Disabled Peoples' International North America and the Caribbean

Regional Happenings February 2006

Events in Barbados

Top Honors – The Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD) joins the entire community of persons with disabilities there to congratulate Mrs. Dawn Rudder and Mr. FitzGerald Brereton on being recipients of the 2005 Independence Honors.  Mrs. Rudder received the Barbados Service Star for meritorious work in the civil, fire, military, prison and other protective services.  Mr. Brereton received the Barbados Service Medal for meritorious work in the police, fire and other protective services.

 

Well Done! – The community of persons with disabilities was made very proud by the delivery of the National Pledge by Janeel Odle and Peterson Moore, students of the Irving Wilson School.  They were another fine example of Barbados’s moves toward becoming a truly inclusive society.

 

Making A Difference – The Learning Centre hosted its Annual Variety Concert on Saturday, 10th December, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. at the school hall.

 

Celebrate!!!  – Differently able young people of Barbados presented “Celebrate a Christmas Production” written and directed by Annalise Bailey on Saturday, 10th Dec., 2005 at 4:00 p.m. at St. Gabriel’s School Auditorium.  There was a collection towards the students dance programme at the door.

 

Need a Computer?  If you are looking for a new Computer, but would rather have it built exactly to your specifications, get in touch with Mr. Perry Holloway.  Perry is in the business of providing custom-built Computer Systems made to your individual needs.  Give Mr. Holloway a call at 246-422-5001 for further details.

 

Portable Water to Homes – Mrs. Yvonne Walkes (Barbados Workers’ Union) is seeking the assistance of the Council and its affiliates with a project to provide running water to persons without such a common convenience in their homes.

 

Change of the Board – The Barbados Association for Correction of Learning Disabilities held its Annual General Meeting on 5th November, 2005.  The following persons were elected to serve on the Board for the period 2005-2006:

 

President                        Mr. Michael Taylor

Vice President                 Mr. David 'Joey's Harper

Secretary                       Miss Tonya Byer

Treasurer                        Mr. Richard Ashby

Floor Members                Miss Cynthia Herbert

                       Mrs. Coral Niles

                       Miss Evelina King

 

Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD) New Affiliate - BCD is pleased to welcome its newest member, the Stroke Support Group.  The Stroke Support Group represents an increasing number of stroke survivors who are often left with a variety of disabilities.

 

We Are Re-opened!  The Association for the Blind and Deaf are informing the Public that the Centre has reopened for business after the Christmas closure. 

 

Town Hall Meeting – The National Committee on Ageing hosted a discussion on the White Paper on Ageing labeled "The Senior Citizen Protection Act" on Wednesday, 18th January, 2006 at 7:30 p.m.  The Venue was the Alexander School, St. Peter.

 

Healthy Eating!  The Members of the Myasthenia Gravis Association of Barbados hosted Ms. Karen Griffith (Dietician) at their Bi-monthly Meeting on Saturday, 20th January, 2006 from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.  The venue was Conference Room #1 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

 

Pre-Valentine Dinner!  The Sub-Committee of the Blind and Visually Impaired Women, an affiliate of the Barbados Association for the Blind and Deaf hosted a pre-Valentine Dinner on Wednesday, 11th February, 2006 from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at the Barbados Public Workers Cooperative Credit Union, Belmont Road, St. Michael.

 

Panel Discussion - Prime Minister of Barbados, The Right Honourable Owen S. Arthur recently increased the National Insurance and Welfare Benefits for persons with disabilities in that country.  A Panel Discussion was held on Wednesday, 15th February, 2006 from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at the Barbados Public Workers Co-operative Credit Union Ltd., Belmont Road, St. Michael to clearly outline the benefits to be derived.


Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Challenge

On 29th November, 2005, the decision was made that Canadians would go to the polls on 23rd January, 2006.  At its June meeting, CCD decided to continue with the same priorities, it focused on in the 2004 election, because they have not realized their objectives in these areas.  Their seven priorities are:  National Disability-Related Supports Fund, Labor Market Strategy for Persons with Disabilities, Poverty Reduction, Barrier Removal Process, Aboriginal Persons with Disabilities, People with Disabilities Living in Institutions, and Accessible Campaigns.

 

Creating an Accessible Canada

Every federal election, CCD presents its own campaign issues to candidates and political parties.  CCD challenged Canada’s political parties and candidates running in the 2006 federal election to support the equality of persons with disabilities.  CCD’s long-term objective is to ensure that Canadians with disabilities have equal access to community life.  CCD is promoting a number of reforms and challenged federal political parties and candidates to adopt them.  CCD encouraged people with disabilities and their allies to bring the seven priority issues to the attention of candidates.

