Two years after signing, Canada still has not ratified Convention - pressure mounting for fast-track ratification
Winnipeg (30 March 2009) – Today marks the second anniversary of Canada's participation in the signing ceremony for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which took place at the United Nations. By signing, the federal government signalled its intent to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by following typical Canadian procedures, with an emphasis on federal, provincial, territorial discussions that take place behind closed doors.
However today, two years after the fact, with 50 other countries having ratified the CRPD, Canada is beginning to feel pressure to fast-track ratification. With so many countries having stepped forward to ratify the CRPD, Canada needs to evaluate the pace at which things are proceeding.
To mark today's historic anniversary, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a human rights organization of people with disabilities working for an accessible and inclusive Canada, joins many countries from around the world by calling once again for an expeditious ratification of the CRPD without reservation.
Indeed, last month at the UN, in Geneva, Canada received encouragement to move this process along more quickly from a number of countries, as part of the new "Universal Periodic Review" (UPR) of Human Rights, undertaken by the Human Rights Council.
At the UPR, Canada faced an international peer-review of our Human Rights record and it is significant that one of the key recommendations was swift ratification of the CRPD.
In its own submission, Canada reported that the federal, provincial and territorial governments are working toward ratification. Reports submitted to the UPR by Canadian NGOs, recommended that Canada fast-track the CRPD's ratification. During the review, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland asked Canada to elaborate upon the analysis being undertaken with regard to ratification of the CRPD and to indicate when the analysis would be complete.
Indeed last June, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion in support of ratification of the CRPD. This motion demonstrates that all Canada's parliamentarians are prepared to have this country abide by the standards set in the CRPD. "With this high level of support for ratification, we are left to wonder why Canada has not announced a projected date when ratification will occur," states Steven Estey, Chairperson of CCD's International Committee and a former adviser to the Canadian delegation which helped draft the CRPD.
Since 30 March 2007, Canadian human rights organizations, trade unions, law societies, academics and groups of people with disabilities have been calling upon the Canadian government to quickly ratify the CRPD.
Last year, the National Action Plan on Disability, endorsed by over 100 organizations nation-wide, called upon the Federal Government to "Initiate a transparent process of work with the provinces/territories and the disability community to ensure ratification of the CRPD within the next two years."
"We continue to stand behind the actions we called for in the National Action Plan," states Marie White, CCD Chairperson. "The UN followed a very open and inclusive process, involving people with disabilities, when it drafted the CRPD in record time and we expect Canada to follow suit with ratification. We once again call on Canada to demonstrate the leadership it demonstrated through the Convention development process."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE