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Disabled Prisoners in Canada: How do They Fare?

One of the topics that is rarely discussed either among activists, or anyone for that matter, is that of people with disabilities who must serve time. Prison time is challenging enough without adding the pressure of having to cope with one’s disability. The individual may have relied on various treatments and/or medications for their disability, but the question remains as to whether or not disabled prisoners are receiving proper treatment in Canadian prisons?


Nova Scotia Accessibility Legislation Gets More Scrutiny

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Nova Scotia government is seeking more input on its proposed accessibility legislation after negative feedback on the version tabled in the provincial legislature last fall. Committee hearings on Bill 59, an Act Respecting Accessibility in Nova Scotia, will resume next week with the Justice department replacing the Ministry of Community Services as the lead on the file.

The proposed legislation, drawing from recommendations of a Minister’s advisory panel released in 2015, was introduced in November 2016, then pulled off a planned fast track to approval. The bill sets out a guiding framework for how accessibility standards will be developed, applied and enforced beginning with the appointment of a 12-member accessibility advisory board that will be instrumental to the task but critics decry its lack of specifics and leeway for exemptions from compliance.

Liberals Revive Funding for Groups That Take Government to Court

Daniel Leblanc
The Globe and Mail, Feb. 7, 2017

Ottawa has reinstated a program that allows minority groups to get federal funding to challenge laws they feel go against their Charter rights, after it had been abolished by the previous Conservative government.

The Liberal government added it will expand the scope of the Court Challenges Program beyond its original mandate, which only included cases based on language and equality rights. Starting in the fall, the program will fund challenges to legislation based on the right to life, liberty and security, which was at the heart of the fight over Canadas prostitution laws, for example.

Proposed Manitoba Accessibility Standard for Employment

by Yosie Saint-Cyr

The Accessibility Advisory Council’s (AAC) is inviting interested stakeholders to provide their views to its initial proposal for an accessibility standard for employment. Therefore, employment is the second of five accessibility standards being developed under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA).

The purpose of the employment standards is to remove employment barriers for persons disabled by barriersincluding the obligation to provide reasonable accommodationunder the Human Rights Code. This standard will have a timeline for compliance, however, all employers must engage in emergency planning one year after the standard comes into effect.

Specifically, the employment standards have the following timelines:

Nova Scotians Can Discuss Accessibility at Law Amendments Committee

January 23rd, 2017

Nova Scotians are encouraged to present their views about the province’s first accessibility legislation, Bill 59, to the Law Amendments Committee.

“It is important for the disability community to have the opportunity to make their voices heard,” said Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard. “Government has been talking with many organizations and individuals over the past month to ensure they are aware of the bill and its intent and that supports will be put in place to make it easier for those who want to share their points of view with the committee.”

Government of Canada Improves Accessibility for Canadians With Disabilities Within Their Workplaces and Communities

SURREY, BC, Jan. 17, 2017 /CNW

Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, visited the Centre for Child Development of the Lower Mainland to announce the approval of 573 Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) projects. The Minister highlighted how these projects will help strengthen the Government of Canada’s commitment to ensuring greater accessibility and opportunity for Canadians with disabilities in their communities and workplaces.

Spotlight on Invisible Disabilities Project

ARCH Disability Law Centre wants you to know about the Spotlight on Invisible Disabilities Project.

The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association is leading a national consultation process on the Government of Canada’s proposed federal accessibility legislation. This legislation promises to make Canada more accessible and inclusive of persons with disabilities.

CHHA, with the help of 18 Canadian disability organizations (, including ARCH, wants to hear how the proposed federal accessibility legislation can achieve improved accessibility and inclusion of Canadians with disabilities.

In particular, CHHA wants to hear from youth, veterans and seniors.

Here are some of the ways your organization and community can participate in the consultation:


Brief From: John Rae
Brief To: Consultation Accessibility Legislation
January, 2017


My name is John Rae, I am totally blind and live in Toronto. Over the past 40 years, I have worked for the Ontario Government held elective offices in Canadas labour movement at the local, provincial national levels and actively participated with numerous community-based organizations dealing with disability and broader human rights issues.

I am working on a much lengthier and more comprehensive Brief which I expect to complete and submit in the next couple of weeks. In the interim I would like to file this short Brief in order to give focus to what I consider to be the most important elements of a productive and successful National Accessibility and Inclusion Act.

CES 2017: Emerging Tech Aims to Improve Life for Handicapped

Handy helper: The prosthetic hand from BrainRobotics, controlled by signals sent from the residual muscles on an amputee’s limb, a process that involves some machine learning technology, on display at the 2017 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP

LAS VEGAS: Emerging technology is giving new hope for the handicapped, and harnessing brainwaves for the physically disabled and helping the visually impaired with “artificial vision” are just the start.

Many systems showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are aimed at improving quality of life for people with disabilities.

BrainRobotics, a Massachusetts-based startup, showed its prosthesis that can be controlled by residual muscle strength of an amputee with better efficiency than similar devices, according to developers.

London Unveils Badge Program for People With Invisible Disabilities

London’s transportation department wants to help people with invisible conditions find a seat on public transportation. Starting September 12, Transport for London (TfL) will spend six weeks testing a badge program for people with invisible illnesses and disabilities. The badges, which say “Please offer me a seat,” are designed for people who are unable to stand, but appear like they can. Those who see someone wearing a badge will then be encouraged through campaigns and materials distributed by the TfL to offer up their seat.

The TfL is currently recruiting 1,000 people for its trial program. Those receiving a badge will also get a card to present to transportation staff. According to the TfL website, if the trial is successful, more people will be able to apply for the program.

