A Voice of Our Own: Special Edition 2005

Council of Canadians with Disabilities'
CCD Election Challenge

Challenge To Politicians

A Federal Election presents an opportunity to educate future legislators about the issues facing Canadians with disabilities.

CCD's National Council identified 7 priorities:

  • Barrier Removal Process,

  • National Disability Support Investment,

  • Labor Market Strategy for Persons with Disabilities,

  • Reduction of poverty among people with disabilities,

  • Aboriginal Persons with Disabilities,

  • Persons with Disabilities Living in Institutions,

  • Accessible Campaigns.

In the coming weeks, CCD will be sharing its perspective on these issues with the major Federal parties and candidates. Join our campaign for a more accessible Canada.~ Marie White.

Challenge To Consumers

CCD encourages consumers to participate in the Election Campaign. Inform candidates about how CCD's 7 priorities impact upon you, a voter with a disability. Speak to them from the heart. Tell candidates how barriers have affected your participation in Canadian life and how action on the 7 consumer priorities will make Canada a better place for people with disabilities.

Special points of interest:

  • Consumers were one of the first groups to poll federal election candidates about their positions.

  • Consumers initiated Charter challenges to make the electoral process more accessible.

  • CCD is seeking commitments on 7 key issues.

National Disability Supports Fund

Canadians with disabilities need access to disability supports if we are to operate on a level playing field. Supports (such as attendant care, interpreter services, technical aids) must be in place if we are to have equal access to community life.

Currently, there is unprecedented consensus among the Canadian public, governments, the disability community and experts about the need for national action on disability.

In July 2005, more than 55 civil society organizations stood in solidarity on the issue of disability supports. They wrote to all Ministers of Social Services asking for a new strategic investment in disability-related supports and a process of defining a long-term strategy for addressing the inequality faced by Canadian with disabilities.

First Steps:

  • Invest in a National Disability-Related Supports Fund.
  • Priorities for investment set by provincial/territorial governments in consultation with persons with disabilities & eligibility would be non-income related.
  • An annual outcomes report on the Fund would be provided to the Government of Canada.

Labor Market Strategy for Persons with Disabilities

CCD is seeking Party commitments to end unemployment of persons with disabilities.

First Steps:

  • The Federal Government becomes a model employer.
  • Rework the Labor Market agreements to be inclusive of people with disabilities.
  • Expand the Opportunities Fund by $30 million and EAPD funding agreements by $200 million.
  • Remove disincentives to employment from income support programs.

Poverty Reduction

CCD's long-term objective is elimination of poverty experienced by Canadians with disabilities.

First Steps:

  • Expand the Disability Child Benefit to support youth in recognition of the critical transition youth face moving toward adult responsibilities: moving from home to independent living and from school to post-secondary education and training.
  • Support a broad review of income support programs and present recommendations for future reforms.

Barrier Removal Process

Barriers in federal programs prevent the participation of persons with disabilities.

These barriers violate Canada's Charter and human rights commitments to persons with disabilities.

First Steps:

  • Review federal programs and services to identify and remove barriers encountered by persons with disabilities.
  • Each federal government department would develop, implement and make public their plans for barrier removal.

For example, new policy, regulations and action are critical to address the transportation needs of Canadians with disabilities.

Access to transportation has eroded in recent years.

Quick Fact

12.4% of Canadians have a disability. Disability affects not only the individual but also their family.

Disability increases the likelihood that a person will not have a job and also results in lower family income.

Aboriginal Persons with Disabilities

The incidence of disability among Aboriginal persons is significantly higher than among other Canadians. They also face significant jurisdictional barriers when seeking to access services.

First Steps

CCD is seeking a commitment from all parties and candidates that issues of Aboriginals with disabilities will be a priority in all Federal Government initiatives.

Persons with Disabilities Living in Institutions

Too many Canadians with disabilities live in institutions, instead of their chosen community. Canada must increase efforts to support people with disabilities live in the community.

First Steps:

Prioritize people with disabilities living in institutions when developing disability-related supports.

Email candidates the disability rights message today.

CCD's member group People First of Canada has a yellow and black ribbon campaign to focus attention on institutionalization.

Accessible Campaigns/Material

CCD challenges all political parties and candidates to conduct barrier-free campaigns.

Components of an accessible campaign would include:

  • Literature available in alternate media,
  • Sign language interpretation at public meetings,
  • public meetings held in accessible meeting rooms,
  • TTY info lines,
  • Plain language information,
  • Captioning of television commercials

First Steps

Political parties and candidates adopt the principles of universal design for their campaigns.

Questions for Candidates

Disability Supports Fund

Do you support a national investment in a Disability Supports Fund?

Labor Market Strategy for Persons with Disabilities

How would you develop a labor market strategy for persons with disabilities that pays particular attention to: youth with disabilities, Aboriginal persons with disabilities, consumers facing labor market transitions?

Poverty Reduction

What would you do to eliminate the wide spread poverty experienced by persons with disabilities?

Barrier Removal Process

Do you support the development of accessibility regulations to improve access to the federally regulated transportation system?

Aboriginal Persons with Disabilities

How would you make Aboriginal persons with disabilities a priority in all Federal initiatives?

Persons with Disabilities Living in Institutions

Are you prepared to support Federal/ Provincial/Territorial government agreements on the provision of disability supports to prioritize people living in institutions?

Accessible Campaigns

What actions did you take to make your election campaign accessible to persons with disabilities? For example: Is you literature available in alternate media? Do you provide sign language interpretation when you hold public meetings? Do you hold your public meetings in accessible venues? Is your campaign office accessible? Are your TV ads captioned?

