Federal Legislation to Implement UN Disability Rights Convention: Nothing About Us Without Us

Media Release

September 9, 2015 | For Immediate Release

Building on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), supported by all political parties and jurisdictions, and given that Canadians with disabilities continue to experience barriers and discrimination, the Government of Canada must take new and concrete action to implement the CRPD.  "For this to occur, legislation at the federal level and federal leadership at the inter-jurisdictional level are necessary," states Tony Dolan, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national organization that sent representatives to the UN to help develop the CRPD, which articulates how to ensure human rights are realized in the context of disability.  "Consequently, CCD is seeking a commitment from all federal parties on legislation for fulfilling Canada's CRPD obligations."

Legislation is a recognized mechanism for implementing the CRPD.  In Article 4, the CRPD explains that countries shall "(a) … adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention; [and] (b) … take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to … abolish existing laws … and practices that constitute discrimination against persons with disabilities …"  "CCD would welcome new federal legislation that kick-starts Canada's fulfillment of its CRPD obligations," states John Rae, CCD's Second Vice Chair.

During an election campaign, Canadians explore new policy options.  "In this campaign a Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA) is getting attention.  We always support progressive and forward looking legislation.  However, for any proposed CDA to deliver upon the commitments made in the CRPD, it would need to go beyond voluntary guidelines and public awareness," states Rae. "Any new legislation focusing on improving inclusion and access for Canadians with disabilities, such as the proposed CDA, would need to address transportation, telecommunications, banking, accessible democracy, employment of persons with disabilities and issues affecting girls and women with disabilities."

"CCD has researched how legislation could most effectively promote the human rights of people with disabilities," states Dolan.  "We found that to achieve barrier removal federal legislation would need to create new mechanisms with real teeth, such as a Disability and Inclusion Commissioner reporting directly to Parliament." CCD's paper, "A Federal Disability Act: Opportunities and Challenges: Contributing to the Dialogue" by Phyllis Gordon outlines a model legislative framework. 

"During the drafting stage of the CRPD, people with disabilities were integrally involved.  NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US was the philosophy that guided the CRPD's development and CCD urges all Canadian political parties to commit to the same approach in developing new legislation for ensuring the full enjoyment of our human rights, and implementation of Canada's CRPD obligations," states Dolan.

"In addition and given the often shared responsibilities between the federal and provincial/territorial governments, the federal government must provide proactive leadership in establishing inter-jurisdictional mechanisms to implement the CRPD, always in consultation with Canadians with disabilities," states Dolan.  "Thus, CCD calls upon the federal parties to inform the disability community how they will work collaboratively with the provinces/territories and the disability community to advance compliance with the CRPD."


For more information contact:

Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson, Tel: 902-626-1752 (cell).
James Hicks, National Coordinator, Tel: 343-291-1118.
John Rae, CCD Second Vice Chair, Tel: 416-941-1547.

About CCD - CCD is a national organization of people with disabilities that works for an accessible and inclusive Canada.