CCD Chairperson's Update: March 2010

Canada Ratifies United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

On 11 March 2010, the Government of Canada pledged to be governed by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the newest international human rights treaty which boldly articulates a human rights framework for addressing the exclusion and lack of access people with disabilities have encountered in Canada and in all societies. Steve Estey, Chairperson of CCD's International Development Committee, was on hand at the United Nations when the Hon. Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, presented the UN Secretary-General with Canada's ratification papers. Also on hand for this historic event were Traci Walters from Independent Living Canada and Anna MacQuarrie and Bendina Miller from the Canadian Association for Community Living. These past few weeks we have been celebrating the Canadian leadership that came to the forefront for the development of the CRPD, but our attention is also fully focused on the domestic agenda of removing barriers that prohibit the full and equal participation of Canadians with disabilities. In this Update, I will relate CCD's most recent barrier removal activities.

Throne Speech (3 March)

When the Members of Parliament returned to work this month, CCD reminded them of the National Action Plan's measures for addressing critical disability issues: employment, poverty, disability-related supports, citizenship and access and encouraged them to get down to the business of implementation.

Federal Budget (4 March)

CCD reminded Minister of Finance James Flaherty that Canadians with disabilities occupy the lower echelons of Canada's social and economic hierarchy. As such, we are among the most vulnerable Canadians. In its deficit fighting agenda, CCD encouraged the Government of Canada to ensure that Canadians with disabilities are not forgotten or made worse off.

Inaccessible Web Coverage of Olympics and Paralympics Results in Complaint

CCD's National Coordinator Laurie Beachell contacted the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) about the inaccessibility of CTV's streaming video on the broadcaster's Olympic/Paralympic web site. The CRTC accepted this as a complaint and has asked CTV to respond. CCD's member group Citizens With Disabilities Ontario originally alerted CCD to the numerous barriers on the CTV web site for the users of screen readers. Representatives of the Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD) shared information with CCD about the closed captioning inadequacies of CTV's Olympic/Paralympic coverage.

CRTC Advisory Committee

On 30 March 2010, Laurie Beachell participated in the CRTC video conference about the establishment of a CRTC Advisory Committee to address disability issues. Laurie made CCD's case for the adoption of access regulations that would prevent and remove barriers in the field of telecommunications.

Human Rights Experts Meet in Ottawa

Pat Danforth, a member of CCD's Human Rights Committee, participated in an experts meeting held by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The Commission was seeking input on the critical issues facing people with disabilities in Canada. The Commission will be using this information as it works on developing a proactive response to selected disability issues.

Registered Disability Savings Plan

On 12 March 2010, Laurie Beachell met with representatives from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) to discuss how to better inform Canadians with disabilities about the Registered Disability Savings Plan. The disability community, itself, has developed YouTube videos which are informing the community about how the RDSP can help people with disabilities save for a more financially secure future.

Immigration Concerns

Once again, immigration was on the agenda. Families with deaf children have been consulting CCD about the barriers that they have been encountering when they try to immigrate to Canada.

Canada at 150

From 26 - 28 March 2010, members of the Liberal Party of Canada met in Montreal to look at what policies Canada will need to adopt to meet the challenges of 2017. Prior to the Liberal Conference, CCD wrote to all members of the Liberal Caucus and presented to them the components of the disability community's National Action Plan.

Caron Case Intervention

This month, CCD filed its intervention in the Caron case. This case is about the court's ability to award interim costs to under-resourced parties in a court action. Interim costs can be very important in cases such as the VIA Rail case, where CCD was pitted in a legal battle again VIA Rail, a crown corporation with deep pockets.