The Government of Canada tables the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
News Release From Employment and Social Development Canada
November 30, 2017
The Government of Canada is taking further action to uphold and safeguard the rights of people with disabilities and further enable their inclusion and full participation in Canadian society.
Today, the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, on behalf of the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, is proud to announce that the Government of Canada tabled in the House of Commons the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Optional Protocol). The Optional Protocol would allow individuals in Canada to make a complaint to the United Nations if they believe their rights under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) have been violated.
The Convention protects and promotes the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities without discrimination and on an equal basis with others. In 2010, Canada became a Party to the Convention and committed to promoting, protecting and ensuring the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities.
Accession to the Optional Protocol would provide added protection by allowing the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to consider complaints against Canada. The Committee is a specialised committee with expertise in disability issues.
In December 2016, the Government of Canada announced that it had begun the process toward possible accession to the Optional Protocol. Consultations were launched with provincial and territorial governments, who play an important role in Canada’s accession, as well as Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, and civil society. The Government of Canada thanks all those that contributed to this process for their invaluable input.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on December 3. This is an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the progress we’ve made in making Canada an accessible and inclusive country and the work we still need to do.
“This step towards accession reinforces Canada’s strong commitment to removing barriers and building a more accessible Canada where all Canadians have an equal opportunity to succeed, and live a great Canadian life. We are making real progress for Canadians with disabilities and look forward to introducing new federal accessibility legislation next spring.”
– The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
“Canada is committed to ensuring that all people share the same opportunities and enjoy the same human rights. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is absolutely essential to ensuring that this commitment becomes a reality for Canadians with disabilities. We will always push to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities, both at home and abroad.”
– The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs
“Protecting the rights of all Canadians is a priority for our Government. This Optional Protocol would build on protections that are already in place in Canada by giving persons with disabilities another way to make a complaint if they believe their rights have been violated. It would also contribute to and complement Canada’s efforts towards the full and effective implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
– The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, , P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2010. Parties to the Convention are required to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities.
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention by States Parties. States Parties to the Convention are expected to submit reports to the Committee every four years, with an initial report due two years following ratification. Canada submitted its initial report in February 2014 and appeared before the Committee in April 2017.
The Optional Protocol establishes two procedures aimed at strengthening the implementation and monitoring of the Convention. The first is a complaint procedure that allows individuals and groups to bring petitions to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated. The second is an inquiry procedure that allows the Committee to inquire into allegations of grave or systematic violations of the Convention by a State Party. The Optional Protocol was adopted by the UN in 2006 and entered into force in 2008. As of November 2017, there are 92 States Parties to the Optional Protocol. On November 30, the Government of Canada tabled the Optional Protocol in the House of Commons. Tabling in Parliament is an important and necessary next step in the federal process toward accession of a treaty, such as the Optional Protocol, and allows Parliament to review and discuss it before a decision is taken on accession. The Government of Canada continues to work with the provinces and territories, which must undertake their own internal processes prior to providing their feedback on accession.
The annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on December 3. This year’s theme is Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all. This theme focuses on the enabling conditions for transformative change.
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