Michael Bach (sixth from left) with members of the Canadian civil society delegation.
Michael Bach (sixth from left) with members of the Canadian civil society delegation.

Canada and Canadian organizations of persons with disabilities and their families made history in Geneva, Switzerland on April 3 and 4 when Canada’s first report on implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was examined by the UN Committee responsible for monitoring the Convention. CACL EVP Michael Bach attended the Government of Canada’s appearance before the Committee and presented to Committee members our community’s key concerns on Canada’s failure to fully meet Canada’s obligations to ensure enjoyment of the right to legal capacity, the right to life and robust safeguards in the new system for medical assistance in dying, to safe and affordable housing and community supports.

During the country review, the CRPD Committee studied written submissions and dialogues with both government representatives and members of civil society. CACL was pleased to work with Council of Canadians with Disabilities, the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, the Wellesley Institute, ARCH Disability Law Centre, Canadian Association of the Deaf, People First of Canada, and many others to outline the major gaps in implementing the CRPD in Canada.

The UN Committee has just released its ‘Concluding Observations’ which make a number of comprehensive recommendations to close these gaps. See the report released on April 13 here.

Importantly, the UN calls on Canada to take leadership with provinces and territories to create a consistent framework across Canada to ensure the right to legal capacity and supported decision making, to appoint the Canadian Human Rights Commission as an independent monitor and to increase investment in supports to people with intellectual disabilities, access to affordable housing, inclusive education, employment participation and poverty reduction. CACL will issue an analysis of the Concluding Observations in the coming days.

Since 2015, Canadian disability organizations have been working together, sharing information, grounded in a disability rights analysis, with the Committee. The goal has been to expand upon what has been submitted by the federal, provincial and territorial governments of Canada. Links to some key reports CACL worked on are provided below.

The Canadian civil society delegation consisted of: Michael Bach (Canadian Association for Community Living), Jewelles Smith and Steven Estey (Council of Canadians with Disabilities), Kerri Joffe (ARCH Disability Law Centre), Randy Steffan (Alzheimer Society Canada), Phyllis Fehr (Ontario Dementia Advisory Group), Neil Balanger (BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society), Frank Folino (Canadian Association of the Deaf), Maureen Haan (Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work), Michele Biss and Laura Catteri (Canada Without Poverty), Kathleen Pye (Egale Canada), Keiko Thomas and Meaghan Shevell (McGill University).

Read the reports here: