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It is with a profound sense of sadness and loss that the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) recognizes today the passing of the Honourable Jim Flaherty. For the past 20 plus years of his life Jim Flaherty brought a keen sense of what it means to live with a disability. He raised a son with a significant disability and in his political life lent a willing ear to Canadians with disabilities and their families and their organizations across Canada, making major law and policy reforms to address our concerns. In an article he wrote for CACL’s national family newsletter ‘Coming Together to Create Change’ and titled “What heaven looks like” he wrote both of his government’s accomplishments and the difference his son, John, made in his family’s life:
Our government created the Registered Disability Savings Plan to help families support their children with disabilities in the future. We have made major access progress through federal funding. Canada was also one of the first countries to sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007, which we then ratified on March 11, 2010. And there is more… John enriches our lives and those of others – and heaven looks pretty good too!
Jim Flaherty’s full article for CACL can be found at: http://www.cacl.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/docs/ComingTogetherFall2010.pdf and is attached to the press release.
CACL President, Laurie Larson said, “Minister Flaherty had an extremely busy schedule but when asked to submit his family's story to our newsletter he not only agreed to do so but took the time to write it out by hand. It was wonderful to read his words, written not as the Minister of Finance, but as a proud father. It meant a lot to me to know that our Minister of Finance was aware of the issues that mattered to people with disabilities and their families. He did so much for individuals with disabilities in this country and that will be an enduring legacy.
Michael Bach, CACL Executive Vice-President said, “In the midst of managing Canada’s finances in a major global recession and various other pressures a finance minister faces, Jim Flaherty and his staff had an open door policy for the disability community. He was open to dialogue about how to tackle the big issues of poverty, unemployment and under-employment of people with disabilities, future economic security of individuals, and ensuring rights and full citizenship. He leaves an immense legacy for the disability community.”
One of Minister Flaherty’s last acts in his finance portfolio was the 2014 Budget in which he announced a $15 million investment in the national employment initiative for people with developmental disabilities and autism, co-sponsored by the Canadian Association for Community Living and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA). With that financial commitment, this employer-led, community-supported initiative will engage communities and employers across Canada, and its success is already being demonstrated.
To Jim Flaherty’s wife, Christine Elliot and his sons and whole family, CACL sends our profound sympathies, and we honour a man who truly made a difference.
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Contact: Michael Bach, CACL Executive Vice President, 416-209-7942.