in poverty?
• What policy reform options could break the cycle of poverty and disability?

Co-principal investigator Michael Prince has summarized the key research findings and policy reform options developed by this .  Below is a bird's eye view of the types of recommendations the researchers identified that community organizations might pursue with the Federal Government to improve the income security of persons with disabilities.

Federal Recommendation #1
Establish a Refundable Disability Tax Credit
Federal Recommendation #2
Harmonize Eligibility Rules Between the DTC and CPP Disability
Federal Recommendation #3
Extend Protection of Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits
Federal Recommendation #4
Expand the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) Disability Supplement
Federal Recommendation #5
Improve Access to the Registered Disability Savings Plan
Federal Recommendation #6
Enhance the Canada Disability Child Benefit
Federal Recommendation #7
Protect Income Support for Long-Term Employees with Disabilities from Bankruptcy
Federal Recommendation #8
A New Basic Income for People with Severe Disabilities
Federal Recommendation #9
Introduce Accessibility Legislation
Federal Recommendation #10
Reinstate the Court Challenges Program
Federal Recommendation #11
Implement UN Convention of the Rights for Persons with Disabilities

Read more.

Commentary on SCC Assisted Suicide Judgment in Carter v. Canada –  Key Concerns

1. The judgment creates the potential for the most permissive and least restrictive criteria for assisted suicide in the world, putting persons with disabilities at serious risk.

2. CCD and CACL are disappointed that the views of people with disabilities in Canada, as shared by the leading disability advocacy groups around the world, were disregarded by the Court.

3. The Court did not impose a requirement of terminal illness, as is required in the states of Washington and Oregon.

4. The judgment permits assisted suicide on the basis of psychological suffering. This places people with serious mental and emotional disabilities at risk, as well as people who have not yet come to grips with their disability.

5. The judgment allows people to decline palliative and other care that would alleviate their suffering, and imposes an obligation on the state to provide Assisted Suicide, but not palliative care.

6. The Court has focused on striking the law using two potentially expansive criteria –in doing so, it paid no attention to ensuring Assisted Suicide is limited to a small number.

7. The judgment makes the existence of a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” , rather than a terminal illness, one of the two primary criteria – this potentially means that all persons with a serious disability in Canada can access Assisted Suicide. This degree of permissiveness does not exist anywhere else in the world.

8. The second criteria, “intolerable suffering,” is completely subjective and will make it difficult to review decisions of doctors like Dr. Kevorkian who felt the existence of a disability was intolerable.

9. Numbers are revealing – in Belgium, the number of Assisted Suicide deaths has increased an average of 47.77% annually since 2003, and in the Netherlands it has increased 64.13% since 1995, with no end in sight to this increase.

10. Parliament can and should act to place crucial safeguards on the Court’s judgment to limit access to assisted suicide.

11. CCD and CACL call on Parliament to show national leadership on the issues of palliative and long-term care to reduce the number of people who will choose assisted suicide out of desperation because they do not have access to support systems to ease their end of life.

The judgement is available from the Supreme Court of Canada.

Member Group Updates

Disability Alliance BC

Annualized Earnings Exemption: A first in Canada in BC
Jane Dyson

People receiving disability benefits in BC (the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefit) are able to keep up to $800 a month or $9,600 a year in earned income without losing any of their disability benefits cheque. Earned income is generally defined by BC’s Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI) as “any money or value received in exchange for work or the provision of a service.” (Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Regulation) The amount of earned income that PWD recipients are able to keep with deductions being made to their monthly cheque is known as the earnings exemption.

Unfortunately many PWD recipients are unable to work because of the challenges resulting from their disability and the difficulty finding employment that will accommodate their needs. However, BC’s earnings exemption is one of the highest in Canada, and for benefits recipients who are able to work, the earnings exemption helps supplement the province’s severely inadequate disability benefits rates.

