Increasingly, people with disabilities are reaping the benefits of citizenship. A few examples illustrate this point. “In the ’70s, a big, blue, inaccessible bus with the words ‘Society for Crippled Children and Adults’ painted on its side was the only transportation for Winnipeggers with disabilities,” says Laurie Beachell, CCD’s National Coordinator.“Wheelchair users were carried up several steps when boarding or exiting this bus, soevery trip had an undignified beginning and end.” Today, Winnipeggers with disabilities have various accessible transportation options. In Sydney, Nova Scotia, Paul Young, a former chairperson of the CCD and of People First of Canada, began his career ina sheltered workshop and then went on to become a CBC employee.In the early ’90s, we went to court to secure the right to vote for people with disabilities in institutions. This year, Canadians elected to Parliament the Hon. Steven Fletcher and Manon Perreault—two Canadians with mobility impairments. Mr. Fletcher is now Minister of State (Transport) and Ms.Perrault was named NDP Disability Critic.
Working strategically with other sectors, people with disabilities and our organizations have shattered stereotypes and altered practices around disability. The organizations that comprise the disability community have a wide range of allies. Along with our civil society partners, the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and Canada Without Poverty (CWP), CCD will be celebrating the disability community’s last 30 years of achievement at End Exclusion 2011. During the evening of Nov. 2, participants will celebrate the allies of the disability movement who have been working with us to promote an accessible and inclusive Canada.
Extending Our Progress
“Despite the fact that great strides have been made with respect to making the social environment accessible and inclusive, there continue to be major disparities in the area of income which distinguish people with disabilities from people without disabilities,” says Marie White, Chairperson of CCD’s Social Policy Committee. “We are moms and dads, we are workers and the unemployed, we are renters and homeowners, and we are Canadians with disabilities. We are citizens of one of the best places to live in the world; however, we are not sharing Canada’s prosperity to the same degree as are Canadians without disabilities.” CCD has been working to develop a prosperity agenda for people with disabilities through its project, “Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship.”
Such topics as basic income and provincial poverty reduction strategies have been the focus of the research team, led by Yvonne Peters and Michael Prince.
On Nov. 3, the “Disabling Poverty/ Enabling Citizenship” project team will animate a conversation with participants about the policy innovations needed to address disability poverty. “Participants’ feedback will help guide some high-level research on disability policy,” says Tony Dolan. “Day two of End Exclusion is your opportunity to contribute to a prosperity plan for Canadians with disabilities.”