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Convention for Persons with Disabilities Holds Government Accountable

March 20, 2014

On the heels of the Report on Equality Rights of People with Disabilities, the Canadian Human Rights Commission made this statement:

“It is the Commission’s fervent hope that the efforts and investments of governments across Canada will narrow the gaps that condemn so many people with disabilities to life-long conditions of disadvantage, and that improvements in social and economic inclusion will be reflected in the next Equality Rights report, to be completed within five years.”

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The Canadian Human Rights Commission plans to use the current report as a benchmark for future gains in equality for people with disabilities.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) uses two foundational documents in order to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are provided for in Canada’s constitution. Also, these documents are generally regarded in human rights laws at the federal and provincial/territorial levels, as well as specific laws in a variety of social and economic areas.

1. UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for use in Canada was recently ratified. It has inspired an evaluation tool that was created to assess equality rights in Canada.

2. This second document is called Canadian Human Rights Commission’s 2010 Framework for Documenting Equality Rights. The framework consolidates existing data from various surveys so that comparisons can be made between people with disabilities and people without disabilities from a human rights perspective.

CRPD makes clear that “Governments at all levels are responsible for implementing the Convention…Canada’s federal structure allows governments to work together to find innovative and practical solutions to challenges and to adopt policies and programs tailored to local needs and circumstances.”

Within the report are a number of governmental publications that the CRPD draws upon in order to formulate the report. Interested parties are urged to consult the footnotes on each page in order to prepare themselves with some background or concurrent reading that may help clarify the positions in the CRPD document itself.

The CRPD document references articles of interest drawn from the convention. They are first noted as applicable on the federal level, then referenced specifically under each provincial/territorial heading. They are:

• Articles 9 and 20: Accessibility and mobility
• Article 13: Access to justice
• Articles 10, 11 and 14-17: Protection of the person
• Articles 18, 21 and 22: Fundamental freedoms and respect for privacy
• Articles 19, 23, 26, 29 and 30: Social inclusion and independent living
• Articles 8, 24, 25, 27 and 28: Socio-economic participation

As the introduction of the CRPD states, “the report was prepared collaboratively by F-P/T governments. Over 700 civil society and Aboriginal organizations, and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, were consulted.” Between the Human Rights Commission, federal and provincial/territorial governing bodies plan to use the CRPD as a benchmark against which to monitor improvements in quality of life for persons with disabilities.

Some of the questions that interested Canadians will be asking include:

• Will federal and provincial/territorial laws make the difference?
• How are provinces doing in their efforts to improve quality of life for persons with disabilities?
• Are they really reaching these milestones?
• What needs to change to make Canada as accessible as possible?

At this time, we can only watch and hope and work toward implementing elements of the CRPD as outlined in the report in order to work toward a truly accessible Canada.

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