April 13, 2017

TORONTO – The United Nations called on Canada today to address the “persisting gaps in the exercise and enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities, such as education, work and employment and an adequate standard of living, including due to lack of affordable housing and access to water and sanitation”.

Pointing to concerns about people with intellectual disabilities, Indigenous persons with disabilities and those doubly and triply disadvantaged by gender identity and sexual orientation, the UN calls on the Government of Canada to take “leadership to convene provinces and territories to ensure a pan-Canadian approach to implementation and enact a comprehensive national action plan for implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”.

The full report issued by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can be viewed here.

Joy Bacon, President of Inclusion Canada, said, “At last we have a clear platform for advancing a comprehensive agenda to address the multiple sources and forms of discrimination faced by most people with intellectual and other disabilities in this country. We know the Government of Canada and provinces and territories have taken some steps to address the situation. But far too often we end up with piecemeal initiatives. The UN has seen fit to call on Canada to take a comprehensive approach. Most importantly throughout its report it calls on Canada to take leadership to bring provinces and territories together to tackle the issues in a joined and collaborative way, even if the action needed is in provincial jurisdiction. That leadership is long overdue.”

Inclusion Canada Executive Vice-President Michael Bach, said, “We are also very pleased to see that the UN is calling on Canada to appoint the Canadian Human Rights Commission and to give it the needed resources to independently monitor implementation and outcomes of the Convention. With almost 50% of discrimination cases at the federal and provincial/territorial human rights agencies now based on disability discrimination, something must be done. We need an independent monitoring of the systemic sources of discrimination, disadvantage, and violence face by Canadians with disabilities. This government has demonstrated so far that it is open to the concerns of people with disabilities and their families and organizations, to actively engaging us, and to confront head-on longstanding barriers. We hope they take this international report card on Canada to heart and put into place the mechanisms for a national action plan and independent monitoring that it calls for.”

Inclusion Canada is also very pleased to see that the report calls on Canada to take leadership to work with provinces and territories to ensure the right to legal capacity is recognized for all persons with disabilities and that mechanisms for supported decision making are recognized in federal and provincial/territorial statutes.

Moreover, the UN has expressed concerns about implementation of the new system for medical aid in dying in Canada, and calls on the government to ensure people with disabilities “have access to alternative courses of action and to a dignified life made possible with appropriate palliative care, disability support, home care and other social measures that support human flourishing.”

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For more information, please contact:
Marc Muschler, Senior Communications Officer, Inclusion Canada,