Annual Report: 1998-1999

Making Change Work for Us

Submitted by Eric Norman

The statesmen who planned the Canadian union were very much aware that one of the causes of the American Civil War was the weakness of the Federal Government in comparison to the strength of the States. The Fathers of Confederation determined not to make that mistake. That was one reason for a strong Federal Government of Canada. Another was the fact that many Canadians were very much afraid of what the American armies would do now that the Civil War was over if they turned north to Canada it was necessary that the new Federal Government would have all the power needed to maintain the security of the new country.

So, from the beginning, Canada had a strong central federal government. Over the past years that has been dramatically changing. Powers held by, or assumed by, the Federal Government, have been rapidly devolving to the provinces. On the other side, federal power is being lost through what has been called the process of globalization.

While the Federal Government held its powerful position it was relatively easy for CCD to identify its role, and know the routes to take in seeking wide ranging changes in social policy throughout Canada. Once Ottawa was on side, the provinces more or less had to follow in most of the areas which affected the well being of people with disabilities.

Now the situation has changed, and is changing daily. It is no longer sufficient to seek understanding and agreement in Ottawa. CCD will continue to do that, but there is another arena of decision making which involves provincial and territorial as well as federal representatives. And they meet at irregular times, in many different parts of the country. CCD can't be prepared and present for al these diverse and scattered decision making forums. Thus it becomes more and more necessary for CCD to hold a coordinating role, an information providing role, and for the provincial affiliate and the national members to be prepared and able to have an impact on these decision making meetings, wherever they may be held. That's a change which CCD recognized some time ago, and has been working to make effective so that we can come more closely and quickly to achieving our goals.

In this new situation it has become more necessary than ever before for CCD to be proactive, to take initiatives and move first on issues which are important to us. We have done this in developing the discussion papers on a Canadians with Disabilities Act. It has also become imperative that the Provincial Member Groups and CCD maintain a consensus on what the larger goals are, and share information quickly with each other so that strategies and tactics can be agreed upon. It is only in this way that our community can advance its proposals and raise its profile generally with governments.

This is a more difficult way of doing business. But we are learning to do it, and to do it well. Already we have some successes, which we can celebrate. But there are some areas which still cause us some concern, and which we must watch so that when the opportunity arises we can have the kind of coordinated impact which is needed to make the desired difference. And we can have that impact. One thing I have noticed is that in our community there is no great concern about who gets the credit for any particular accomplishment. With a situation like that a great deal can be accomplished, for the same cannot be said for decision makers at any level of government.

Our Committees must continue to draw on the expertise across the country, from the Provincial Member Groups as well as the National Organizations, as they continue to promote the positions and advance the cases of so many diverse issues. Many of our voices are being heard in many forums. We are working toward a time when government officials, at whatever level, when pondering decisions or changes in regulations or legislation, will routinely consider the position of the organizations of people with disabilities. So where things might come out we don't know, but we do know we will be in the middle of it.

We have come a long way in this process of change over the past few years. We have learned to survive, and to adapt to the new world of politics. In the process we have come closer together with other organizations in a sense of cooperation and collaboration. That will continue to stand us in good stead.

Other reports in this document will provide details of activity in the many areas in which CCD has been involved. Of special interest is the work related to the Social Union proposals, In Unison document, and the work done jointly with others on a proposed National Strategy for the Federal Government. Any information which members may wish to have related to CCD work is available from the Winnipeg office.

On a personal note, I want to thank the Executive, the Committee Chairs and Members. I also want to acknowledge the assistance and excellent work of the Winnipeg office and especially of our National Coordinator. A strong membership is the essence of effectiveness, and I would like to acknowledge the advice and assistance which has come from the Council, and from the CCD membership generally.