 

National Disability-Related Supports Fund

Canadians with disabilities need supports such as accessible transportation, attendant care, interpreter services, and technical aids must be in place if they are to have equal access to all aspects of life in their communities.

 

Supports Fund First Steps:

Investment in a National Disability-Related Supports Fund;

Priorities for investment set by provincial/territorial governments in consultation with persons with disabilities and eligibility for supports 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

Security is having a job and the CCD sought commitments from parties and candidates to end the massive unemployment of persons with disabilities.

 

Labor Market Strategy First Steps:

The Federal Government becomes a model employer;

Rework the Labor Market agreements to be inclusive of and address the training and employment of people with disabilities;

Expand the Opportunities Fund by $30 million and Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities (EAPD) funding agreements by $200 million;

Remove disincentives to employment from income support programs, like Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits;

Expand the Canada Access Grants and Canada Study Grants programs, which pay for accommodation of students with disabilities.

 

Poverty Reduction

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

 

Poverty Reduction First Steps:

Expand the Disability Child Benefit to support youth in recognition of the critical transition youth face moving toward adult responsibilities, such as 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.

 

Barrier Removal Process 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 is critical to address the transportation needs of Canadians with disabilities.  Access to transportation has eroded in recent years.

 

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 to live in the community.

 

Living in Institutions First Steps:

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

 

Aboriginal Persons with Disabilities

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

 

Aboriginal Issues First Steps

CCD is seeking a commitment from all parties and candidates that disability issues will be recognized as a priority in all federal initiatives on Aboriginal persons.

 

Accessible Campaigns/Materials

CCD challenged all political parties and candidates to conduct barrier-free campaigns.  Components of an accessible campaign include but are not limited to:  sign language interpretation at public meetings and campaign literature in alternate media.

 

Accessible Campaigns First Step:

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

 

Taking the Consumer Campaign to Candidates

Recognizing various communities had a role to play in ensuring their issues and messages are at the forefront of the federal election, CCD encouraged everyone to get involved and not wait for candidates to approach their group.  CCD encouraged all groups to be proactive!  CCD pushed organizations to reach out to candidates and encourage them to engage with the disability community in their area.  CCD encouraged grassroots disability organizations to connect with candidates by:

 

Organizing a delegation of people with disabilities to visit the candidates at campaign headquarters and explain what an accessible campaign would entail.

Organizing a town hall meeting and involving all candidates to discuss how they intend to work in support of persons with disabilities—focus on the need for non-income tested disability-related supports programs/plans and strategies for inclusive employment measures.

Attending public events sponsored by candidates so that people with disabilities have a visible presence during the campaign.

 

Consumer Questions for Candidates

CCD suggested that disability rights advocates ask candidates the following types of questions:

 

How would you support the development of a national investment in a Disability Supports Fund?

How do we develop a labor market strategy addressing disability?

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

How would you support the development of accessibility regulations, not voluntary codes, to improve access to the federal transportation system?

How would you go about making disability a priority in all Federal initiatives?

 

CCD Election Preparedness also undertook a significant number of public education activities leading up to and during the election campaign such as developing and disseminating 10 special editions of A Voice of Our Own, and staging a candidates’ forum that was held during the CCD Council meeting.  Approximately 100 people participated in this event.  The three candidates who participated were Liberal candidate Reg Alcock, Conservative candidate Steven Fletcher, and NDP candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis.  They were first requested to answer three key questions:

 

What is your Party’s vision for the next decade for supporting persons living with disabilities?

Name two issues in the area of disability that your Party would prioritize for action in the next two years and what would you do?

How would you ensure that Canadians with disabilities have the supports needed to participate in community life, get an education and join the workforce?

 

Following their introductory remarks, questions were posed from the floor.  CCD undertook this event with its Manitoba member the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) and The Association for Community Living (ACL) Manitoba.  To view photos of the proceedings go to:

 

http://www.ccdonline.ca/Election%202006/pictures%20from%20all%20candidates%20forum.html

 

Canadian Library Association and VP NET

On 8th December, 2005, Laurie Beachell, along with John Rae of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), met with the Canadian Library Association to discuss accessible library services.  Jim Derksen and Deborah Steinstra conducted a focus group organized by the Ottawa Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC) on the same date.  The purpose of the focus group was to learn the views of people with disabilities about public policy that affects Canadians with disabilities in the end of life stage.

