[Hpn] After 25 years, it's about time we took action

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sat, 05 Aug 2006 06:16:31 -0400


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After 25 years, it's about time we took action

Aug. 5, 2006

HELEN HENDERSON


This is a rallying cry.=20

More than 3 million Canadians live with a disability. More than 2.3 =
million families support someone with special needs.=20

Twenty-five years ago, in the International Year of Disabled Persons, a =
special federal committee called for "legislative, fiscal and =
organizational initiatives" to dismantle the obstacles that conspire to =
keep most people with disabilities mired in poverty, exhausted and =
generally excluded from society.=20

As committee chair David Smith put it: "Disabled persons are not asking =
... for a hand out, but for a hand up, so that they can build for =
themselves lives of independent choice and action."=20

A quarter of a century later, we have made many strides.=20

On paper, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes protection from =
discrimination on the basis of disability. We have a permanent federal =
standing committee on the status of people with disabilities and a Prime =
Minister who came to power promising to pass a national disability =
rights act.=20

A number of provinces, including Ontario, have passed legislation =
purporting to guarantee access to everything from education to =
transportation. And across the country, hundreds of groups work =
tirelessly for change. But in practice, too many people are still on the =
outside looking in, isolated, worn down by red tape and attitudes that =
make day-to-day living so unnecessarily difficult.=20

Now a movement - spearheaded by the Council of Canadians with =
Disabilities and the Canadian Association for Community Living - is =
calling for everyone to join forces for meaningful change.=20

Look at http://www.endexclusion.ca, sign the Declaration To Create An =
Inclusive And Accessible Canada, tell the group your personal hopes, =
dreams, struggles, barriers and accomplishments and help work toward a =
united, constructive Parliament Hill forum scheduled for Thursday, Nov. =
2.=20

The group hopes to take to Ottawa stories from every region, community, =
city, town and constituency in the country.=20

"We want to raise the profile of people with disabilities," says Marie =
White, chair of the Council of Canadians With Disabilities. "This is not =
a charity issue. This is not a whiney website.=20

"We need research on how programs across the country interact. We need =
to ask the question: why are people so poor? We need to speak with a =
unity of purpose and build on the work we've been doing for the last =
three or four years."=20

In formal terms, the goals are:=20

a.. To talk with federal, provincial and territorial politicians about =
how to expand disability supports and address the poverty and exclusion =
of Canadians with disabilities.=20

a.. To mobilize a countrywide collaboration within the disability =
community and beyond.=20

a.. To help everyone get a better understanding of what it's like to =
cope with disabilities.=20

"Despite progress in the last two decades, Canadians with disabilities =
and their families still face significant barriers," the group notes. =
"It is clear that the experience of exclusion, poverty and isolation ... =
continues. This is unacceptable in a country as prosperous as Canada."=20

Over the last 25 years, "there's no doubt things have got better," says =
Laurie Beachell, national co-ordinator of the Council of Canadians With =
Disabilities.=20

"The question is: why aren't they a heck of a lot better? Huge =
challenges remain. Lives are still devalued. The majority of human =
rights complaints still relate to disability issues."=20

As John Rae, president of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, =
puts it in the latest edition of ARCH Alert, published by ARCH =
Disability Law Centre: "The purpose of sharing stories publicly is to =
weave together the personal, political, private and public experiences =
of Canadians with various disabilities, illuminating the challenges =
related to making disability rights a reality throughout Canada."=20

The Declaration To Create An Inclusive And Accessible Canada is guided =
by the principles and values of full citizenship through equality, =
self-determination and accessibility.=20

Among other things, it emphasizes that:=20

a.. Canadians with disabilities have equal right to full inclusion and =
citizenship and should be valued, contributing members of our =
communities.=20

a.. Disability is part of human diversity and should be celebrated as =
such.=20

a.. Canadians with disabilities and their families continue to face =
significant barriers to full citizenship.=20

a.. Exclusion and a lack of access to disability supports perpetuate =
unemployment and poverty.=20

a.. All levels of government, the disability community and civil society =
need to work together to develop partnerships to facilitate the active =
citizenship and full inclusion of persons with disabilities.=20

a.. A long-term national strategy is essential to address these issues.=20

Check it all out, tell others and help spread the word. Together, =
there's no telling what we can do.=20


-------------------------------------------------------------------------=
-------
Write: Helen Henderson, Life Section, Toronto Star, One Yonge St., =
Toronto, Ont. M5E 1E6.=20

Email: hhenderson@thestar.ca.



