Physician-Assisted Death in Canada
Sometimes decisions made by our elected representatives or by court challenges can fundamentally change the way we live our lives up to and including what happens at the end of our lives. The landmark February decision of the Carter Case by the Supreme Court of Canada is one such decision that has the potential to alter end-of-life for all Canadians. Many Canadians with disabilities are extremely concerned about the implications of this ruling.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision has declared that a law that makes it illegal for anyone to help people end their own lives should be amended to allow doctors to help in specific situations. The ruling applies to competent adults with enduring, intolerable suffering who clearly consent to ending their lives. This is a divisive issue because for many people with disabilities, the source of suffering comes from stigma surrounding their disability and from a lack of proper care and support.
The court has suspended its decision for 12 months, giving the government enough time to amend its laws to allow for assisted suicide in Canada. ACCD’s national affiliate, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, has taken on the important task of drafting suggested guidelines which must be in place to ensure that people with disabilities are not negatively affected by the new legislation. In drafting these guidelines, many important considerations must be highlighted. First and foremost in these considerations is the physical and emotional well-being of those who would meet the qualifications for assisted suicide. Care for all people must be both broad in scope and of excellent quality, encompassing every aspect of wellness. Mental health concerns such as depression must be considered and treated with equal importance as physical health. Furthermore, a holistic view of every person’s situation must be taken to include conditions such as poverty, isolation, discrimination, devaluation and lack of other needed supports.
Canada will soon join only a handful of jurisdictions in the world which allow for physician-assisted suicide. It is therefore our society’s responsibility to set an example that is based on inclusive collaboration and negotiation toward fairness for all parties.
The importance of the voices of Canadians with disabilities at this time cannot be understated; as such, we encourage all to contact their elected official with their concerns or comments. Please visit http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members to find contact information for your member of parliament.
A federal election has been set for Monday, October 19. Are you registered to vote? Elections Canada is providing a number of tools and services at your local polling station to improve accessibility. These include a magnifier with a light, tactile and Braille voting templates, Braille lists of candidates and assistance in marking the ballot. Sign language interpretation is also available if requested ahead of time. This is an exciting election which is looking to be a close race – this means it is all the more important for Albertans with disabilities to have their voices heard! For more information on this election visit www.elections.ca or get in touch with ACCD at 780-488-9088 or toll-free at 1-800-387-2514.
Alberta’s Public Libraries Welcome People with Disabilities
Last month, we asked staff in public libraries from across the province what they wanted people with disabilities to know about the libraries in their communities. A chorus of them responded to say, “There is something for everyone in our library!” The librarian in Olds said it best: “So many of our programs could be enriched by having citizens with disabilities a part of them.”
A library card opens a world of books, movies, audiobooks, and, if you’re eligible for them, accessible audiobooks and e-books for people with print disabilities (which includes anyone who can’t see well enough to read, can’t hold a book or turn the pages, and/or can’t understand a book by reading it). Libraries are changing, along with technology, and many things are possible now that were barely dreams two years ago.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that librarians love to hear from people who say, “Hello. I would like to learn about what the library might have to offer me.” Librarians, you know, can’t resist that kind of challenge…
Libraries are in our communities because our stories are important and because our stories are for everyone. If you’re looking for an adventure, a good story, or ideas for how to make something happen, head for your public library. You never know what you’ll find — or who!
ACCD Dental, Eye Care & Pharmacy Research Initiative
As you may know, ACCD has been working on a research initiative on Accessible Dental, Eye Care and Pharmacy Services in Alberta. This project has involved reaching out into Albertan communities through focus groups, questionnaires and accessibility assessments.
We were pleased to have received a strong response to our questionnaire both by Albertans with disabilities and by health service providers throughout Alberta, and thank all participants for their time and contribution to these surveys.
We recently visited the northern Alberta communities of Slave Lake and Grande Prairie to complete accessibility assessments of a variety of service providers. Together with our previous work in southern and central Alberta, we have now completed the accessibility assessment portion of our project.
The data from these sources is presently being compiled for use in a report which will feature recommendations for the enhanced accessibility of health and medical services in Alberta for use by people with disabilities. For more information on this project, please contact ACCD at 780-488-9088 or toll-free at 1-800-387-2514.
Education for Life Bursary Award Recipients
In celebration of our 25th anniversary in 1998, ACCD established the Education for Life Bursary. The purpose of this bursary is to help students with disabilities overcome financial barriers to post-secondary education. This year ACCD awarded $5000 to nine students.
We are pleased to announce this year’s Education for Life Bursary recipients:
Colby Brunner, Calgary
Stephanie Simpson, Edmonton
Seth Claussen, Calgary
Leona Sudom, Medicine Hat
Blair Kaiser, Edmonton
Michael Wynnychuk, Red Deer
Naomi Park, Calgary
Gavin Jaegar-Freeborn, Calgary
The Elsa Marie Lodewyk Memorial Bursary was established by Mr. and Mrs. Lodewyk, parents of Elsa Marie Lodewyk who lived 19 years with severe Cerebral Palsy. The Lodewyk family provides $1,000 to an Albertan student with a disability each year to reflect Elsa’s generosity, kindness and gentleness. We are pleased to announce that Shailynn Taylor is the recipient of the 2015 Elsa Marie Lodewyk Memorial Bursary. Elsa would have been thrilled to know that she was helping a student with a disability.
Congratulations to all of the 2015 bursary recipients!
