On November 26, a friend and I headed down to Canada Place to take part in the Federal Government’s Public Engagement meeting.
There with around 300 people, most of whom had a disability, we talked to the Mister of Sport and People with Disabilities about various disability issues.
I learned a lot from the meeting, including a big reminder on just how diverse the disability movement really is.
There were a lot of people with vision impairment at the meeting along with quite a few representatives of the deaf community. As well many people from the autism community were there, often contradicting each other when they talked about treatment.
A lot of people were from Barrier Free Canada/BC and they were expressing opinions on the actual topic at hand which was supposed to be about the Canadian with Disabilities Act.
I say supposed because many of the presenters came with other topics in mind.
This was another thing I got reminded of; how disabilities issues cut across the actual causes of disabilities.
Many people from the deaf and blind communities talked about the difficulty of finding gainful employment. Many people on the autism spectrum talked about the need for support or the lack thereof. Substitute being blind or deaf with autism or CP and you’d hardly know the difference.
What did a lot these issues have with the Canadian with Disabilities Act? Not a lot, but it really did show, yet again, how people with disabilities haven’t had a voice with the larger community for their issues for a long time.
Perhaps more than anything I believed that the overwhelming desire to let people in power know just how much their hurting shows just how important a Federal Ministry of Disabled People really is, and just how overdue it is as well.
As for the meeting, itself, I was disappointed with two things. First off there was no mention by the government of the optional UN protocols to the Un Declaration of Disabled Rights.
These protocols allow citizens to bring complaints about violations of disabled rights to the UN.
Effectively giving citizens the right to sue their own government for inaction. Canada is one of the few developed countries that has not signed onto these protocols.
Now I have it on good back channel authority that Canada will sign the protocols eerily next year, but it would have been nice to have this officially confirmed.
As well I was disappointed to hear that we may be well into 2018 before a Canadian with Disabilities Act will be implemented.
I know some time is needed work through the regulations but if they’re going to enact the thing as part of the Canada 150 celebrations surely six months is enough time to get the thing working. This isn’t rocket science folks.
But then I have to remember that at least were seeing some movement on this file.
Which was far more than we had with the previous government.
And that taking a little extra time to get things right is ultimately a good thing.
As well hopefully that extra time will provide the Provincial government the kick in the butt it needs to get a provincial BC Person with Disabilities law enacted.
Still I hate the waiting.
Story by Cathy Grant