SAFEGUARD DISABILITY RIGHTS - SIGN THE UN PROTOCOL
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With great fanfare in 2010, the Harper government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). However, it never took the next step of ratifying its Optional Protocol, which is essential for holding Canada accountable for its commitment.
Parents are kept awake at night worrying about the long-term future of their children with disabilities, and they struggle every day to get proper supports for them. Meanwhile, their concerns are often shrugged off when their children are placed inappropriately -- in segregated classes or schools, in workshops paying pennies a day, and even in seniors' homes. For example, lively 49-year-old Teresa Pocock (pictured above) was rescued from a long-term care facility that specialized in dementia and palliative care patients. Teresa is just one of thousands, and most don't get out! (See her petition: www.change.org/teresapocock, which was recently closed when she received a personal letter of apology from Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario's Minister of Health.)
In her June 22 announcement on consultation for new disability legislation, the Minister of Sport and Disabilities, Carla Qualtrough, acknowledged just how defenceless people with disabilities are: “Right now, within our current legal framework, the rights of those of us with disabilities don’t kick in ... until our rights have been violated. The current system unfairly burdens Canadians to ever defend our rights.”
Obviously, persons with disabilities should not have to defend their rights in court, yet at present violations under the CRPD cannot even be reported to the UN because Canada has not signed the Protocol. If it truly wants to protect disability rights, therefore, our current government will need to attend to this unfinished business of the previous government.
In signing the CRPD, the Canadian government promised to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities. If it enforces its own disability laws the Protocol will not be necessary -- otherwise Canadians will need it as a final resort.
Over 26,000 Canadians are looking forward to having Prime Minister Trudeau safeguard disability rights by signing and ratifying the Protocol by the end of 2017.
Please sign this petition and urge Prime Minister Trudeau to add this task to his priority list.
- Prime Minister of Canada/Premier ministre du Canada
- Prime Minister of Canada
The Right Honorable Justin Trudeau
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:
When asked why gender-balance was important to your cabinet, you replied, "Because it's 2015". Well, it's now 2016 and almost nine years have passed since Canada signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, and six years since Canada ratified it. Though Canada was one of the first to sign the convention, it did not follow through with action on Article 33 (which requires setting up a monitoring system), or the signing and ratification of the convention's Protocol (which makes Canada accountable for honouring the convention).
While good intentions are necessary they are not sufficient. Action is also needed, and soon, because children with intellectual disabilities are still being placed in segregated classes or schools, in sheltered workshops earning pennies a day, and even in seniors' homes prematurely!
As for the families supporting children who lead good lives at home and in the community, their knowledge, experience, and passion are often ignored, and neither the Charter of Rights nor the UN Convention have empowered them to lead the way. Instead, they must look backward in advocating for their children's inclusion by reminding Canadians how large institutions once kept persons with disabilities away from their families and friends in the community.
In these and other ways, Canada may not be living up to the convention, but its performance cannot be monitored and measured by Protocol standards because Canada has not adopted it despite its obligation to honour the rights of persons with disabilities. In so doing, it would protect these vulnerable people and empower Canadians families to advocate for their full inclusion in society.
Prime Minister Trudeau, you have demonstrated that it will not be business as usual in Ottawa, and that you will not shower families with mere lip-service and tax-credits during elections. You have given us hope that sunny ways will shine a welcome light on persons with disabilities and their families as well as on indigenous people and climate change.
Please remember to act without further delay on Article 33 and the Protocol as your government prepares the much anticipated National Disabilities Act to safeguard disability rights, reduce barriers and increase opportunities for Canadians with disabilities. After all, it's 2016 and many thousands of families who signed the petition from across Canada, and added their compelling comments, are counting on you to put these items on your ambitious agenda.
Salvatore (Sal) Amenta, PhD
14788 Kennedy Rd.,
Stouffville, Ontario L4A 7X5
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