Save the Date! You are invited to ACCD’s Open House
Date: December 4, 2015
Time: 3:00 - 6:00 pm
Location: 106 - 10423 178 Street
Each year ACCD celebrates
International Day of Persons with Disabilities by hosting an open house event at the ACCD offices. Come and join us as we meet with old friends and newcomers, let you know about the work that ACCD and ADF are doing and enjoy refreshments and merriment! Parking is available on the west side of the parking lot. Accessible parking is available next to the building’s south side entrance.
Americans with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary
This summer the United States celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation and prohibits discrimination based on any type of disability. The Act is applicable to a variety of areas including employment, public services, commercial services, transportation, telecommunications and more.
The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990, and, though widely lauded by the disability community, famously encountered opposition from various interests. Many members of the business community including the US Chamber of Commerce argued that the costs involved with accommodating disability would be an obstacle for small businesses. In response, President George H. W. Bush stated, “We’ve all been determined to ensure that it gives flexibility, particularly in terms of the timetable of implementation; and we’ve been committed to containing the costs that may be incurred.... Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”
Though Canada does not have a federal equivalent to the ADA, discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited at the provincial level by the Human Rights Commission of each province. Many Canadians have called for the establishment of federal legislation similar to the ADA. For both countries, accommodation for disability is still a topic which represents a huge portion of human rights violation claims. While there continues to be work to be done advancing disability rights in North America, the ADA still represents a huge milestone and has been a hallmark around the world encouraging the development of disability civil rights in international forums and in countries everywhere.
Become a Member of ACCD! Do you share ACCD’s commitment to ensuring that Albertans with disabilities are fully able to participate in society? Do you have a disability? Do you have a friend or family member who has a disability? Are you an employer interested in inclusive hiring practices?
Are you interested in learning about different types of disabilities and how to accommodate a variety of needs? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, please consider becoming a member of ACCD to support Alberta’s only provincial, cross-disability organization of and for people with disabilities. To become a member, visit www.accd.net/support-accd.
2015-2016 ACCD Board of Directors
Kent Hodgins, President (Medicine Hat)
Weslyn Mather, Past President (Edmonton)
Margot Brunner-Campbell, VP (Red Deer)
Art Erickson, Treasurer (Wabamun)
Ian Young, Secretary & CCD Rep (Edmonton)
Denise Braun, Director (La Crete)
Betty Doerksen, Director (La Crete)
Cindy Kuhl, Director (Milk River)
Ava Morasch, Director (Calgary)
Earle Snider, Director (Edmonton)
Michelle Bissell, Nominating (Edmonton)
Did you know that you can support ACCD by donating your car? Any vehicle counts. For more information about this type of donation, please go to the Donate a Car Canada link on www.accd.net. Thank you for donating your car to ACCD.
Accessibility in Alberta
ACCD continues to develop our expertise in accessibility assessments through a wide variety of community engagements. Our ongoing commitment to attend building inspections with the City of Edmonton occupancy inspection crew provides us with an opportunity to advise on optimal accessibility for new builds and major renovations in Edmonton. We are glad to be working consultatively in a number of new projects important to Albertans with disabilities, including ETS and libraries throughout the province. Stay tuned for new developments in our campaign for a more accessible Alberta!
Royal Alberta Museum
Construction is currently underway for the new downtown location of the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton. Set to open late 2017 or early 2018, the museum will feature more than twice the space for exhibits and amenities, and as a modern building will be more accessible for people with disabilities. ACCD is working along with the Museum in consultation on accessibility issues. For more information please contact ACCD at 780-488-9088 or toll-free at 1-800-387-2514.
Did You Know?
For people who are hard of hearing, noisy public spaces can interfere with their hearing aid’s ability to produce a clear and recognizable signal. There are various assistive listening technologies available to help provide a clearer signal for the listener; these include transmission through FM radio, infrared light, and through a magnetic system known as an audio induction loop or “hearing loop”.
Hearing loops rely on cables installed in the area that generate a magnetic field around the listener. This field is picked up by compatible hearing aids and cochlear implants, allowing the sound source of interest to be transmitted more clearly and free of other distracting noise. Hearing loop systems are considered by many to offer much clearer signal than the alternatives. Though these systems are more expensive than FM transmission, they are considered the standard in many countries such as the United Kingdom and are seeing increased adoption in North America.
Around Alberta Calendar of Events
Nonprofit Emergency Preparedness Symposium
Hosted by the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations
October 21, 2015, Calgary Zoo, Calgary AB
For more information, visit www.calgarycvo.org
International Competition for Artists with Disabilities
Hosted by Phoenix Sister Cities
November 6, 2015, Warehouse 1005 Studio, Phoenix AZ
For more information, visit http://bit.ly/1KjW7tK
Accelerating Primary Care Conference
Hosted by the Primary Care Network Program Management Office
November 6 – 7, 2015, Hyatt Regency, Calgary AB
For more information, visit www.pcnpmo.ca
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Hosted by The City of Edmonton
December 3, 2015 , Edmonton AB
For more information, visit www.idpdedmonton.ca
CCD Award Nomination Notice
ACCD will once again present the Council of Canadians with Disabilities Award to a deserving Albertan who is dedicated to the “pursuit of full participation in society by people with disabilities.” If you know an Albertan whose commitment to the disability community deserves recognition, you can nominate them for this award to honour their dedication.
The recipient of this annual award will be presented with a plaque and will be featured on the ACCD website, as well as in ACCD’s newsletter and annual report.
Nomination forms are available online at www.accd.net/what-we-do/bursaries-and-awards or by calling 780-488-9088 or toll free at 1-800-387-2514.
The deadline for nominations is December 31, 2015.