CCD Chairperson's Update - December 2015

The New Year:  What's Coming Up for CCD

This Update, provides a recap of major issues CCD addressed during 2015 and takes a look at what likely will be hot topics in 2016.

Intervening on Assisted Suicide

CCD intervened in the Carter case, sharing our concerns with the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) about how the legalization of assisted suicide would put people with disabilities at risk.  In February 2015, when the SCC ruled in favour of assisted suicide in Carter v. Canada, CCD alerted Canadians about the need to develop safeguards to prevent vulnerable people from being coerced to accept an assisted suicide.  In June, our Ending of Life Ethics Committee, which is co-chaired by Rhonda Wiebe and Dean Richert, engaged the CCD National Council of Representatives in a conversation about specific safeguards to reduce vulnerability. CCD shared the results of that conversation with the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying and the federal External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada and others.  The conversation on assisted suicide will continue in 2016 and CCD will be speaking out.

Due to provincial jurisdiction of medical practitioners and access to health care, CCD will be counting on the support of our provincial members, and the provincial affiliates of our national members to ensure the voice of Canadians with disabilities is heard at provincial events that will come up over the next year.

Published Findings on Poverty

In 2015, CCD published its first e-book, Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship (DPEC), sharing the findings of its 5-year research alliance, led by Michael J. Prince and Yvonne Peters and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.  Download CCD's e-book from the Kindle, Kobo, I-book stores or from the e-book's webpage (, where a free PDF version is available.  In 2016, CCD will share recommendations from this project with Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, who has been mandated by the Prime Minister to take the lead on the development of a Canadian poverty reduction strategy.

Following-up on Election Commitments

During the election, the Liberal Party made a commitment to CCD to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and opened the door to federal disability legislation.  Legislation is a recognized mechanism for implementing the CRPD.  In Article 4, the CRPD explains 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 …"  In 2016, CCD will be sharing its views on how new federal legislation and other initiatives could contribute to CRPD implementation.


On the 2015 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, CCD convened, at the offices of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, a meeting of 21 disability organizations about Canada’s civil society (or shadow) report to the UN CRPD Committee, which is reviewing Canada's progress on implementing the CRPD.  Participants shared information and concerns that will enhance and strengthen our understanding of the lived experience of Canadians with disabilities and the solutions we want.  Participants agreed that CCD should serve as a secretariat to convene a process to advance the engagement of the disability community with the CRPD Committee throughout its review of Canada. 

Sharing Our Knowledge with Students

As part of a practicum placement, Caitlin Popowich, a University of Winnipeg Disability Studies student, assisted CCD's staff prepare for the CRPD consultation and undertook related research.  "The CRPD is an important legal document - for it is changing thinking: moving from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects” of charity to citizens with rights. The purpose of the CRPD is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their dignity," wrote Ms. Popowich in an article she prepared during her placement.  "People with disabilities can be active members of society, and the CRPD and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities are agents in helping make this a reality. While there are still many barriers in society, we are on our way to becoming an accepting nation. Disability is not an abnormality, but is essentially human," continued Ms. Popowich.

Hosting a practicum student was a new undertaking for CCD.  Carlos Sosa, Secretary/Treasurer, encouraged CCD to provide learning opportunities for students.  In 2016, CCD welcomes a new University of Winnipeg student, Yesenia Garcia, who will be doing her Disability Studies research practicum at CCD.

Keeping CCD Before Key Decision Makers

Our Committee communicated CCD's barrier removal agenda with Government Ministers and federal agencies.  For example, representatives of the Transportation Committee met with Scott Streiner, Chairperson and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency and representatives of the Human Rights Committee met with Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and Keith Smith, Director of the Policy, Research and International Affairs Division, Human Rights Promotion Branch.  The Social Policy Committee has taken a lead on communicating CCD's views to the new Federal cabinet and will continue this work in 2016.

A Year of Changes

2015 was an exceptional year for CCD: we secured multi-year funding, identified people to take on new responsibilities and celebrated the accomplishments of some long-term friends and allies who decided to pursue other interests.  At the June AGM, Council elected MLPD representative Carlos Sosa as Secretary/Treasurer, because former Secretary/Treasurer Anne McPhee had resigned for personal reasons and Council appointed John Rae as the new Chairperson of the Social Policy Committee.  Also in June, James Hicks, our new National Coordinator, joined the CCD staff.  We wished retiring staff members,  Laurie Beachell, National Coordinator, and Clare Simpson, Comptroller, all the best in their future activities. 

CCD's Interchange agreement with the Federal Government concluded in December, which means that Vangelis Nikias, who worked for the last 5 years as CCD's CRPD Project Manager, has returned to the Federal Government.  We thank Vangelis for his contribution to CCD, as he brought unique expertise on the Convention to the organization and we wish him every success in his future projects

CCD Initiates a Strategic Planning Process

In December of 2015, the Executive Committee began a discussion on the need to develop a strategic organizational plan.  Over the next year, we will be working with our members and external stakeholders to help us develop a long-term strategic plan for the organization and its activities.  We will need the support of all our members, funders and friends to help CCD show that the strength of a member based national disability organization is as important today as it has always been.  Watch for more developments and opportunities to ensure that your voice is heard in this important process.

Supporting the Work of CCD

Together we can make Canada an accessible and inclusive country.  CCD is a registered charity and issues tax receipts to donors.  A gift to CCD supports our work to remove barriers and promote the full citizenship of people with disabilities.  Donations can be made to CCD at  (