Even before the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, there was real thought being put into the potential development of a Canadians with Disabilities Act. It began with the structuring of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and has found its permanence with other large scale developments such as the development of UN policy and focus on the inclusion of people with disabilities.
The real question is what would it look like? Would it be a federal precept of what already exists in Ontario? Would be it a tool cut from a similar cloth as the Canadian Human Commission? A paper was published in 2010 by the Canadian Disability Policy Alliance (1) on the subject of the validity of a Canadians with Disabilities Act. In it, there is thorough examination of Canadian disability policy within federal programs, legislation and services. The arguments against a federal act that are summarized within the paper are based on the fact that Canada already has a robust framework for evolving human rights and anti-discrimination (2). Granted, Canada did not sign the UN Optional protocol and it already has systems in place to hear complaints and launch investigations at the provincial and federal level.
One cannot venture to guess what it will look like because the development of such a framework will require throughout country wide examinations of the matrix that is created between policy, people and rights. Canada now is at a turning point, and we have an elected official who is mandated to create a disability act. The Honorable Carla Qualtrough is also a person with a disability herself. To echo Justin Trudeau, it is 2015, and the mandate is clear.
While the dust settles from the election, we shall wait and see how it begins to take shape as a positive and modern representation of Canada.
Canadian Disability Policy Alliance. A Canadian Disability Act? www.canadiandisabilitypolicyallaince.ca Last accessed 11/23/2015
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