Raising disability issues in your own words and describing your own experiences and concerns is more powerful than quoting statistics.

Disability supports, income and employment are the building blocks of citizenship for persons with disabilities.

If I can only ask one question, what should it be?

Will you support development of a national action plan on disability issues that breaks down the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from full participation and equality?

Getting Involved

Activities for consumers:

Gather information on Party positions, share it with others.

Be visible. Attend candidates' meetings.

Raise our issues at town hall meetings, on call-in shows.

Challenge candidates to make their premises and campaign accessible.

Make submissions to the Letters to the Editor section of your local paper and raise our issues.

Check with your local District Returning Officer to determine if your polling station is accessible.

Ask the party of your choice to provide you with accessible transportation to the polls.

Activities for Consumer Groups

  • Write to Parties for their positions on consumer issues.
  • Educate local candidates about our issues by meeting with them in their offices.
  • Sponsor educational forums for candidates.
  • Issue media releases of concern to your community.
  • Organize a town hall meeting on disability issues for candidates in your area so that they can present their perspective on our issues.

6 Issues to Keep in Mind Before Voting for a Candidate

  1. Know what the candidate's position is on disability issues. Do you think this person will champion disability issues when she/he goes to Ottawa?
  2. Entertainment is NO substitute for content. Do not allow charm or affability to cloud your decision. Ensure that your questions are answered directly.
  3. Take stock of the candidate's record. If the candidate's campaign was inaccessible, is it likely he/she will be a disability rights champion in Ottawa?
  4. Examine party platforms carefully. Is the party that you are considering supporting one which has a vision that is inclusive of all Canadians ?
  5. Remain true to your own agenda. What are the issues that are important to you and how do you believe they should be addressed? Does the candidate's vision of Canada match your vision?
  6. Don't allow yourself to be used. Don't allow the candidate to patronize you or use your concerns as window dressing for his/her campaign.

Involvement of people with disabilities in the electoral process is an active demonstration of our citizenship rights in action.

Write to candidates stating your concerns about their positions on disability issues.

Rating Candidates

At the polls, Canadians influence what issues will be addressed. The Government we elect will play an important role in determining how inclusive of Canadians with disabilities our society will be. Therefore it is extremely important to pay attention to the platforms that the various parties are presenting and their stance on disability issues. It is also important to have disability rights champions in in the House of Commons. Evaluate your candidate.

Candidates Report Card: Disability Issues

Scoring Key
1=Not Supportive
2=Barely Supportive
3=Fairly Supportive
4=Very Supportive

Disability Supports Fund
Score __ 1 __ 2 __ 3 __ 4

Labor Market Strategy for Consumers
Score __ 1 __ 2 __ 3 __ 4

Poverty Reduction
Score __ 1 __ 2 __ 3 __ 4

Barrier Removal Process
Score __ 1 __ 2 __ 3 __ 4

Aboriginal Consumers' Issues
Score __ 1 __ 2 __ 3 __ 4

Consumers in Institutions
Score __ 1 __ 2 __ 3 __ 4

Accessible Campaigns
Score __ 1 __ 2 __ 3 __ 4

Has the candidate demonstrated support for disability issues?
Yes __ No __

Does the candidate discuss disability issue?
Yes __ No __

Elections and Access

The following are some of the access measures that have been implement by Elections Canada:

  • Returning offices and polling stations are to have level access,
  • Transfer certificates are available to electors with disabilities when polling stations are inaccessible,
  • A ballot box can be moved from room to room if necessary in institutions where people with disabilities live,
  • A cardboard template is available to assist voters with visual impairments mark their ballot independently,
  • Interpreters may accompany voters with disabilities to assist them,
  • Election workers will provide assistance to voters with disabilities,
  • Elections Canada provides disability awareness training to staff.

Indicators of Exclusion

  • 56.5% of persons with disabilities are currently unemployed or out of the labor market;
  • Persons with disabilities face levels of poverty almost twice that of persons without disabilities;
  • Two-thirds of Canadian adults with disabilities lack disability-related supports that they need;
  • Slightly more than half of children with disabilities do not have the aids & devices they need.

Some Stats on Women with Disabilities

55. 4% of women with disabilities are not in the labor force compared to 22.8% of women without disabilities.

The average annual income for women with disabilities is $20,821 compared to $24,776 for women without disabilities. The median income for women with disabilities is $15,500 compared to $20,000 for women without disabilities.

The average income for men with disabilities is $32,385 compared to $38,677 for men without disabilities.

The median income for men with disabilities is $28,157 compared to $31,500 for men without disabilities. Women with disabilities are worse off than both women without disabilities and men with disabilities.

The Government of Canada says...

"PALS data shows that core working age (25-54) adults with disabilities have much lower average income than those without ($52,835 compared to $72,951)" ~HRDC Disability in Canada.

Election access has come about because consumers made it happen. We lodged human rights complaints and Charter Challenges until election officials began to take our access issues seriously.

CCD, a national advocacy organization of persons with disabilities, works to build a disability-positive environment in Canada. Founded in 1976, CCD brings together national, provincial and territorial organizations of persons with disabilities to work on issues of concern to men and women with disabilities in Canada. Participation in the electoral process has been a priority for CCD since its earliest days. The CCD National Council of representatives endorsed the 7 issue areas addressed in this publication.

Council of Canadians with Disabilities

926-294 Portage Ave
Winnipeg, MB
R3C 0B9

Phone: 204-947-0303
Fax: 204-942-4625
E-mail: ccd@ccdonline.ca

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