In January 2015, BC became the first province in Canada to implement the Annualized Earnings Exemption (AEE). Under the AEE as the name suggests, earnings are calculated by the year rather than the month. The benefit of the AEE is that it provides more flexibility and consequently more independence to PWD recipients who are able to work. For example, an individual is offered a six month contract at $1,200 a month, a total of $7,200. Under the AEE the person can keep the full amount with no deductions from their disability cheque, and they would still be able to earn an additional $1,400 over the rest of the year with no deductions. Under the monthly system the individual would keep only $800 of their monthly $1,200 contract fee. In this scenario, the monthly fee can be seen to work as a disincentive to employment.

The AEE will be particularly beneficial to people with episodic health conditions. It will also help people who twice a year get paid three times a month. Under the monthly system if this means they earn more than $800 in the month they will have their cheque deducted dollar for dollar. This will not be the case under the AEE.

DABC has been urging the province to implement the AEE for a few years now, and we congratulate MSDSI’s Minister for listening to the community and for moving forward with this positive initiative. We were very pleased when MSDSI first agreed to pilot the AEE and then move ahead to full implementation following the positive feedback from people who had trialed the new system.

As with any change, there will be some who may not like the AEE. It will require PWD recipients to carefully track their earnings and this may be a bit more challenging than under the monthly system. But the AEE has many advantages, most importantly it will mean PWD recipients will have the opportunity to keep more of their earnings and have more choices about when they work.

Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities

ACCD on the Web!


Continuing Care in Alberta

Continuing Care front-line staff have been affected by a decision to cut 120 full-time positions for Licensed Practical Nurses. Many of these staff have been asked to reapply for part-time positions, with reduced hours and benefits. Covenant Health representatives say the changes will improve patient care and provide adequate staffing for peak care times during the day.

After system-wide changes were made to the Continuing Care program in 2013, the Alberta Disabilities Forum initiated a Home Care working group. The working group has advocated for improvements to the quality of home care services, staff training and remuneration, as well as increased transparency and stakeholder input into decisions that affect Albertans who need home care.

To learn more about the work that ADF has done regarding home care, visit or email

Is an Alberta Election in the Air?

Albertans may be noticing the signs of an early provincial election. In Alberta, elections generally take place between March 1 and May 31 of the election year. It is never too early to prepare for an election and to educate ourselves on the candidates who are running in our constituencies. The Alberta Disabilities Forum will be preparing Election Fact Sheets. Stay tuned for more information on Alberta’s upcoming election.

The Registered Disability Savings Plan: Saving for the Future

ACCD will be hosting workshops for people with disabilities to learn about the RDSP. These workshops will explain how you can open an RDSP, contribute and withdraw funds from an RDSP, close an RDSP and other important information.

The RDSP workshops will take place between March 6 and July 3, 2015. Contact ACCD at 780-488-9088 or for more information.

Early Bird AGM Notice

The ACCD Annual General Meeting is scheduled for May 30, 2015. Stay tuned for full details on ACCD’s annual meeting.

Saskatchewan Voice of People with Disabilities

Youth Empowerment Series

First of all, we would like to thank Access Communications for the funds to deliver the Youth Empowerment Workshops. Without their support, none of the work-shops would have been possible.

Over the past few years, over 100 youth have been part of the workshops. They have learned about safety; how to deal with bullying; internet safety, to name a few.

The workshops have enabled youth with disabilities to talk freely about their concerns, as well as have their peers suggest ways of handling certain situations.

Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD)

Former League Coordinator Improves Access to Handi-Transit

Through a human rights complaint, Diane Driedger, MLPD's former provincial coordinator, has expanded access to Handi-Transit.  When she tried to register for Handi-Transit, Diane's application was turned down, because she did not meet the system's admission criteria.  As a person living with fibromyalgia, Diane experiences chronic intermittent pain and fatigue which have an adverse impact on mobility.  Diane filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, because she believed that Handi-Transit was not properly accommodating people with episodic disabilities when they applied for Handi-Transit or appealed its decisions. 

