Historic steps in recognizing human rights of Canadians with disabilities

On December 3, 2018, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Government of Canada announced that with the support of all provinces and territories Canada has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This means that Canadians can now make complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of violations of their rights guaranteed under the CRPD. As well, it means that Canada will allow the UN body responsible for the CRPD to undertake systemic inquiries into rights violations in Canada. In doing so, Canada has equipped persons with disabilities, both as individuals and as groups, with new avenues to seek justice and defend their rights.

Second, the government announced its intention to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to empower the Canadian Human Rights Commission to monitor the federal implementation of the CRPD in Canada independently, and to ensure the Commission has the resources for this purpose. The CRPD calls for the appointment of an independent monitoring mechanism, and so this is another step in bringing Canada fully into compliance with the treaty.

Ontario Government Announces Social Assistance Reforms

On November 22, 2018, the PC government announced reforms to social assistance in Ontario. Following a 100-day review of Ontario Works (“OW”) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (“ODSP”), Minister Lisa MacLeod criticized the current system, stating that it created a “cycle of dependence” and proposed a complete over-haul of the system and its administration.

While the government spends $10 billion on social assistance annually for 1 million people, the Minister claimed that one in seven remain in poverty. In addition, half of the people on OW who successfully transition into the workforce end up coming back into the system. The Minister emphasized the need for a “wrap-around” approach that would empower individuals, rather than “police” them. For persons with disabilities, the Minister underscored simplifying programs, reducing red tape and allowing for greater flexibility.

While details are sparse, here is what we know about the PC plan to improve social assistance:

Definition of Disability for ODSP: The government intends to align the definition of disability with the federal standard, while those already on ODSP would be grandfathered into the system.

ODSP Eligibility: Financial eligibility for ODSP will be reviewed annually, rather than monthly.

ODSP Earning Exemption: Those on ODSP will receive a flat $6,000 annual exemption, without reducing their assistance. Twenty-five percent of earnings above $6,000 would be exempt. This is $1,200 more per year than the Liberals provided for earlier this year.

OW Earning Exemption: Recipients of OW will be able to earn up to $300 per month, without reducing their assistance (up from $200). Twenty-five percent of subsequent earnings would be exempt. Exemptions would start after one month on assistance, rather than after the usual three-month waiting period.

LIFT Credit: The Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax Credit (“LIFT”) will allow individuals earning nearly $30,000 per year to keep an extra $850 annually.

Multi-ministerial Approach: Minister MacLeod was joined by the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities during the announcement and highlighted the need for greater coordination among ministries.

Locally Focused Services: Municipal partners will be empowered to deliver services locally, including the creation of a local OW discretionary fund. The government has also tabled legislation on November 21, 2018 establishing a “Social Assistance Research Commission,” an advisory group appointed by the Lieutenant Governor that will recommend ODSP and OW rates for each region in Ontario based on economic geography and the cost of living.

Website: A new website has been launched to better match job seekers to employers (Ontario.ca/openforbusiness).

Child Support Ordered in Precedent Setting Case



 A Brampton single mother’s quest for support for her adult son with disabilities concludes with court    order for the estranged father to pay $518 a month indefinitely. Ruling is the final chapter in a   constitutional challenge that changed provincial legislation.


OHRC Releases Policy on Accessible Education

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has released its new Policy on accessible education for students with disabilitiesalong with recommendations on how to best meet legal obligations under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

The policy:

  • recognizes that education is vitally important to a person’s social, academic and economic development
  • reflects a broad definition of disability
  • provides students and families with up-to-date information about their human rights and responsibilities
  • offers practical guidance to education providers to meet their legal duty to accommodate
  • reminds schools of their obligation to maintain accessible, inclusive, discrimination and harassment-free spaces.

The recommendations set out actions the government, schools and post-secondary institutions should take to make the education system inclusive, function effectively and allow students with disabilities to thrive.

“All students have the right to an education that allows them to meet their full potential and contribute to society, and yet students with disabilities continue to face obstacles accessing education services in Ontario,” said OHRC Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane.

BCCL & Caledon Public Library Art Gala


On July 12, 2018, Brampton Caledon Community Living’s Caledon Connections in conjunction with the Caledon Public Library held their opening night art gala. The exhibit, Endless Possibilities, will be displayed on the upper floor of the Albion – Bolton library branch until Sept 12th, 2018.

The evening was attended by artists, family members and BCCL Staff. We were also fortunate to have Caledon Mayor Alan Thompson and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Sylvia Jones attend the show. They both congratulated the artists on their work and spoke about the talented people we have in Caledon. The Caledon Library, who is a great supporter of BCCL, presented the artists with a token of their appreciation for the display of their work.

Caledon Connections & Caledon Library

Ontario court strikes down 10% limit on a registered charity’s non-partisan political activities

On July 16, 2018, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision in Canada Without Poverty v A.G. (Canada) (2018 ONSC 4147). The court ruled that:

-the 10% limit on a registered charity’s spending on non-partisan political activities is unconstitutional

-the definition of “charitable activities” in the Income Tax Act (ITA) includes non-partisan “political activities” if the activity is in support of the charity’s charitable mandate, and partisan political activities (i.e. advocating for a political party or candidate) remain prohibited.

As a result, a registered charity may devote more than 10% of its resources on non-partisan political activities (i.e. public advocacy that supports its charitable mission) without jeopardizing its registered charity status.

The decision provides more freedom to registered charities to engage in public advocacy, which for many charities is critical to carrying out their charitable mandates. At the time of publication, the Attorney General had not appealed the court’s decision.

If Inclusion Means Everyone, Why Not Me?



Students face “daunting” academic and social barriers that can leave them excluded, vulnerable to bullying and set them up for low expectations for the future, said the report, a joint project by experts in disabilities law and education.


Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs (OASIS) has launched its #developmental services matter pre-election campaign to raise awareness about the lack of funding for the developmental services sector.  Without adequate funding, community agencies can only do so much. Let’s do our share to help agencies succeed in helping others. Go to the links below to share your story in the comments to show families and agencies that they are not alone.  



Inclusive Education Month Week 4

The benefits of inclusive education

· Students with disabilities can acquire basic communication and motor skills through interactions with peers without disabilities who provide them with cues, prompts and consequences.
· Findings suggested that students with disabilities in mainstreamed classrooms made greater overall academic gains than did their peers with similar disabilities in segregated classrooms
· The inclusive classrooms focused instruction to a significant extent on academics (72% of the time) as compared to the segregated setting (24% of the time). Peer to peer instruction was more common in inclusive (18%) than in segregated settings.
· Students with disabilities can learn, be accepted and interact with other students in their environment
· Inclusion facilitates more appropriate social behaviour because of higher expectations in the general education classroom.
· Inclusion promotes levels of achievement higher or at least as high as those achieved in self-contained classrooms.
· Inclusion offers a wide circle of support including social support from classmates without disabilities.
· Improves the ability of students and teachers to adapt to different teaching and learning styles.
· Students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms talked and spent more time with their schoolmates while engaged in particular activities that students in special education classrooms.
· Studies indicate that students in inclusive settings avoided low self-esteem that can result from placement in a special education setting.
· Social competence and communication skills improve in inclusive settings.

For more information on Inclusive education go to :http://inclusiveeducation.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2013/07/Commentary-Booklet-FINAL.pdf