Chairperson's Update: January 2009

January 2009
31 Days and 16 Meetings Later

For lots of folks, January is a month for making resolutions. For CCD, January was a month for meetings.

Meeting #1 Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship (January 6-7 in Winnipeg

Having concluded its first year of work, the entire project team for the research initiative, Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship, met to plan the work for 2009. Researchers will be developing a legal data base, creating a comprehensive demographic profile of people with disabilities living in poverty and developing an analysis of the paths that lead to poverty for people with disabilities.

Meeting #2 Pre-Budget Consultation (January 6, in Montreal)

I shared with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty our National Action Plan priorities (new investments in disability-related supports, initiatives to alleviate poverty, initiatives to create employment, initiatives in support of an accessible and inclusive Canada) and CCD’s recommendations for Budget 2009:

Protect the Vulnerable—Ensure disadvantaged people are not forgotten.

Support Non-profits—Enable the effective contributions only they can do.

Infrastructure Investments—A commitment (with enforcement) to full accessibility.

Training Initiatives—Targets for persons with disabilities.

Tax rates—Reduction of lowest tax rate.

Disability Tax Credit—Refundable for low income Canadians.

Further I recommended that access principles be tied to any and all investments in infrastructure (e.g. social housing, new technology).

CCD’s Press Release pointed out that Budget 2009 delivered to some extent on training, tax reduction, funding to improve access in Federal buildings and measures to improve housing. CCD pointed out that the Budget did nothing to address the poverty of persons with disabilities.

Meetings #3, #4, #5 and #6 Universal Periodic Review (Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax)

John Rae (Toronto), Steve Estey (Ottawa and Halifax), Laurie Beachell and April D’Aubin (Winnipeg) participated in meetings held in preparation for Canada’s review by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Community members helped human rights advocates and government officials brainstorm useful issues that could be addressed with Canada during its February review in Geneva. Some highlights of recommendations made by disability community members:

Ratification of the CRPD and the Optional Protocol.

Reinstatement of an expanded Court Challenges Program.

Regulation of the Federal transportation system for access.

Public policy for Aboriginal persons with disabilities to be designed by them.

Appropriate supports for persons with disabilities.

Mandatory access by persons with disabilities to public spaces.

Make DTC refundable.

Make elections more accessible, particularly for blind Canadians.

Meeting #7 CCD Transportation Committee

On January 14, 2009, the CCD Transportation Committee met by conference call to discuss matters relating to the implementation of CTA decisions in the One Person/One Fare case and the Robin East case, which addressed the provision of adequate space for service animals by air carriers. The Committee agreed to monitor implementation by the airlines.

Meetings #8 and #9 End Exclusion

We held two conference call meetings on End Exclusion. On January 16, 2009, CCD and CACL held discussions about the possibility of holding End Exclusion 2009 with a focus on poverty and human rights. It was agreed that both organizations would seek approval from their boards of directors for another event. (CCD’s National Council gave this approval on January 24, 2009.) CCD and CACL staff also met to plan improvements to the End Exclusion web site.

Meeting #10 CCD Human Rights Committee Conference Call

On January 21, 2009, the CCD Human Rights Committee met by conference call to finalize the affidavit in the Brown case, which challenges the inadequate accommodation which was developed for the York Steps in Ottawa by the National Capital Commission and Public Works Canada. CCD is seeking to intervene in the appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal. If granted, CCD’s intervention would focus on explaining the important points in the VIA Rail case, because the Federal Court misinterpreted many important aspects of the decision. CCD seeks to preserve the integrity of the VIA victory and does not want it diminished.

Meeting #11 with ILRC Winnipeg—Lights! Camera! Action!

On January 21, 2009, Jim Derksen, Laurie Beachell and April D’Aubin met with Doug Lockhart and Marie-Lynn Hamilton to discuss the production of a short video, featuring Jim Derksen discussing the National Action Plan. CCD will produce approximately four more videos focusing on key elements of our Action Plan as the Winnipeg Foundation granted us project funding for this work. With this funding, CCD will promote its message through YouTube.

Meeting #12 with HRSDC Representatives (Ottawa)

Laurie Beachell and I met with SDDP officials on January 23, 2009 to discuss new initiatives to be undertaken by the Department. In particular we discussed the importance of a closer working relationship with the Office of Disability Issues (ODI), designed to support the community in its efforts to move forward on an accessible and inclusive Canada. There will be a new call by HRSDC for project submissions in the coming weeks.

Meeting #13 CCD Council (Ottawa)

The CCD Council met in Ottawa on January 24 and 25, 2009. In summary, the Council agreed to undertake work on a number of key issues including immigration, the Copyright Act, an October 1st, 2009 End Exclusion event. Council had a number of presentations from Library and Archives Canada, Rob Rainer of NAPO, and Executive and Council member Claredon Robicheau on a rural transportation model pioneered in Nova Scotia.