"Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements."
~ Napoleon Hill

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Canada's Record on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Last month, Canada hosted the United Nations Special Rapporteur [an independent expert who reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, and advises on progress, opportunities and challenges encountered in the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities worldwide] on the rights of persons with disabilities. And she had lots of interest to say.

I'm going to highlight a few areas in this post, those of particular interest to me. However I strongly encourage you to read the entire document. Yes, it's lengthy but definitely worth the time.

Nevertheless during my visit I have noticed that discussions about the rights of persons with disabilities are still framed in terms of social assistance, rather than from a human rights-based approach. ... Therefore, more proactive governmental responses are needed to ensure systemic change and take away from individuals the burden of initiating lengthy and onerous legal procedures to achieve the recognition and enjoyment of their rights.
I also noted a disconnection between the State’s commitment to inclusion in legislation and policies, and everyday implementation in practice, reflected in long waiting time and lack of services for students with disabilities and their families, putting them under significant emotional and financial pressure. ...
I would like to remind the federal, provincial and territorial governments that the obligation to provide procedural accommodation to persons with disabilities in all legal proceeding, as established in article 13 of the CRPD, is distinct from the obligation to provide reasonable accommodation, as the first is not subjected to the test of undue hardship.

In addition, I am very concerned about the overrepresentation of persons with disabilities, particularly those belonging to indigenous or other minority communities, in both prisons and the juvenile justice system. I have also received alarming information that persons with psychosocial disabilities are diverted to mental health courts for minor offences where they are subjected to higher penalties and stricter regimes.
I am extremely concerned about the lack of comprehensive responses to guarantee the access of persons with disabilities to the support they need to live independently in their communities. Whereas legislation, services and programmes vary across provinces and territories, generally access to support is not considered as a right, but rather as a social assistance programme dependent on the availability of services.

... persons with disabilities have limited access to different forms of support (including income support, home support, and respite centers), experiencing long waiting time up to several years. While some pilot projects have shown their potential to transform service provision (e.g., the initiatives to provide personalized direct funding), the overall identification, systematization and scaling-up of such initiatives remain a challenge.

I am extremely concerned about the implementation of the legislation on medical assistance in dying from a disability perspective.... I have further received worrisome claims about persons with disabilities in institutions being pressured to seek medical assistance in dying, and practitioners not formally reporting cases involving persons with disabilities. I urge the federal government to investigate these complaints and put into place adequate safeguards to ensure that persons with disabilities do not request assistive dying simply because of the absence of community-based alternatives and palliative care.
Now go read the rest. Trust me.