Canadians with Disabilities Call for Action, Not More Study

For Immediate Release

Wednesday October 19, 2005

( Ottawa - ON) - A coalition of national organizations today called on federal and provincial Ministers of Social Services to take immediate steps to invest in disability supports for Canadians with disabilities and their families. Disability supports are those goods or services that enable citizens with disabilities to get jobs, go to school, live independently and participate fully in their communities. The current system prevents persons with disabilities from accessing these supports, leading to a cycle of exclusion and poverty.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres (CAILC) and the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) identified the need for an immediate downpayment to reverse this trend. Over the past 25 years (see background), dozens of major reports have been written identifying disability supports as a major barrier to change. Today:

  • 56.5% of persons with disabilities are currently unemployed or out of the labour market;
  • persons with disabilities face levels of poverty almost twice that of persons without disabilities;
  • two-thirds of Canadian adults with disabilities lack one or more of the educational, workplace, aids, home modification or other supports they need;
  • slightly more than half of Canadian children with disabilities do not have access to needed aids and devices.

Marie White, CCD National Chairperson, noted, " These statistics are simply unacceptable for any group living in a G8 country and an inclusive society like Canada. 2006 marks the 25 th anniversary of Obstacles, a major Parliamentary report that was to bring fundamental change. We've had years of study and we don't need any more to tell us what persons with disabilities need. "

The FPT Ministers of Social Services begin meeting today in Ottawa. On the agenda will be how to move beyond the current inadequate system to find more funding, create better service delivery mechanisms and develop a long-term disability agenda.

Traci Walters, CAILC National Director, stated that: " The strategy must move beyond the tax system and enhance programme spending. The tax system is a limited vehicle for making the systemic change that is needed and we cannot abide by more of the same. The FPT Ministers of Social Services have a chance to do something different, to make true change in the day-to-day lives of persons with disabilities."

Zuhy Sayeed, CACL President, stated, "A long-term strategy must be linked to an investment, in the short-term, in disability supports. We must confront the poverty of persons with disabilities and their families and reject the exiling of persons with disabilities to welfare systems that are both inadequate and inappropriate. We need income and supports that lift people out of poverty."

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For further information please contact:

Laurie Beachell, CCD
Tel: 204-947-0303

Traci Walters, CAILC
Tel: 613-563-2581, ext. 16 or 613-323-5290

Michael Bach, CACL
Cell: 416-209-7942