As a result of Diane's complaint, Handi-Transit is improving its application and assessment process and written materials to be inclusive of chronic episodic disabilities, specifically referencing pain and fatigue as impacting mobility.

The Manitoba Human Rights Commission, Handi-Transit and Diane Driedger reviewed the application and assessment process to ensure that people with episodic disabilities were not disadvantaged.

As the result of a human rights complaint by a person with a disability Handi-Transit's processes have been made more transparent, equitable, and accessible than it was at the time when the complaint was filed.  By taking action against barriers, people with disabilities make Manitoba more accessible and inclusive for everyone.

“This is an important step for the transportation industry to acknowledge that pain and fatigue are symptoms of many invisible disabilities,” Executive Director Azim Jiwa says. “A settlement like this increases awareness of episodic disabilities and their impact on society and individuals.”

Individuals with diagnosed intermittent pain have periods of good health which are interrupted by periods of illness or disability. Often it is difficult to predict when these “episodes” of disability will occur or how long they will last. An increasing number of Canadians are living with lifelong episodic disabilities.

Examples of chronic intermittent pain disabilities are: HIV/Aids, multiple sclerosis, lupus, cancer, diabetes and fibromyalgia.


Citizens with Disabilities Ontario (CWDO)

CWDO budget recommendations 

CWDO has submitted recommendations to the Minister of Finance for Ontario's 2015-16 budget.

We recommend budget commitments in five key areas:

1. Strengthening existing legislation and introducing new legislation to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities and promote full participation: Healthcare, Education and Employment
2. Ensuring that persons with disabilities who cannot work have sufficient income to maintain their health and wellbeing.
3. Providing accessible, affordable housing
4. Ensuring equality of access to accessible, affordable transit in every municipality
5. Providing core funding to provincial organizations to provide public education and peer support about accessibility.

Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities

Scholarships for 15 Students

The Partnership for Access Nova Scotia (PAANS), which is a committee of the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities, is offering the PAANS scholarships for post-secondary students with disabilities in the province.

There are scholarships for 15 students from $1,500 - $2,000 through this program.

Application forms are available through the Partnership for Access Awareness Nova Scotia website:

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)

Accessible Federal Elections Town Hall - February 28th, 2015

Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) and the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians had an accessible federal elections town hall – Saturday, February 28, 2015, where participants will have the opportunity to speak with the Chief Electoral Officer for Elections Canada, Marc Mayrand.

Marc Mayrand's appointment as Chief Electoral Officer of Canada was unanimously approved by the House of Commons on February 21, 2007. He became the sixth person to hold the office since the position was established in 1920.

Before heading Elections Canada, Mr. Mayrand served as Superintendent of Bankruptcy. After joining the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy in 1982, he held a variety of positions including Deputy Superintendent, Programs, Standards and Regulatory Affairs and Deputy Superintendent, Operations. Before joining the federal public service and the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, Mr. Mayrand was a full-time professor at the University of Ottawa, Civil Law Section, where he taught Insolvency, Corporate/Commercial Law, and Public and Administrative Law.

Mr. Mayrand holds a Bachelor's degree in Law from the University of Ottawa and a Master's in Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has been a member of the Quebec bar since 1977.

DisAbled Women's Network (DAWN) Canada Réseau d'action des femmes handicapées (RAFH) Canada

BODIES OF LIGHT: Celebrating International Women’s Day through the Lens of Disability and Difference

In their debut single, “This isn’t Disneyland”, ‘The Sisters of Invention attack the myth of fairy-tale princesses in their video, kicking down Lego towers and destroying toys–ripping a stuffed animal apart and lighting dolls on fire or smashing them with hammers.’” -E. Lewy, Inglorious Fiction:

In Celebration of International Women’s Day on March 7th, Tangled Art + Disability and the DisAbled Women’s Network Canada come together to host an evening of media work by women artists with disabilities. For one night only, Bodies of Light will feature rich and provocative work by artists whose identities reveal a wide range of stories and creative practices. This event invites us to participate in the celebration of diversity, creativity and identity through the lens of disabled artists from all over the world.