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31147</A></FONT></DIV>
<DIV class=3Dheadline>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dheadline>After 25 years, it's about time we took =
action</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dheadline>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dpubdate>Aug.&nbsp;5, 2006</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dpubdate>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dbyline><A=20
href=3D"http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=3Dthestar=
/Render&amp;c=3DPage&amp;cid=3D991479973472&amp;ce=3DColumnist&amp;colid=3D=
989556577025">HELEN=20
HENDERSON</A></DIV><BR>
<DIV class=3Darticlebody><!-- icx_story_begin -->This is a rallying cry. =

<P></P>More than 3 million Canadians live with a disability. More than =
2.3=20
million families support someone with special needs.=20
<P></P>Twenty-five years ago, in the International Year of Disabled =
Persons, a=20
special federal committee called for "legislative, fiscal and =
organizational=20
initiatives" to dismantle the obstacles that conspire to keep most =
people with=20
disabilities mired in poverty, exhausted and generally excluded from =
society.=20
<P></P>As committee chair David Smith put it: "Disabled persons are not =
asking=20
... for a hand out, but for a hand up, so that they can build for =
themselves=20
lives of independent choice and action."=20
<P></P>A quarter of a century later, we have made many strides.=20
<P></P>On paper, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes protection =
from=20
discrimination on the basis of disability. We have a permanent federal =
standing=20
committee on the status of people with disabilities and a Prime Minister =
who=20
came to power promising to pass a national disability rights act.=20
<P></P>A number of provinces, including Ontario, have passed legislation =

purporting to guarantee access to everything from education to =
transportation.=20
And across the country, hundreds of groups work tirelessly for change. =
But in=20
practice, too many people are still on the outside looking in, isolated, =
worn=20
down by red tape and attitudes that make day-to-day living so =
unnecessarily=20
difficult.=20
<P></P>Now a movement =97 spearheaded by the Council of Canadians with=20
Disabilities and the Canadian Association for Community Living =97 is =
calling for=20
everyone to join forces for meaningful change.=20
<P></P>Look at <A href=3D"http://www.endexclusion.ca/"=20
target=3D_blank>http://www.endexclusion.ca</A>, sign the Declaration To =
Create An=20
Inclusive And Accessible Canada, tell the group your personal hopes, =
dreams,=20
struggles, barriers and accomplishments and help work toward a united,=20
constructive Parliament Hill forum scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 2.=20
<P></P>The group hopes to take to Ottawa stories from every region, =
community,=20
city, town and constituency in the country.=20
<P></P>"We want to raise the profile of people with disabilities," says =
Marie=20
White, chair of the Council of Canadians With Disabilities. "This is not =
a=20
charity issue. This is not a whiney website.=20
<P></P>"We need research on how programs across the country interact. We =
need to=20
ask the question: why are people so poor? We need to speak with a unity =
of=20
purpose and build on the work we've been doing for the last three or =
four=20
years."=20
<P></P>In formal terms, the goals are:=20
<P></P>
<LI>To talk with federal, provincial and territorial politicians about =
how to=20
expand disability supports and address the poverty and exclusion of =
Canadians=20
with disabilities.=20
<P></P>
<LI>To mobilize a countrywide collaboration within the disability =
community and=20
beyond.=20
<P></P>
<LI>To help everyone get a better understanding of what it's like to =
cope with=20
disabilities.=20
<P></P>"Despite progress in the last two decades, Canadians with =
disabilities=20
and their families still face significant barriers," the group notes. =
"It is=20
clear that the experience of exclusion, poverty and isolation ... =
continues.=20
This is unacceptable in a country as prosperous as Canada."=20
<P></P>Over the last 25 years, "there's no doubt things have got =
better," says=20
Laurie Beachell, national co-ordinator of the Council of Canadians With=20
Disabilities.=20
<P></P>"The question is: why aren't they a heck of a lot better? Huge =
challenges=20
remain. Lives are still devalued. The majority of human rights =
complaints still=20
relate to disability issues."=20
<P></P>As John Rae, president of the Alliance for Equality of Blind =
Canadians,=20
puts it in the latest edition of <I>ARCH Alert</I>, published by ARCH =
Disability=20
Law Centre: "The purpose of sharing stories publicly is to weave =
together the=20
personal, political, private and public experiences of Canadians with =
various=20
disabilities, illuminating the challenges related to making disability =
rights a=20
reality throughout Canada."=20
<P></P>The Declaration To Create An Inclusive And Accessible Canada is =
guided by=20
the principles and values of full citizenship through equality,=20
self-determination and accessibility.=20
<P></P>Among other things, it emphasizes that:=20
<P></P>
<LI>Canadians with disabilities have equal right to full inclusion and=20
citizenship and should be valued, contributing members of our =
communities.=20
<P></P>
<LI>Disability is part of human diversity and should be celebrated as =
such.=20
<P></P>
<LI>Canadians with disabilities and their families continue to face =
significant=20
barriers to full citizenship.=20
<P></P>
<LI>Exclusion and a lack of access to disability supports perpetuate=20
unemployment and poverty.=20
<P></P>
<LI>All levels of government, the disability community and civil society =
need to=20
work together to develop partnerships to facilitate the active =
citizenship and=20
full inclusion of persons with disabilities.=20
<P></P>
<LI>A long-term national strategy is essential to address these issues.=20
<P></P>Check it all out, tell others and help spread the word. Together, =
there's=20
no telling what we can do.=20
<P></P>
<HR width=3D"90%">
</HR><I>Write: Helen Henderson, Life Section, Toronto Star, One Yonge =
St.,=20
Toronto, Ont. M5E 1E6.=20
<P></P>Email: <A=20
href=3D"mailto:hhenderson@thestar.ca">hhenderson@thestar.ca</A>.</I></LI>=
</DIV></DIV>

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