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Highlights of Recent AEBC Activities

AEBC Meets with the Minister of National Revenue Concerning New System of Blindness Verification

Beryl Williams & Judy Prociuk met with the Honourable Carol Skelton, Minister of National Revenue, concerning the need for a method of blindness verification by the federal government, as provided for in membership resolution 2005-08, so that we do not need to obtain a doctor's letter each time we wish to qualify for programs and services.

2005-08: Registered Blindness Identification

Therefore, be it resolved at this Convention in Ottawa, April 2005, that the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians [AEBC] actively advocate, through all appropriate Government authorities, for the provision of an appropriate system of registration for Canadians, who fall within the eligibility criteria required for all current and future public and private exemptions, benefits and services available to them across Canada.

After a wide-ranging discussion on various options, Ms. Skelton said she would send the four recommendations from AEBC's brief to the Ministers of health and Human Resources and Social Development, and will get back to us by email.

For further background on this issue, please see AEBC's Brief on our website at: www.blindcanadians.ca/press_releases/index.php?BriefID=33 (opens in a new window)

AEBC Participates in CCD Council and AGM

At June's National Council and Annual General meetings of the Council of Canadians With Disabilities (CCD), CCD's 30 years of work was celebrated, and lively discussions took place on a possible national disability act and the state of the United States disability rights movement.

Marie White was re-elected for a third two-year term as Chair of CCD, and AEBC's President, John Rae, was elected 1st Vice President on the CCD executive.

AEBC Active in Ontario Human Rights Controversy

The introduction of Bill 107: the Human Rights Code Amendment Act into the Ontario Legislature has prompted considerable controversy among human rights advocates in Ontario. The Bill is designed to overhaul the way in which human rights complaints are dealt with in Ontario.

Both sides agree the Ontario Human Rights Commission could use improvement. Supporters of the Bill believe the proposed new system will greatly streamline the consideration of individual complaints and give more time for work on systemic cases, while opponents fear the new system will only weaken the current level of protection and make it tougher for complainants to gain redress from discrimination.

Three days of public hearings took place in August in London, Ottawa and Thunder Bay respectively, and further hearings are to be scheduled in Toronto this fall. The AEBC has applied to appear at the Toronto hearings and is currently preparing a Brief, which will be available soon in the Briefs section of our website www.blindcanadians.ca (opens in a new window) or by contacting our National Office.

For further information on this debate, visit the Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act's website at: www.aodaalliance.org (opens in a new window)

AEBC Active in Human Rights Cases

Making use of the legal protection that is in place is important in enforcing our rights. As a human rights organization, the AEBC is called upon to assist both members and non-members in pursuing cases before human rights commissions or the courts.

We are currently involved in cases regarding inaccessibility of Canada's electoral system, access to the education system, the extent to which a driver's licence can be considered a bona fide occupational requirement, and access to commercial websites.

For further information, please contact John Rae, AEBC President, at: rae@blindcanadians.ca

AEBC Participates in CATSA Act Review

The AEBC submitted a Brief, entitled "TRAVELING WITH DIGNITY," and Joyce Main participated in the Toronto hearing of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) Act Review. The AEBC Brief and discussion focused on the need for consistent treatment by CATSA staff, increased and ongoing consultation with representatives from the disabled community, and ongoing training.

The Brief can be found on our website at: www.blindcanadians.ca/press_releases/index.php?BriefID=35 (opens in a new window)

Draft United Nations Convention Adopted

On August 25, 2006, the Draft UN Convention on the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities was adopted in New York.

DPI (Disabled Peoples' International) Chair, Venus Ilagan, commented: "At the beginning of the current negotiations process, DPI made clear our view that there were no human rights to which disabled people do not lay claim. The draft instrument accepted here today recognizes and entrenches our rights in the UN Human Rights framework, and in this way is a huge victory for us all."

The next step is adoption by the UN General Assembly, after which the process of gaining ratification by nation states must be secured.

For a copy of the text of the draft Convention and Optional Protocol, please visit www.un.org/disabilities/convention or contact: Edoardo Bellando, UN Department of Public Information, Tel. (212) 963-8275, Email: bellando@un.org

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