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This Update shares information on activities of some of CCD's Committees.
The last few months have been quite busy for the CCD Transportation Committee. This report focuses on our work with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), VIA Rail, the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), and the Council of Canadian Academics.
Canadian Transportation Agency
Meeting with CTA CEO - On March 1, 2017, Bob Brown Chairperson of the CCD Transportation Committee, and James Hicks, CCD National Coordinator, met with Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA). Prior to the meeting, a letter was sent to Mr. Streiner which outlined our concern over the long history of CTA inaction in the establishment of accessibility regulations. In the letter, CCD reiterated its longstanding support for measures that will deliver enforceable accessibility regulations, enforce the undue obstacle jurisdiction and prevent new barriers.
Invitation to Attend AAC Meeting - Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency, has invited Bob Brown to attend the next meeting of the Accessibility Advisory Committee, which will take place on June 19, 2017. Mr. Steiner has indicated that the meeting will focus on input received during the CTA's RMI consultations and regulatory change. Prior to the meeting, the CTA will share a report on what they heard during their consultations and information about possible directions for regulatory reform.
The Committee continues to monitor VIA Rail. When VIA Rail requested input on proposed new passenger trains, the Committee sought the opportunity to review VIA accessibility plans. Recalling our experience with VIA's earlier purchase of the inaccessible Renaissance cars which ended in expensive litigation to the Supreme Court, we would like the opportunity to review the plans prior to the purchase of any new cars. We have raised the importance of reviewing these plans with the CTA. All that VIA has offered is the possibility of having a meeting.
ODI sought the Committee's help in identifying people who would be willing to share their experiences as travelers with disabilities with researchers undertaking a study which will help inform the development of accessibility legislation.
Council of Canadian Academics
The Transportation Committee provided input to the Council of Canadian Academics, which was undertaking research about how well the Canadian transportation system meets the needs of an aging population.
Lynette Griffin of the Canadian Urban Transit Association's Accessible Transportation Committee has been reaching out to the CCD Transportation Committee so that the two committees can exchange information. A conference call meeting is being set up.
Human Rights Committee
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the National Association of Women and the Law led a group of over 75 national, provincial and local organisations calling on the Canadian government to reaffirm the historic mandate of the Court Challenges Program to protect and advance substantive equality and access to justice for historically disadvantaged groups and official-language minority communities in Canada. In a March 13, 2017 letter was sent to the Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly from the CCD, along with the Indigenous Bar Association, the National Association of Women and the Law, Amnesty International, and la Fédération des femmes du Québec, among numerous other organizations. A meeting with the Minister is being sought.
Social Policy Committee Update
The Social Policy Committee met on March 9, 2017. It dealt with a number of issues: immigration, access to the electoral process, Parks Canada, the Federal poverty reduction strategy, and housing.
Most of the meeting concentrated on preparing for the March 24th meeting with federal officials focused on the “excessive demands” clause in the immigration act. CCD has been seeking to eliminate ableist barriers in the immigration system that prevent people with disabilities from immigrating to Canada because it is assumed that they will use more than the average amount of health and social services. There is no recognition of the contributions that these immigrants would make to Canada. Over the years, barriers that have prevented other minority groups from immigrating to Canada have been removed but this has not been the case for people with disabilities.
The Committee has been monitoring the work of the Federal Minister of Democratic Institutions. A meeting with the Minister has been requested but the Minister has not set a date to meet with CCD. Of particular interest is Bill C-33 (An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts).
John Rae attended the Minister's Roundtable on Parks Canada. Following the Roundtable, a brief, titled "Collaboration: The Key to Access and Inclusion" was submitted to the Let's Talk Parks, Canada consultation. One of the key recommendations was that "Parks Canada should develop a collaborative, ongoing working relationship with the CCD and other organizations of persons with disabilities in the disability community, similar to the close relationships currently in place with Indigenous communities."
During the Committee meeting, members made plans to address the Federal Poverty Reduction Strategy and housing in the coming months.
In April, John Rae, Committee Chairperson, will make a presentation to the Canadian Dental Association.
The Committee has been active in the work of the Alliance for an Inclusive and Accessible Canada Project. Committee members have become involved in various Alliance Committees. Barry McMahon chairs the Alliance Committee, which consists of all Alliance Members and Partners. NAIA Committee members Frank Folino, Gregor Wolbring and John Rae are participating on the Alliance Committee. While Barry was away on vacation, John Rae chaired the Alliance meetings. Frank Folino and John Rae are also serving on the Stakeholder Engagement Committee. Barry McMahon served on the Hiring/Recruitment Committee for the Project Manager.
Due to the time constraints in Phase I, it was not possible to circulate all Alliance materials to the NAIA Committee for input. A process for preparing Alliance documents is being developed, so in Phase II the Committee will have a greater opportunity to have input into Alliance documents.
During the project's first phase, 6 pilot consultations were held:
• Saint John, New Brunswick- Facilitated by Jeff Sparks (Muscular Dystrophy Canada). Public Consultation and Discussion Group (Youth with Disabilities).
• North Bay, Ontario – Facilitated by Ellen Cohen (NNMH), Marcia Yale (AEBC), Thomas Simpson (CNIB). Public Consultation and Discussion Group (Transportation).
• Brandon, Manitoba – Facilitated by Shelley Fletcher (PFC), April D'Aubin (CCD). Public Consultation and Discussion Group (Intellectual Disabilities).
The Alliance submitted its Phase I report to ESDC on March 17.
The Alliance is planning to have its second face-to face meeting early in April to plan Phase II of the project. The first planning meeting was held early in January in Toronto. During the second phase there will be more public consultations and discussion groups, as well as online and teleconference consultations.
The Alliance is active on social media. Check out the Alliance's Facebook page and twitter feed, which Norah Myers, CCD's Research and Communications Assistant, has been helping to curate. You will be able to find out about the activities of Phase II by monitoring our social media platforms.
The NAIA Committee developed a briefing sheet to help with the cross-country federal consultations. It will also be useful for people participating in the Alliance's Phase II consultations.
The Committee met on February 23, 2017.
During the meeting, the Committee focused primarily on the CRPD.
CRPD – Steve Estey provided an update on the development of the disability community's parallel report. He reported that the report was nearing completion and would be submitted to the CRPD by their deadline of February 27. Steve observed that the development of the report involved working with non-traditional allies, for instance the LGBT community, indigenous communities; and Canada without Poverty, which is submitting a report related to poverty and persons with disabilities. Overall, the process illustrates the importance of using a human rights framework to engage a range of stakeholders.