Submitted by

Eric Norman
National Chairperson

National Coordinator's Report

Submitted by Laurie Beachell

The work of CCD continues to be challenging and exciting. The shift in how social policy is developed in Canada is considerable and CCD struggles along with many other national associations to determine how best we might have impact. With the signing of the Social Union Agreement by all provinces but Quebec, we have truly moved into a new era. The Social Union Agreement is seen by some within our movement as an abdication of federal responsibility of the citizenship rights of all Canadians. Others while not disagreeing with this assessment approach the issue pragmatically and ask what gains can our community achieve under the new agreement.

Certainly CCD has always upheld principle, it has also while doing so, found ways of consistently moving the issues of Canadians with disabilities forward. The Social Union Agreement is in fact very similar in nature to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Certainly the Social Union Agreement does not have the weight of law but frankly the Charter guarantees have seldom been realized for our community. The Social Union Agreement is a similar instrument. Its principle statements of "equality for all Canadians, mobility rights, etc." are great but how do we get then acted upon.

It is a continual frustration within our community that all express good will but few actually undertake good acts. The "curse" of the community is that is it hard to identify the "enemy". Every time confronted the "enemy" mouths some sort of expression of willingness to address our issues or regret that they could not have done more. After working for CCD for 15 years this is the most frustrating aspect, we educate, inform and present our views, only to find general support for what we propose but then six months later there is no follow up action.

The Social Union Agreement expires in another two years. Our challenge is to make use of it while it exists. The provinces and the federal government wish to show that it can be a vehicle for social policy development in Canada. We should seize the opportunity that the good will towards the issues of persons with disabilities affords for disability issues to become the "experiment" to show that progress can be achieved. Our issues could be the demonstration of the potential of the Social Union Agreement and it may be possible that a new initiative can be defined.

As we try to move our issues forward within the Social Union context two things must be remembered: we must ensure that the federal government remains responsible for the citizenship rights of Canadians with disabilities, at the same time we must recognize that to make a significant impact upon the day to day lives of persons with disabilities we need action at the local and provincial level. It is finding mechanisms for advancement that recognize the above that is the challenge we currently face.

I enjoy the work at CCD and appreciate the support of the Board, Committee members and the staff. Thank you.

Submitted by

Laurie Beachell
National Coordinator

In Celebration of Allan Simpson's Contribution to CCD

Allan Simpson


Allan Simpson left a mark on the organizational landscape of Canada which will be visible for many decades. While Allan was never one to draw attention to his contributions, some long over due recognition came his way when in October of 1998 he was inducted into the Order of Canada by the Governor General of Canada. When a reception was organized in Winnipeg to celebrate Allan's investiture into the Order, Allan insisted that other Manitobans with disabilities who had also received the Order share the stage with him. This emphasis on the community of persons with disabilities, rather than individual accomplishment, was a defining characteristic of Allan's career in the disability rights movement.

"Allan was the greatest strategist there ever was," states Irene Feika, a former Chairperson of CCD. "When the meetings were finished, then he began his real work. He would come up to you and say 'Let's develop some strategies on this,' and you knew the real work was just starting. He was tireless and did the work of ten." continues Ms. Feika. Indeed that there is an international cross disability movement of persons with disabilities is attributable in large measure to Allan's acumen as a strategist.

As former CCD Chairperson Jim Derksen points out, "By using the opportunities presented to him by society at large, Allan really catalyzed and initialized four different kinds of organizations." His work on disability participation in the 1967 Pan Am Games sparked the development of wheelchair sports organizations in Canada and throughout the Americas. In the Seventies to the mid-eighties, his work focused on the development of self-representational cross disability organizations at the local, provincial, national and international levels. During the Eighties, Allan worked to develop the network of Independent Living Centers across Canada and in the Nineties, through the work of the Independent Living Foundation, ensured that the Canadian public had the opportunity to learn about disability issues and the disability movement from the award winning television show 'Moving On' and its forerunner, 'D-Net' ". Because of all the interesting and heated discussions that Allan and I had together and the support he provided, I am now working to establish an Independent Living Resource Center in Montreal," states Lucie Lemieux-Brassard, CCD's Treasurer.

