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International Day of Persons with Disabilities – It’s Time for a new Social Contract




For Immediate Release
December 3, 2012

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is held every December 3rd.  Today, the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) celebrates the advances that many people with intellectual disabilities, their families and communities are making in building an inclusive and accessible Canada.  Along with People First of Canada, CACL recently launched ‘Ready, Willing and Able’ documenting successful examples from across Canada of people with intellectual disabilities in the labour force.  Together, with government and community partners we are demonstrating what inclusion looks like – in family and community life, in early learning and child care, on the playground, in school and the workplace.  And, we have almost finished the job of closing large residential institutions in Canada.

However, despite individual examples of success, and despite Canada having ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, pervasive discrimination and exclusion on the basis of intellectual and other disabilities still has deep roots in Canadian society.  We have witnessed just how deep they are in recent weeks as we see families taking their adult children with intellectual disabilities to respite homes and shelters and abandoning them to service systems because they have no other choice.  We are pleased to see that the Ombudsman in Ontario will be investigating this travesty of public trust in the months to come.

The crisis that families face in Ontario is being felt in communities across Canada.  For too long people with intellectual disabilities have been abandoned to institutions and now community agencies because governments have not adequately stepped up to ensure individuals and families are supported, schools are inclusive, labour markets are accessible, and income assistance means more than getting in line at the local food bank.

Laurie Larson, President of CACL said “Governments have failed to adequately respond to this crisis and have placed the responsibility of caring for adults with intellectual disabilities squarely on the shoulders of the families to an extent far beyond what can reasonably be expected.  We need to strike a new social contract with families; lives hang in the balance. Effectively, the love that families feel for their sons and daughters is being exploited by all levels of government and society.”  Michael Bach, CACL Executive Vice-President said, “Our hope on this December 3rd is that the inspiration of the UN Convention, and the new foundations it establishes for international law, become the ground on which a new social contract with people with disabilities and their families can take root in Canada, to overcome the legacy of exclusion and discrimination still affecting so many lives.”

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The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) is a national association of over 40,000 members, 400 local, family led Associations for Community Living and 13 provincial/territorial Associations.  We are families, people with intellectual disabilities and our supporters working together to ensure all people:


  • Have the same rights and access to choice, supports and services as all other people.
  • Have the same opportunities as others to live in freedom and dignity, and have the needed support to do so.
  • Are able to voice and realize their aspirations and rights.

Founded in 1958, CACL provides leadership on the issue of inclusion and human rights of people with intellectual disabilities through public awareness, family leadership, community partnerships, research and information, and policy dialogue.

For more information, please contact Michael Bach, CACL Executive Vice-President – 416 209 7942.


Celebrating Samantha Martin, June 4th 1993 - Dec 3rd 2006

SAMANTHA'S LAW: Loving families facing issues of developmental or medical diversity must be regarded distinctly from the Child Welfare Intervention Model. Families must not be coerced into relinquishing custody - whether temporary or permanent - in effort to secure Government funding for required medical and therapeutic services.

Samantha's Law is a Canadian child protection law. The life and circumstances surrounding Samantha Lauren Martin, a child with a rare chromosome disorder, Tetrasomy 18p & Autism led her mother, Velvet Martin, to challenge archaic laws inhibiting the rights of persons with disability and their families. On December 3 2009 (the same date marks the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities being tabled in the House of Commons of Canada), Velvet Martin's persistence resulted in the establishment of "Samantha's Law." The Amendment to the Alberta Family Support for Children with Disabilities Act, became effective retroactive to December 2006. Section 2-3, Manual Amendments: Policy and Procedures in Family Centred Supports and Services: "The Family Support for Children with Disabilities Program to have separate legislation from that of child protection services." [1]

City of Edmonton Mayors Awards: Velvet Martin Samantha's Law:

Velvet Martin is the Spokesperson for Protecting Canadian Children:

Report to the Attorney General - Public inquiry into the death of Samantha Martin

International Day of persons with disability, December 3rd: Celebrating the life of Samantha Lauren Martin born June 4th 1993 and passed December 3rd 2006.