CCD Voice of Our Own - Special Edition

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) was founded in 1976 as an organization of people with disabilities working for people with disabilities.  CCD was first known as the Coalition of Provincial Organizations of the Handicapped (COPOH), but, in 1994, when its membership structure changed to include national organizations of people with disabilities, a new name was adopted - the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

We have been working in a nonpartisan manner for equal access to the same opportunities as Canadians without disabilities - opportunities to go to school, to work, to volunteer, to have a family, and to participate in our communities.  To that end, CCD brings together people with disabilities to work with government and other sectors to build a more inclusive and accessible Canada.  This Update highlights some of the key milestones from the last 40 years, where CCD played a significant role.

1976 – 1985

CCD convened open national conferences addressing employment (1978), transportation (1979), the parameters of rehabilitation (1980), consumerism (1981), income security (1983), and transportation and independent living (1985), UN Decade (1989).  Through these forums, important policy positions were established, such as the separation of systemic advocacy and individual advocacy that led to the emergence of the Independent Living movement in Canada.


The House of Commons' Special Committee on the Disabled and the Handicapped released the Obstacles report.  CCD seconded its National Coordinator to the Committee to work on Obstacles.

CCD played a key role in the development of Disabled Peoples' International (DPI).


CCD fought for the inclusion of disability in Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Eventually, Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien, who was then Minister of Justice, was convinced and Canada became the first nation to include the prohibition of discrimination against people with physical and mental disabilities in its Constitution.

Section 15 came into force in 1985 and since that time CCD has intervened in a number of court cases, to advance an equality rights argument.  Some examples are: Andrews (how equality is defined under the Charter),  Eaton (Inclusive Education), Eldridge (the right of deaf people to have interpreters in medical settings), Genereux and Latimer (the application of the proscribed legal penalties when the victim of a killing is a person with a disability), Carter  (opposition to legalized assisted suicide).  CCD's factums from its legal interventions are available on its website.


CCD actively promoted the broadening of the Canadian Human Rights Act (1977), because while the Act prohibited discrimination in matters of employment for people with physical disabilities, it did not, as it did with the other 8 grounds, protect people with disabilities from discrimination in the provision of goods, services, facilities and accommodation.  On March 30, 1983 Parliament gave assent to Bill C-141, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, which expanded the protection of the Act to people with mental, as well as physical, disabilities and prohibited discrimination in matters related to employment and the provision of goods, services, facilities and accommodation.  CCD has intervened in court cases, where human rights have been the focus.  For example, in the Moore case, CCD intervened to argue "that when an exclusionary barrier is identified, the next step is to provide accommodation to remove the barrier."  In its intervention, CCD "challenged the lower court rulings which said that to get accommodation, persons with disabilities must show that they have been treated worse than other persons with disabilities."  CCD's VIA Rail case focused on whether formal or substantive accommodation will be made for equality seekers under specialized human rights legislation, such as the "undue obstacle" jurisdiction of the Canadian Transportation Agency under the Canadian Transportation Act.

CCD was consulted by the Minister of Transport during the development of the national Policy on the Transportation of Disabled Persons, which set out the Federal Government's responsibility for ensuring safe, reliable and equitable transportation services to people with disabilities.

CCD and the National Union of Public and General Employees published Together for Social Change, which investigated sheltered employment.


CCD served on the Minister of Transport's Transportation of Disabled Persons Implementation Committee, which advised on the application of the national Policy on Transportation of Disabled Persons.

The federal Secretary of State was designated as the Minister Responsible for the Status of Disabled Persons and a secretariat was established to coordinate federal actions on disability.  The Disabled Persons Participation Program (DPPP) was created to fund organizations of persons with disabilities; CCD worked to ensure DPPP supported the voice of Canadians with disabilities.


Statistics Canada conducted the first Health and Activity Limitation Survey (HALS), a national database on disability.  CCD was contracted by the department to convene the first community consultation on HALS.

CCD and other groups worked in support of the Employment Equity Act, which requires federally regulated employers to report on the employment of designated groups. CCD convened community consultations on Employment Equity.


CCD was consulted by the Department of Transport on the strengthening of accessibility requirements for persons with disabilities in the National (now Canada) Transportation Act of 1987.


In July 1990, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 159 (Vocational Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities) was ratified.  In 1985, CCD's International Committee established a sub-committee focused on the work of the ILO.


Prime Minister Brian Mulroney announced a $158 million National Strategy for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities, which involved 10 federal departments working over a 5-year period.  CCD met with Prime Minister Mulroney and sought his support to create this initiative.  CCD members were central to the launch of this initiative.

The Government of Canada created the Canadian Labour Force Development Board.  CCD was contracted to coordinate the CLFDB's Disability Reference Group, which named the disability community representative to the CLFDB.


An Act to Amend Certain Acts with Respect to Persons with Disabilities (Bill C-78) became law and amended five pieces of legislation  (the Citizenship Act, the Canada Elections Act, the Criminal Code, the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act) to make them less discriminatory to persons with disabilities.  CCD coordinated the development of some of the legislative proposals which contributed to Bill C-78.