Highlights of the Bodies of Light evening program includes:

- The Sisters of Invention - an all girls disabled pop group from Australia who started out singing in a choir for Tutti Arts and now write their own songs and perform as a group. They have been featured on the BBC News online.

"When I turn on the TV, radio or read a news article, it would be nice to see something other than pretty, slim, airbrushed, non-disabled sex-kittens wearing bikinis running along the beach with their hair blowing back while she does sexy moves laying in the sand getting tanned as a wave crashes and washes her bikini off."  - The Sisters of Invention, DailyLife,

- A short documentary by Nomy Lamm and Patricia Berne that features the work of Sins Invalid, a performance project spotlighting disability and sex through the provocative work of disability artists, centralizing artists of colour and queer and gender-variant artists who have been historically marginalized from social discourse. Link to their work here:

Panelists include:

Catherine McKinnon, Director of the Deaf Arts and Film Festival
Patty Berne, Co-founder of Sins Invalid
Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director of DisAbled Women’s Network Canada
Laurence Parent, Mobile Media Lab
Rina Fraticelli, Exective Director of Tangled Art + Disability
With guest speaker: Pat Israel, one of the founding members of DisAbled Women’s Network Canada

March 7th, 2015
Innis Town Hall
2 Sussex Ave, Toronto

Tickets available here:
General Admission: $10
People with disabilities: $5
PSW: Free

Facebook event:
Twitter: @TangledArtsTO

This event is sponsored by NBCUniversal.

Tangled Art + Disability is a charitable organization dedicated to developing and showcasing the work of artists with disabilities. For over ten years, Tangled has been a leader and catalyst bringing together artists with disabilities and a diverse public through a wide range of performance, media and visual arts events. Tangled uses the power of art as a transforming medium to enhance the understanding and acceptance that people with disabilities can and do make significant contributions to all aspects of society, in particular the arts and an evolving cultural sector. Link to their website:

DAWN-RAFH Canada’s DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN-RAFH) Canada is a national, feminist, cross-disability organization whose mission is to end the poverty, isolation, discrimination and violence experienced by Canadian women with disabilities and Deaf women. DAWN-RAFH is an organization that works towards the advancement and inclusion of women and girls with disabilities and Deaf women in Canada. DAWN-RAFH Canada’s overarching strategic theme is one of leadership, partnership and networking to engage all levels of government and the wider disability and women’s sectors and other stakeholders in addressing our key issues. Link to their website:

Access Information:

This event is in a barrier-free location. There will be ASL interpreters and attendant care. We request that you help us to make this a scent-free environment. For any other accessibility arrangements or questions about accessibility, please contact Cara at by February 26th, 2015. This is a sober space.

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)

NEADS' Vancouver "Finance Matters" - An Interactive Day on Financial Literacy and Financial Aid

Join the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) for "Finance Matters" - An Interactive Day of Learning on Financial Aid and Financial Literacy, in Vancouver, British Columbia, March 20, 2015 at the Hilton Vancouver  Metrotown hotel, Crystal Ballroom, 6083 McKay Ave, Burnaby from 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.!

This will be an innovative and educational one-day event with workshops and interactive presentations. The forum will comprise a series of workshops and discussions on a variety of topics including:   budgeting and managing money while in school, effective borrowing, accessing student aid, creative saving, financial planning, the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

Finance Matters will include a demonstration of the unique financial aid portal developed by NEADS, (<>

Students will learn how to be more successful in seeking funding for their studies and saving for the future. This will enable participants to better manage their finances during school and beyond. Gaining greater understanding of financial aid opportunities will lead to reducing the amount of debt.

There will also be a presentation on B.C.'s exciting new Work-Able:  Graduate Internship Program, for post-secondary graduates with disabilities.

The event is free. Lunch will be served along with a light breakfast and refreshments. ASL interpretation will be provided. Thanks to our generous sponsors: the Vancouver Foundation and Vancity for making "Finance Matters" possible.