In the Seventies, inspired by the activities of other civil rights movements, people with disabilities were also busy organizing groups to eliminate barriers to full and equal participation. Allan set the ball rolling for the development of a national movement of people with disabilities by inviting representatives with disabilities from Saskatchewan and Alberta to the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities' first conference. The participants agreed that a western alliance of disabled people's organizations was worth considering and agreed to a future meeting. As Percy Wickman, CCD's second Chairperson remembers, "Our founding meeting took place in a Regina hotel, attended by a small number of disabled people, including Allan Simpson, the godfather of the Manitoba movement...Our goal was to form a western alliance of provincial organizations of handicapped groups." Eventually the Coalition of Provincial Organizations of the Handicapped, which was later to become CCD, was formed as a national group. Allan was the organization's third chairperson from 1979-1982. Allan did much of the behind the scenes organizing which led to the eventual formation of Disabled Peoples' International.

Allan was involved in many watershed events at CCD. He was responsible for establishing CCD's first office and hiring its first National Coordinator, Jim Derksen. He organized CCD's first door-to-door campaign on Parliament Hill. Jim Derksen remembers, "This was ground breaking work. M.P.s were astounded to see people with disabilities representing our own issues." It was Allan who pioneered CCD's Challenge Ballot campaign which polled federal political candidates during election campaigns on their positions on disability issues and then publicized the results in the media. This technique has been adopted by many equality seeking communities. "One of the things that I most remember about Allan was that he worked tenaciously to uphold his principles--independent living, consumer control, the right of a person with a disability to take risks, self-determination," states Eric Norman, CCD Chairperson.

While Allan went on to become a key leader in other groups and movements, he always made himself available to CCD and participated actively in various CCD committees over the years and represented the organization on numerous different occasions. Allan was one of the founding members of CCD's Social Policy Working Group and through this body he urged the maintenance of the federal role in upholding national standards, particularly on disability issues. "One of Allan's roles in the Social Policy Working Group was to ensure that we focused on the needs of all Canadians with disabilities both from the have and the have not provinces," states Michael Huck, Chairperson of the CCD Social Policy Working Group and the first chairperson of CCD. "Allan would not deviate from national standards. He was always prepared to fight for this issue. He was never tired, where others might have been," remembers Angelo Nikias. "He had a strong commitment to his issues and his philosophy and although I did not always agree with him, I always respected his commitment and his thinking. I found it reassuring that Allan was always an integral member of the disability rights leadership. He will be missed greatly," added Mr. Nikias.

Prior to becoming employed as the Managing Director of the Winnipeg Independent Living Resource Center, Allan worked for Monarch Life as an actuary. When Allan was appointed to the Canada Pension Plan Advisory Committee he used this training to the community's benefit, as he took every opportunity to debunk government claims that the CPP Disability Benefit was responsible for problems with the Canada Pension Plan. Allan steadfastly refused to allow anyone to scapegoat the community of persons with disabilities. For Allan, people with disabilities were always first and foremost citizens. "Allan was present at all the major turns in the road for the development of the disability movement. His ideological perspective was crystal clear and while his tactical mind would constantly look for the best angle to advance an issue, his personal credibility, principles, honesty were such that he never lost the respect of those he needed as allies," states John Lane, a member of CCD's International Committee and a former Executive Director of the Manitoba Division of the Canadian Paraplegic Association.

For people within CCD, the memory of Allan Simpson floods our individual and collective consciousness with a variety of concepts, sounds, and images; because he was one of those larger than life personalities who touched us all in a large variety of ways. Allan's motorized chair had its signature sound and for some of us whenever we hear that particular note we still expect to see Allan coming wheeling around the corner. At the last meeting of the CCD Social Policy Working Group, more than one participant stated, "I am going to make this point--usually around national standards--because I know if Allan were here he would be making it." The symbol of a kite now brings forth many images of Allan; because in recent years an ardent proponent of kite flying through his work with the Winnipeg ILRC's Family Kite Festival, a fund raiser.

