Ratification of UN Convention on disability rights: a historic moment for all

TORONTO, March 11 /CNW/ - Today marked a historic moment in Canadian history as Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations headquarters in New York. It is Canada's declaration to Canadians and the international community that at last, disability is to be recognized as a matter of fundamental human rights - at home and internationally.

Community Living Ontario, an organization that represents more than 12,000 people through a federation of 117 local community living associations, praises the Government of Canada for the leadership it has demonstrated in signing this treaty. This very act confirms Canada's role as a leader on disability issues. It means that all Canadians can and must stand up and play a role in making communities welcoming and inclusive to all people. Inclusion is no longer an issue left only to organizations.

"This international treaty will continue to drive change within this province and in all of our communities for decades to come," said Keith Powell, executive director of Community Living Ontario. "It will continue to shift our understanding of disability from a 'deficit' or problem located within the person, to an understanding of the combination of environmental and attitudinal barriers that a person faces. Understanding and addressing these barriers has long been the work of community living organizations who, for more than sixty years, have been creating and providing disability supports so that people who have an intellectual disability can participate more effectively in society."

One year ago, almost to the day, the Government of Ontario took a giant step in the direction of inclusion when they closed the doors to the remaining three large institutions. More than 1,000 former residents are now successfully living and participating in Ontario communities.

The ratification of the UN Convention is another significant achievement in the journey of people who have an intellectual disability towards enjoying their full human rights and inclusion in society. "This significant achievement came about in large part due to the dogged determination of the Canadian Association for Community Living," said Karen Gledhill, president of Community Living Ontario. "Community Living Ontario congratulates the tireless efforts of the volunteers and staff of the Canadian Association for Community Living," praised Gledhill.

Michael Bach, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Association for Community Living, reflected on the development of the Convention: "The Convention was influenced by a Canadian perspective and is a document that all Canadians should be proud of. Canadian concepts about inclusive education, living in the community and supported decision-making infuse the Convention. The Convention also recognizes the valuable role that families play in making rights a reality for their family members with disabilities. The Convention is also unique for the way it was developed. It is the first time in UN history that people affected by a treaty were actively engaged in the development of its text. It is a Convention that is informed by the lived experience of people with disabilities and their families."

Community Living Ontario is a province-wide federation that promotes and facilitates the full participation and inclusion of people who have an intellectual disability. More than 12,000 people are members of Community Living Ontario through membership in 117 affiliated local associations. Community Living provides direct support and services to people who have an intellectual disability, helps communities build the capacity to support people, and advocates for social change toward the full inclusion of all people in community.

SOURCE Community Living Ontario

For further information: For further information: Media Contact: Rozalyn Werner-Arcé, Director, Marketing and Communications, Cell: (416) 407-4014

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