Speakers include:
John Boylan, President of the Canadian Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, University of British Columbia
Odette Dantzer, Work-Able: Graduate Internship Program, Hiring Strategies, B.C. Public Service Agency
Ashley Silcock, Advocate, Disability Alliance B.C.
Jewelles Smith, NEADS' B.C. Director.
Consultant, Financial Literacy, Vancity (speaker to be announced)

Register online here:

Go to the event page for further details:


People First of Canada

New User Friendly Web Site

People First of Canada (PFC) is excited to announce the launch of its new website this week.  The new website can be found at the same link as the old website:

The website features a clean new user friendly design that will allow users to navigate the website easily.  There are also a number of new features to increase the accessibility of the site.

One of the noticeable changes to the site has been the integration of social media and other communications tools into the website itself.  Please tell all your friends!  While you are enjoying our new website, please also take a minute to "Like" our  Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. 

Thank you for your interest in and support for People First of Canada's work.  Please enjoy learning more about PFC and our work promoting disability rights around the world at our new site and don't hesitate to share this exciting news with others.

Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada

Friends and partners of TVAC,

It’s a start! Thank you for your support and participation in our “RIGHT THE WRONG” national campaign

The ultimate goal of our RIGHT THE WRONG national campaign is to ensure that the Canadian born Thalidomide survivors can age with dignity.  YOUR VOICE, YOUR PARTICIPATION can make a difference!

Please get involved by "liking" the Facebook page  - but also by going to the website and signing the petition and using our easy "email your MP" form. You can also help by spreading the word. Tell your friends and family - every signature, email, tweet and post is important.

PLEASE take a moment to watch our awareness video on the state of crisis of Canadian thalidomide survivors at .

TVAC wishes to thank Judith, Bernadette and her father, Brigitte, Aline and Josée for their overwhelming testimonies. We also take this opportunity to highlight the courage of all thalidomide survivors!


Making tax time accessible to all Canadians!

Canadians with disabilities and those who live with them know that, over a lifetime, the costs of overcoming barriers can really add up. That’s why the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers credits and benefits for Canadians with disabilities and their caregivers to help offset these costs—from childhood through the school years to the workforce to retirement.

If you have a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions and you are eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC), you may be able to reduce the amount of income tax you pay in a year. You can apply for the DTC by filling out the application, having your disability tax credit form certified by a qualified practitioner, and submitting it to the CRA for approval. You may also be able to transfer any unused parts of this disability amount to another supporting person to reduce his or her federal tax owing.

Making your home accessible is a very important part of living comfortably with a disability. Most individuals can claim the home buyers’ amount for first-time owners, which allows them to claim an amount of $5,000 for the purchase of a qualifying home. However, if you are eligible for the disability amount and you purchased a home to better meet your needs or those of a related eligible individual, you can claim the home buyers’ amount without the home being your first-time at ownership. For more information, visit

Do you care for a child with a disability? If your child is under 18 years old and eligible for the DTC, you may be able to reduce the amount of income tax you pay in a year by claiming the disability amount for a dependant. In addition, if you receive the Canada child tax benefit, you can also receive the child disability benefit, which is a tax-free, monthly benefit for families who care for children under 18 who are eligible for the DTC.

Applying for your Canada child and family benefits is easy using the Apply for child benefits online service through My Account. You may also be eligible for the family caregiver amount of up to $2,058 in 2014, in calculating certain non-refundable tax credits. If your child is registered in a physical activity or artistic program, you may be able to claim an additional $500 on top of the regular amount under the children’s fitness tax credit and the children’s arts tax credit.  In addition, under proposed changes, the maximum amount of eligible expenses for the fitness tax credit has been increased to $1,000 for each child.

