BC Epilepsy Society Blog
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – What does it mean for Canadians?
Recently I attended a community forum hosted by the Disability Advisory Committee of the Community Legal Assistance Society. This was held on December 10th, 2010, which is also the International Day of Human Rights.
The forum was called Honouring the Convention: A Call to Action in BC. The goal was to form new strategies in order to make the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a reality for people with disabilities in BC and across Canada.
On March 11, 2010, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), the newest international human rights treaty.
Parties to the UN Convention are required to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.
Speakers at the forum were representatives from non-profit and government agencies who work with people with disabilities and in legal advocacy. The forum included sessions on: information on the Convention from a community perspective, the federal experience in negotiating and ratifying the Convention, the promise of the Convention for people with disabilities, the potential of the Convention articles, and strategies for using the Convention to promote real change.
There are many Articles in the UN Convention that are particularly relevant for people with epilepsy. One that I’d like to highlight is the Article addressing the right to accessible and affordable healthcare services. The text of this article is below:
Article 25 – Health
States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall:
(a) Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes;
(b) Provide those health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities, including among children and older persons;
(c) Provide these health services as close as possible to people’s own communities, including in rural areas;
(d) Require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, including on the basis of free and informed consent by, inter alia, raising awareness of the human rights, dignity, autonomy and needs of persons with disabilities through training and the promulgation of ethical standards for public and private health care;
(e) Prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance, and life insurance where such insurance is permitted by national law, which shall be provided in a fair and reasonable manner;
(f) Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.
These are essential for not just people with epilepsy, but for everyone in Canada. So, what is next? How do we put these in place in Canada?
Speakers at the conference agreed that the Convention is an reputable and inclusive document on what needs to be done for people with disabilities. The consensus of the speakers was that government and social service organizations need to use it as a basis to create and enforce policy in Canada.
There are approximately 4.4 million persons with disabilities in Canada - about 14.3 percent of the population. This number is expected to grow due to the aging of the population.
Though Canada already a variety of federal, provincial, and community services and legal protections for people with disabilities, speakers highlighted that more needs to be done, particularly in access to health services. As well, it is important for Canada to also support and convince other nations for the need to enforce this Convention. In fact, representatives from the Canadian Association for Community Living were instrumental in helping to write and revise this UN Convention.
I am proud that Canadians were such a force in developing this Convention. I am also very hopeful for the future of our country in being a leader for human rights for people with disabilities.
Transcription of PowerPoint slides from the community forum
The Convention of the Human Rights of People with Disabilities
The United Nations Enable website
Posted by BC Epilepsy Society at December 13, 2010 10:30 AM
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