Nothing About Us Without Us: Representation of People with Intellectual Disabilities and Their Interests in Parliament

Article 7 / 10 , Vol 44 no 4 (Winter)

Nothing About Us Without Us: Representation of People with Intellectual Disabilities and Their Interests in Parliament

Amélie Cossette is a 2020-2021 Parliamentary intern. She holds an honours bachelor’s degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights from the University of Ottawa and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Fundamental Rights at Université Laval. As someone who has a loved one with an intellectual disability, she suggests that this research project be read, in part, as a heartfelt plea for an ableist society to do better.

How well are people with intellectual disabilities and their interests represented in the House of Commons and in the offices of members of Parliament (MPs)? A series of interviews was conducted with parliamentarians who have personal experience working alongside persons with disabilities, members of advocacy groups, and a person with intellectual disabilities who are or have worked in parliamentary offices. Using this information, the author explores the current state of representation of these individuals and their interests, the barriers they and others face in improving their representation, and makes recommendations for how to make the House of Commons more inclusive for persons with intellectual disabilities.

Introduction

Every day, people with disabilities around the world face many barriers to exercising their basic human rights in all kinds of situations. In fact, the United Nations has stated that people with disabilities are the most disadvantaged minority in the world, not to mention the largest.1 Canada is no exception.

In recent years, steps have been taken to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities, but discrimination remains an all too present phenomenon in their daily lives. Do policy makers truly understand their situation? This article explores how people with intellectual disabilities and their interests are represented in the House of Commons and in the offices of Members of Parliament (MPs).

First, I provide an overview of the research process in order to contextualize the importance of this research. Next, I present a snapshot of the current situation in Canada. Then, I analyze the findings from the interviews conducted as part of this project. Finally, I propose recommendations on how to make the House of Commons more inclusive. All of this will be based on an approach centred on respect for fundamental human rights.

This article is an abridged version of a much longer research paper. In order to adhere to space requirements, a literature review has been condensed and the number of answers to my research questions have been reduced.

Approach

It is important to note that the experiences of each individual with an intellectual disability vary greatly depending on the level of disability, their living environment, and the resources available to them.2

Individuals with an intellectual disability face a great deal of prejudice because, in general, the public tends to focus on their limitations rather than their potential. When it comes to employing a person with an intellectual disability, many hiring managers are not any different in their perspective. Misunderstanding the nature of disability is also present within the political sphere. For example, during debate over Bill C-7 it was apparent that many MPs failed to understand the realities of people with disabilities. Bill C-7, the proposed legislation to expand medical assistance in dying, was recently passed in the House of Commons. The Bill passed without the amendments to protect individuals with disabilities that many disability rights organizations had been calling for, resulting in an open letter with 147 signatures in opposition to the Bill.3 The unaddressed concerns of these organizations sparked my interest in studying representation of persons with disabilities in the House of Commons and MPs’ offices.

The socio-economic conditions of people with intellectual disabilities and the difficulties they face in participating in the democratic process are well documented, but there is little information regarding their representation in the House of Commons. This research attempts to add this aspect to the existing literature.

Methodology

In order to provide an accurate overview of how individuals with intellectual disabilities and their interests are represented in the House of Commons and in the offices of MPs, I explored the factors that make it difficult for people with intellectual disabilities to integrate into these work environments. Moreover, I examined whether there are measures in place to make it easier to include people with intellectual disabilities in the Canadian political system.

This research is based on qualitative methods, including a literature review and semi-structured interviews. A total of eight interviews were conducted in May and June, 2021. The individuals selected to take part in this process all have relevant experience with intellectual disabilities; either within civil society, research institutes, the House of Commons and the Senate, or elsewhere. An individual with Down syndrome working in a senator’s office also participated in this project. The interviews generally consisted of seven substantive questions, each tailored to the subject’s own expertise and a final open-ended question to provide space for additional comments on the subject matter.

