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Letter: UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Nova Scotia’s midterm grade

Nova Scotians who have read the End of Mission Statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, (CDA) on her April visit to Canada will have recognized the critical tone of a good teacher. People should be dismayed at the lack of progress. Government at all levels demonstrates enormous resistance to change. She starts on a positive note, “warmly thanking the Government of Canada for the invitation to visit the country .” Quickly and accurately she begins to describe a haphazard and halfhearted implementation. It’s a good thing this is a practice exam, otherwise Canada would get an F.

I’m not a great fan of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), but I am in full agreement with Ms. Devandas-Aguilar’s observations. Generally speaking, we shouldn’t need the UN to tell us what’s right, but CDA is smart, outspoken and fearless. Her statement is perceptive, wide-ranging and devastating. In these two quotes, she’s talking about recent Human Rights cases in Nova Scotia:

“more proactive governmental responses are needed to ensure systemic change and take away from individuals the burden of initiating lengthy and onerous legal procedures to achieve the recognition and enjoyment of their rights. There is an urgent need for high-level leadership at the federal, provincial and territorial levels to guide and guarantee an effective and coordinated implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities across Canada.”

“I am extremely concerned about the lack of comprehensive responses to guarantee the access of persons with disabilities to the support they need to live independently in their communities. Whereas legislation, services and programmes vary across provinces and territories, generally access to support is not considered as a right, but rather as a social assistance programme dependent on the availability of services.”

After an unrelenting catalogue of failures, CDA ends by saying:

“As a highly-developed nation, Canada still lags behind in the implementation of its obligations under the CRPD. ”  

Canada is failing in its treaty obligations.  But it’s only people with disabilities. Not me. right?

See also: Stats Canada: One out of three Nova Scotians lives with disabilities

Warren (Gus) Reed writes about accessibility issues on the website of the James McGregor Stewart Society.

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