When disability rights were left out of the Canada Clause of the Charlottetown Accord, CCD worked to prevent the creation of a hierarchy of rights and in support of the integrity of Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


The Federal Task Force on Disability Issues, chaired by Andy Scott, released its report, Equal Citizenship for Canadians with Disabilities: The Will to Act, which reiterated the importance of a strong federal government role in the removal of barriers for persons with disabilities.  CCD was a Special Advisor to the Task Force and a CCD representative participated in the Committee's hearings where hundreds of Canadians with disabilities discussed the critical role the federal government has to play in addressing disability issues.


The Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention, was adopted by the UN in 1997.  CCD's work on the Ottawa Convention directly contributed to Article 6, which included the first-ever reference to disability in an arms treaty at the global level.


Parliament amended the Canadian Human Rights Act, requiring federally regulated employers to accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities.  This amendment came about as a result of the Meorin and Grismer decisions at the Supreme Court. CCD intervened in the Grismer case.

The Federal, Provincial and Territorial (F/P/T) Minister’s  Responsible for Social Services released In Unison: A Canadian Approach to Disability Issues, which set out a program for promoting the integration of persons with disabilities.  CCD was invited to present community views to the F/P/T Working Group on Benefits and Services for People with Disabilities.


The F/P/T Minister’s Responsible for Social Services issued In Unison 2000: Persons with Disabilities in Canada. CCD met with the F/P/T Services and Benefits Working Group that jointly developed this document.


In R. v. Latimer [2001] 1 S.C.R. 3, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Robert Latimer's crime of murdering his disabled daughter Tracy Latimer could not be justified through the defence of necessity. CCD was an intervenor in this case.


In the VIA Rail decision, the Supreme Court of Canada said an emphatic NO! to the creation of new barriers.  CCD went to the Court to prevent VIA Rail from putting inaccessible passenger cars into service.

The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) was created; it is designed to promote saving for the long-term financial security of a person who is eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.  Minister Flaherty named CCD to the 3-person Expert Panel to create the RDSP.


As a result of a complaint brought to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) by CCD, the CTA ordered Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet, to amend their practices to include a "one person - one fare" policy for persons with disabilities who require additional seating to travel on domestic flights.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council awarded CCD a $1 million grant to research poverty and disability.  Download the project's complete findings at Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship.


CCD made a submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Canada, and has engaged in these reviews since that time.  The UPR takes place under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council.


On March 11, 2010, Canada became the 82nd country to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). "Nothing About Us, Without Us" had been the community's approach to all CRPD activities.  Representatives from CCD, IL Canada and the Canadian Association for Community Living and then Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at the UN in New York, to hand over the papers for ratification.  In a news conference at the UN, ratification was welcomed with joy and celebration, but it was also noted then that the community's work was just beginning.  A CCD representative had been included on the Canadian delegations to the UN that participated in the drafting of the CRPD.  Also in 2010, CCD began a 5-year project educating Canadians about the CRPD.


The Participation and Activity Limitation Survey was cancelled and work began to develop a new data strategy related to persons with disabilities.  Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Diane Finley asked CCD to co-chair the Technical Advisory Group responsible for creating a new disability data strategy.


Minister Flaherty and Minister Kenney hosted a breakfast for the disability community to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities.  CCD and CACL coordinated the community invitations to the event.


Elections Canada created an accessibility advisory committee.  The committee emerged from a three year project between Elections Canada and CCD.  CCD is a member of the advisory committee and has worked with Elections Canada for over 30 years to improve access to the electoral process.


Disability community organizations named CCD as the secretariat to coordinate the development of civil society's shadow report to UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


CCD, along with a number of other disability organizations, endorsed the Vulnerable Persons Standard, which outlines safeguards that will help to ensure that Canadians requesting assistance from physicians to end their life can do so without jeopardizing the lives of vulnerable persons who may be subject to coercion and abuse.  We are calling on all Members of Parliament to ensure that federal legislation regulating physician-assisted death incorporate these safeguards.

CCD contributed a written submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for Canada's Sixth Periodic Review.

CCD established a new committee to work on the creation of a national disabilities act.

Supporting the Work of CCD

As shown above, CCD works to improve the social and economic inclusion of persons with various disabilities.  As new barriers to participation continue to emerge, this work is as necessary today as it was in 1976.  Together, we can make Canada an accessible and inclusive country.  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  (  CCD is a registered charity and issues tax receipts to donors.

CCD's Members

Nine Provincial Cross Disability Organizations

Disability Alliance BC
Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD)
Saskatchewan Voice of People with Disabilities (SVOPD)
Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD)
Citizens with Disabilities – Ontario
Confédération des Organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec (COPHAN)
Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (NLSEO)
Prince Edward Island Council of People with Disabilities (PEICOD)
Coalition of Persons with Disabilities – Newfoundland and Labrador (COD-NL)
Associate Member

NWT Disabilities Council

National Consumer-Controlled Organizations

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
Canadian Association of the Deaf
DisAbled Women’s Network Canada (DAWN-RAFH)
National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)
National Network for Mental Health
People First of Canada
Thalidomide Victims of Canada