Government Research Supports the Call for New Investments to Advance the Citizenship of Persons with Disabilities

For Immediate Release

January 12, 2005
Winnipeg - MB
Toronto - ON

A woman with a disability brutally attacked and stabbed on the streets of Montreal; A woman with a disability found dead, along with her elderly parents, after an apparently intentional carbon monoxide poisoning; young people with disabilities trapped in Nursing Homes. What do these stories, and the countless others from across the country, have in common? The increased vulnerability and isolation that comes with having a disability. Too often, the shared experience of persons with disabilities and their families is one of segregation and isolation, denial of needed supports and one of increased vulnerability to violence and abuse.

In response to this reality and recent reports issued by the Government of Canada, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) and the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) are issuing a call for action by the federal government to move forward in addressing the poverty and exclusion of persons with disabilities and their families. Despite some progress in the past twenty years, it is clear that the vision of full citizenship for persons with disabilities and their families is not being realized.

With broad public support on side and building momentum at all levels of government, the disability community believes NOW is the time for action. In advance of the Federal Budget 2005, CCD and CACL are calling on the federal government to display principled and committed leadership in realizing their commitment in the October 2004 Speech From the Throne to be a steadfast advocate of inclusion. The denial of basic citizenship and the continued exclusion of persons with disabilities is unacceptable.

Recent research has again indicated that persons with disabilities are not having their needs adequately met and that it is time to find new solutions. Further, recent surveys have shown that the Canadian public is widely supportive of investments to advance and promote the full inclusion and active citizenship of persons with disabilities and their families.

On December 03, 2004, the International Day of the Disabled, the Government of Canada released three new reports pertaining to disability issues. From Social Development Canada's Office for Disability Issues (ODI), Advancing the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, reviews the past commitments to persons with disabilities by the Government of Canada and reiterates the need for action on access to disability-related supports. Also from ODI, a study by Environics, Canadian Attitudes Towards Disability Issues: 2004 Benchmark Survey, clearly shows that 80% of Canadians agree with the statement that "persons with even the most challenging disabilities should be supported by public funds to live in the community rather than in institutional settings." Lastly, a report commissioned by the federal/provincial/territorial Ministers Responsible for Social Services and conducted by the Canadian Council on Social Development, Supports and Services for Adults and Children Age 5-14 in Canada: An Analysis of Needs and Gaps, dramatically illustrates that the support needs of Canadians with disabilities are not being met and that Canadians with disabilities face disproportionate rates of poverty and exclusion.

The research supports what the disability community has been saying - persons with disabilities need new investments and new solutions must be developed to address disability issues. On December 15, 2004, the Technical Advisory Committee to Ministers of Finance and Revenue on Tax Measures for Persons with Disabilities released its report Disability tax Fairness. The report contains valuable recommendations that, if implemented, will address issues of inequity in the existing tax system and some of the unmet disability-related costs. Its major strength is in moving the disability agenda further with the recognition of the limitations of the tax system in effectively addressing the poverty facing persons with disabilities and their families and the need for affordable and accessible disability supports. And, on December 20, 2004, the Standing Committee on Finance released a report, Moving Forward: Balancing Priorities and Making Choices for the Economy of the Twenty-First Century. The report stems from the 2004 pre-budget consultations undertaken by the Standing Community on Finance and calls for a federal/provincial/territorial national disability strategy and a labour market agreement.

It is time for innovative and creative investments in persons with disabilities and their families to provide long-term solutions to disability issues. The federal government needs to work collaboratively and cross-departmentally to make true and lasting change in the lives of persons with disabilities and their families.

CCD and CACL have developed A Call to Combat Poverty and Exclusion of Canadians with Disabilities by Investing in Disability Supports that outlines our vision of a phased set of initiatives necessary to advance the inclusion of persons with disabilities. This vision identifies first steps for the short and medium term, and seeks support for an engagement process that will define the long-term agenda. The brochure is available on our websites at: and

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For More Information Contact:

Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator, 204-947-0303, or
Michael Bach, CACL Executive Vice-President, 416-661-9611