 

International Development Committee

On 9th-10th December, 2005, the CCD International Development Committee hosted a consultation on the proposed UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities.  This consultation was part of the Committee’s on-going work to advance the proposed Convention.

 

Members of the Canadian delegation attended so they had the opportunity to hear first hand from disability rights activists about their concerns regarding components of different articles.  Representatives from the following organizations were in attendance:  National Educational Association of Students with Disabilities, Canadian Association of Independent Living Centers, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, Confédération des Organismes de Personnes Handicapées du Québec (COPHAN), African Canadian Disability Community Association, ARCH, Canadian Association for Community Living, Canadian Association of Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities, Differently Able Women's Network (DAWN) Canada, DAWN Ontario, Canadian Association of the Deaf, Disability Rights Promotion International, The Canadian National Institute for the Blind CNIB), to name a few.  This was the third consultation on the convention conducted by CCD.  When a report on the outcome of the consultation is completed, it will be posted on the CCD web site.

 

CCD Council of Representatives

The Council met in Winnipeg, 13th-15th January, 2006.  As there were a number of new representatives, a series of information/discussion workshops were held to bring the Council up-to-date on current issues, including the Federal party platforms, the re-emergence of the concept of a national disability act, the research projects in which CCD is involved and the most recent activity in relation to the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities.  At CCD's next AGM on 9th-11th June, 2006, elections will be held for all executive positions.  Barbara Beauchamp and Margot Brunner-Campbell volunteered for the Nominating Committee for the upcoming AGM.  Following the CCD January 2006 AGM, there was a Forum, sponsored by the VP Net research project, addressing end of life issues and people with disabilities.  Judy Heumann was a guest speaker.

 

CCD Human Rights Committee

CCD is seeking 10 consumers who would be willing to be interviewed regarding complaints made within the last 3 years to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.  CCD’s Human Rights Committee is conducting a research project that is examining the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s practices.

 

CCD Transportation Committee is working on a number of legal cases, addressing barriers in transportation including:

 

The McKay-Panos case, which addressed the right of obese persons to have sufficient seating to accommodate their space needs, has been decided by the Federal Court of Appeal.  The Federal Court of Appeal accepted that Ms. McKay-Panos is a person with a disability and the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has the authority to determine whether she encountered an undue obstacle to mobility.  The case will now go back to CTA.

 

The One Person-One Fare Case that a hearing is scheduled for the end of January has been delayed.  The respondents have not provided the required information to CTA.

 

The VIA case that is currently at the Supreme Court.  A number of organizations are seeking to intervene in this case in support of CCD’s position including CAILC, DAWN, AEBC and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.


An appeal for support from the President of the Center for International Rehabilitation in the United States of America, Maria Veronica Reina

 

Dear Friend,

 

Over 500 million people, nearly 10% high of the world’s population, have a disability.

 

Every day, millions of people with disabilities are subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment, including forced institutionalization and physical abuse.

 

Existing legal protections are not sufficient to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities, especially in developing countries where approximately two thirds of people with disabilities live.

 

Even in the few countries that have passed comprehensive disability legislation, people with disabilities still face mistreatment, discrimination and barriers to access and inclusion in employment, housing, education, transportation, emergency assistance and other services.

 

It’s time for change.

 

Please follow the link below to add your name to an online petition urging government leaders around the world to ratify a strong United Nations Convention for Persons with Disabilities.

 

http://www.conventionyes.org/content.cfm?ID=585C76&iu=5B5D777A544B

 

Thank you for helping to advance the ongoing struggle for universal human rights.


Representation from the Region at the Ad Hoc Committee negotiation

The Region was represented at the Seventh Session of the Ad Hoc Committee negotiations on the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities from 17th January-3rd February, 2006 by its Regional Chairperson Mary Mitchell-Coombs who is also a member of the International Disability Caucus (IDC), a Canadian delegation including representatives from National Educational Association of Students with Disabilities, Canadian Association of Independent Living Centers, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, African Canadian Disability Community Association, Canadian Association for Community Living, Canadian Association of Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities, Differently Able Women's Network (DAWN) Canada and Ontario, Canadian Association of the Deaf, Disability Rights Promotion International, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Chapter of the Disabled Beams' International (TTDPI) George Daniel and head of the TTDPI Tobago Region Jason Clarke.

© Disabled Peoples' International 2006
All rights reserved, Used by permission