5 Ways New Technologies are Empowering People with Disabilities

by Maggie Hammond

While the term adaptive technology is fairly new, throughout history humanity has used technology to make life easier for the sick and disabled. As a matter of fact, one of the oldest and most recognizable examples of adaptive technology is the simple cane used by the blind. Today, adaptive tech is so advanced that it can sometimes border on science fiction. Here are five new technologies that are empowering people with disabilities.

1. The DynaVox EyeMax

The EyeMax allows people with cerebral palsy, stroke, and paralysis to communicate using only their eyes. As they read on an on-screen keyboard, a scanner tracks their eye movements and formulates words and phrases. These are then translated into sound using text-to-speech technology.

In Quebec, French-Language Media Aren’t Talking About Accessibility

“When we talk about people with disabilities, theyre either shown as inspiring models of overcoming adversity, or as people left helpless. Ruby Irene Pratka
CANADALAND, December 15, 2016

For the 50th anniversary of the Montreal Métro, dozens of wheelchair users were able to do something theyd never done beforeenter the Place-des-Arts station. Only 10 of the subway networks 68 stations are currently accessible, to the consistent frustration of wheelchair users. For the anniversary celebrations, employees had set up a temporary ramp giving people in wheelchairs access to the station.

Co-organizer Laurence Parent did two TV interviews, one with CBC and one with Global. Weve been waiting for 50 years, Parent said, in her second language. Accessibility is coming but its not coming fast enough.

Canada Makes Further Commitment to Support Rights of Persons With Disabilities

December 1, 2016 – Ottawa, Ontario – Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, today announced that the Government of Canada has begun a consultation process on Canadas accession to the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Optional Protocol).

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities protects and promotes the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities without discrimination and on an equal basis with others.

International Day of Persons with Disability 2016

Independent Living Canada invites Canadians to join their voices for a more inclusive Canada Nov 28th (Ottawa, Ontario)

In preparation for the 2016 International Day of Persons with Disability (IDPD) Independent Living Canada has an ambitious goal: Get thousands of Canadians from across the country to add their voice by signing their Declaration on their campaign page:

We believe that everyone has the right to aspire to the philosophy of Independent Living. While people with disabilities have made great strides in our country, too many still face barriers in daily living. Persistent gaps remain in areas such as employment, income, social inclusion, transportation and accessibility. Because we aspire to an all-inclusive and accessible society where people with disabilities are valued equally and participate fully, we believe these are issues that should be addressed now, to make Canada a better place.

Silent No More: Ottawa Consults on national disability act, demonstrations for disability justice remain strong

by Alex William
The Leveller, November 23, 2016

With a national disability act in preparation, the federal government is continuing its consultation process to address concerns within the disability community. On Nov. 1, over 100 people with disabilities arrived at Carleton University to take part in the National Youth Forum on an Accessible Canada.

While many issues arose during the youth forum, one of the most prominent and recurring problems is the close correlation between disability and poverty.

The World Blind Union: Future Challenges and Opportunities

by Fredric K. Schroeder, PhD

From the Editor: Fredric Schroeder is one of the most prolific and thought-provoking writers we have, and when his name appears on the annual convention agenda, the speeches he gives never fail to command attention and spark discussion. It is no accident that Fred Schroeder is now the president of the World Blind Union, and his service will no doubt bring the same class, intelligence, and insight that have benefited the blind of the United States. Here is what he writes for the Braille Monitor following the meeting at which he was elected:

Does Canada Need a Canadians with Disabilities Act?

by Ilanna Mandel

The question we, as Canadians may want to ask ourselves is: “will the enactment of national legislation such as a Canadians with Disabilities Act help to create this fully inclusive society?” A national act is only the precursor to change. The law must be drafted in such a way so as to be the foundation for social change.


How Far Has B.C. Come in Terms of Accessibility? Rick Hansen Weighs In

‘A lot of the stats show deep unemployment, challenges and barriers still out there,’ says Rick Hansen
By Jon Hernandez, CBC News Posted: Nov 17, 2016 4:43 PM PT| Last Updated: Nov 17, 2016

Canada’s Man in Motion, Rick Hansen, poses for a photograph outside his foundation’s offices in Richmond, B.C., on Sunday Jan. 30, 2011.

When Canadian icon Rick Hansen was just 15 years old, a pickup truck accident left him a paraplegic. He went on to circle the entire planet in his wheelchair and raise millions of dollars for people living with disabilities.

Press Release: CCD Says Regulations Are Necessary to Increase the Accessibility of Passenger Transportation

November 16, 2016

On Thursday, November 17, 2016 in Montreal, Bob Brown, Co-Chair of CCD’s Transportation Committee, will attend the federal government’s roundtable discussion on planned accessibility legislation, as it relates to transportation. The federal government regulates air, rail, interprovincial marine and bus transportation. Roundtable organizers want participants to identify gaps in the legal and policy environment and to suggest ways for Canada to make transportation more accessible. Among other recommendations, CCD will urge the adoption of comprehensive accessibility regulations.

In the 1990s, when Canada turned its back on binding accessibility regulations in favour of voluntary codes of practice to prevent barriers, progress in Canada toward a fully accessible transportation system became lamentably slow. The burden to remedy transportation barriers through litigation fell on people with disabilities and their organizations, such as CCD.

Women and Persons With Disabilities Being Left Behind on CPP Expansion

Nov 14, 2016

Women and persons with disabilities will face a significant and unfair disadvantage under proposed changes to the Canada Pension Plan. Canada’s largest union is urging the federal government to address troubling gaps in legislation to expand the CPP that will harm workers already vulnerable to post-retirement poverty.

“Women and persons with disabilities are far more reliant on public pensions. It is deeply troubling that the Liberal federal government is abandoning these already vulnerable workers in the urgently needed expansion of the CPP,” said Mark Hancock, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.