For long-term financial planning, the registered disability savings plan (RDSP) helps reduce financial worries for those who are eligible for the DTC and their loved ones. In particular, the RDSP helps parents and others contribute up to $200,000 for the long-term financial security of a person who is eligible for the DTC. To find out more, go to

The purchase and use of supports and support services like talking textbooks, job coaching services, and braille note taker devices are eligible expenses that you may be able to claim as part of the disability supports deduction. These expenses must have been incurred as a result of your being employed or carrying on a business, conducting research based on a grant, or attending an educational institution.

New for 2014—if you are eligible for the DTC you may be able to claim the salary amount associated with the design of a personalized therapy plan, as a medical expense. Also new this year, you can claim the costs for service animals used to manage severe diabetes. To get more information, including a list of other medical expenses that are eligible, go to

The CRA website has a dedicated section to persons with disabilities and the specific tax scenarios that may affect them. Go to, where you will find information on how to determine if you may be eligible for the DTC.

The CRA prides itself on making its services accessible to all Canadians. If you are blind or partially sighted, the CRA offers publications and forms in alternative formats—such as braille, large print, etext, and MP3 audio. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use teletypewriter services by calling 1-800-665-0354. Or, with your written permission, the CRA will speak to an operator-assisted relay service for you or arrange to have a sign language interpreter available at a meeting. Call 1-800-959-8281 for more information.

If you need help filing your income tax and benefit return, have a modest income, and a simple tax situation, contact the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, which runs volunteer tax clinics across the country. To find a volunteer tax preparation clinic, go to

Remember, the deadline to file your individual income tax and benefit return and pay any amount owing is April 30, 2015—don't wait!

Don’t miss the latest CRA news or tax tips—follow the CRA on Twitter: @CanRevAgency

New products from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability

On December 3, 2014, Statistics Canada released four new products from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability:
a fact sheet on mental health-related disabilities among Canadians aged 15 years and older (catalogue no. 89-654-X2014002);
a fact sheet on learning disabilities among Canadians aged 15 years and older (catalogue no. 89-654-X2014003);
an article on persons with disabilities and employment (catalogue no. 75-006-X); and
data tables on employment characteristics of Canadians aged 15 years and older with a disability (CANSIM tables 115-0005 and 115-0007 to 115-0013).

An overview of these products is available in The Daily, Statistics Canada’s official release bulletin (see Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012 and Study: Persons with disabilities and employment).

Accessible travel kiosks will remove barriers and increase independence

A new standard in the Canadian Transportation Agency's amended Code of practice: Removing Communication Barriers for Travellers with Disabilities introduces automated self-service travel kiosks designed for people with disabilities at airports, railway and ferry terminals.

The standard stipulates that newly installed kiosks used for such things as self-service ticketing, check in and related functions should be accessible to people with disabilities starting December 31, 2016, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that 25 percent of kiosks are accessible by December 31, 2022.

The two-year implementation period gives manufacturers time to design, test and produce kiosks which feature updated hardware and software accessibility standards. The standards address issues such as height, position of monitors, touch screen functions, audio accessories, document readers, and warning tones.

The standard applies to airports within the National Airports System linking Canada from coast to coast, Canadian air carriers that operate aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats, rail carriers and terminals serving 10,000 or more passengers yearly and ferry operators and terminals in respect of vessels of 1,000 gross tonnes or more between provinces or between Canada and the United States every year.

The 25-per-cent minimum applies to each service area – any public location within an airport, rail or ferry terminal where a cluster of kiosks has been installed. If there is only one kiosk, it must be accessible.

The Canadian standards are in line with the latest U.S. Department of Transportion rule. This harmonization will provide greater predictability and consistency across North America for travellers with disabilities.

The standard was developed based on input received during consultations with the Agency's Accessibility Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives from associations representing persons with disabilities, major Canadian airlines, passenger railways, ferries, as well as with air industry stakeholders and the Canadian Airports Council.

“Persons with disabilities have a right to access automated self-service kiosks independently, safely and securely,” said Geoff Hare, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency. “Our experience has shown that the Agency's voluntary standards approach is effective in increasing the accessibility of the federal transportation network for persons with disabilities.”