In addition to his work in the community of persons with disabilities, Allan was involved in many other communities as well. He was active in his church, in his neighborhood and had a wide circle of friends. On the personal side, he had a strong family life with his wife Clare, who is CCD's Comptroller, daughters Julie and Katherine and many members of his extended family. "That he was a family man gave a lot of people with disabilities courage that they too could have a family," states Francine Arsenault, a former Chairperson of CCD.

Shortly before his death, Allan participated with his grandmother on a radio interview discussing issues relating to the fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities, such as Do Not Resuscitate Orders. Allan was an out spoken advocate on fundamental human rights issues and strongly urged CCD to endorse policies which support disabled people's right to be alive. He was one of

the first within our organization to oppose assisted suicide. Personal experiences with hospitalized friends had taught Allan that the devaluation of disability is so great within the medical system that there is a tendency to encourage people with disabilities to accept an easy and comfortable death rather than vigorously pursue aggressive measures to continue life. When his grandmother became hospitalized on a long term basis after an injury, he became her staunch advocate, to ensure that her life was not limited by negative perceptions about her quality of life.

Allan left our movement much too soon and his work was far from done as many barriers continue to limit the full and equal participation of people with disabilities. Because Allan always focused on the development of the community of persons with disabilities and encouraged many people to contribute their gifts to the community's work, the community remains strong, despite his passing, and ready to meet the challenges of the next century.

CCD Awards 1998/1999

British Columbia Coalition of Persons with Disabilities - Jill Weiss
Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities - Doreen Gyorkos
Saskatchewan Voice of People with Disabilities - Ron Johnson
Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities - Don Butler
Confédération des organismes provinciaux de personnes handicapées du Québec - Madame Aline Fredette
Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities - Bill Crawford
Prince Edward Island Council of the Disabled - Bryce Sharpe
Consumer Organization of Disabled People of Newfoundland and Labrador - Minnie Vallis
DAWN Canada - Eileen O'Brien
Canadian Association of the Deaf - Arthur LeBlanc
National Network for Mental Health - Craig Hurst
People First - Pauline Lynch
Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada - Dan Scheidt
National Educational Association of Disabled Students - Corinne Gough

- Jennison Asuncion

CCD Publications

  • The Latimer Case: The Reflections of People with Disabilities
  • CCD Position on Home Support
  • CCD Tax Reform Positions
  • Income Assistance Case Studies
  • Comparison of Disability-Specific Social Assistance Programs (and Related Programs)
  • Consultation Report on Disability Income Supports and Services Project
  • CCD Presentation for the Opportunities Works Conference March 25-27, 1999
  • CCD Presentation to the Disability and Social Union Roundtable
  • Sub-Committee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities May 6, 1999
  • A Work in Progress A National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities: The Community Definition June 1999

CCD Executive and Members 1998/1999

Eric Norman, Chairperson
Henry Vlug, Vice-Chair
Paul Young, Vice-Chair
Lucie Lemieux-Brassard, Treasurer
Michael Huck, Secretary
Corinne Gough, Member-at-Large

British Columbia Coalition of People with Disabilities, Tom McAulay
DisAbled Women's Network Canada, Kathy Hawkins
Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities, Doreen Gyorkos
Saskatchewan Voice of Persons with Disabilities, Michael Huck
Manitoba League of People with Disabilities Inc., David Martin
Canadian Association of the Deaf, Henry Vlug
National Educational Association of Students, Corinne Gough
The National Network for Mental Health, Constance McKnight
Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada, Randy Warren
People First Canada, Paul Young
Confération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec, Chloé Serradoré
Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities, Linda Stiles
PEI Council of the Disabled, Tony Dolan
Coalition of Persons with Disabilities of Newfoundland and Labrador, Cathy Murphy

CCD Staff

Laurie Beachell, National Coordinator
Clare Simpson, Comptroller
April D'Aubin, Research Analyst
Mel Graham, Communication Officer
Steve Estey, International Development Officer
Terry Zeglen, Administrative Assistant
Julia Vela, Word Processor/Secretary
June Mayo, Receptionist/Administrative Aid