The findings presented in this article provide a basis for better understanding how people with intellectual disabilities are represented in the House of Commons.

Defining Terms

Disability is an “evolving concept,” as recognized by the United Nations in the preamble to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in 2006 and came into force in 2008. This convention provides the following definition of “persons with disabilities”:

… those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.4

The focus is on the barriers that individuals with disabilities face, rather than their abilities and limitations. This approach to the concept of disability is based on a social, rather than a medical model, as has long been the case.5

In 2019, the Government of Canada adopted the Accessible Canada Act, which defines “disability” as:

any impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment — or a functional limitation — whether permanent, temporary or episodic in nature, or evident or not, that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society.6

Canada has a long history of discrimination against people with disabilities, closely linked to colonization. Before the medical and institutional view was imposed, Indigenous peoples’ traditional view of disability was much more positive. People with disabilities were an integral part of the community and often held special roles, without being socially stigmatized.7

According to the Quebec Intellectual Disability Society (QIDS), an intellectual disability is diagnosed when significant limitations in intellectual functioning and limitations in adaptive behaviour are observed before the age of 18.8

Ableism, derived from the word “ability,” is a key concept in understanding the various realities of individuals with disabilities in Canada, including those with intellectual disabilities.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission states that ableism is:

analogous to racism, sexism or ageism, [and] sees persons with disabilities as being less worthy of respect and consideration, less able to contribute and participate, or of less inherent value than others. Ableism may be conscious or unconscious, and may be embedded in institutions, systems or the broader culture of a society. It can limit the opportunities of persons with disabilities and reduce their inclusion in the life of their communities.9

This view is shared by many authors, such as Ostiguy, Peters and Shlasko: “Like other systems of oppression, ableism operates on many levels, including institutional policy and practice, cultural norms and representations, and individual beliefs and behaviors.”10

A Snapshot of the Situation

According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability conducted by Statistics Canada, 22 per cent of Canadians, or approximately 6.2 million people, have at least one disability.11 The QIDS estimates that between one to three per cent of the population is affected by an intellectual disability, which is believed to be the most common developmental disorder.12

According to Ready, Willing and Able, a national employability program for people with intellectual disabilities or an autism spectrum disorder, there are approximately 500,000 working age adults in Canada in these groups, while only one in four is currently employed.13 Statistics demonstrate that individuals with intellectual disabilities are under-represented in the Canadian labour market. However, there are no statistics reporting how many of these individuals work in the offices of MPs. The House of Commons Human Resources Services are aware that there are some MPs who, at their discretion, hire people with intellectual disabilities, but they do not collect any data.

Findings

This section summarizes the findings of the semi-structured interviews.

When asked if the interests of people with intellectual disabilities are taken into account by members of the House of Commons when making decisions and drafting legislation, many of the interviewees noted that while there is still much progress to be made, the interests of people with intellectual disabilities are being taken into account more than in the past. For example, Senator Chantal Petitclerc stated the following:

More than in the past, but not enough. … I think that the next step is to have this kind of lens that says when we have a bill, even if it is a bill that, at first glance, is not directly related to people with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, we should have the instinct to say: OK, but how will it affect these people and/or what do they need to fully benefit from it and to have full access to their rights? [translation]

Mike Lake, an MP who has a son with an autism spectrum disorder, agreed:

Life experience matters, I think, in this regard; just like inclusion of people’s interests in a lot of different areas matter, when it comes to the decisions we make as a Parliament. … We’re probably not as far advanced as we should be in terms of including the interests of people with intellectual disabilities, but we’re a lot further along than we were 15 years ago when I was first elected.

Anik Larose, Executive Director of QIDS, reiterated that MPs reflect the perceptions of mainstream society, and there are still many negative preconceptions. Moreover, she suggested these people are often forgotten or are invisible because they do not vote very often, so they have no economic or political weight.

In the same vein, Carleen McGuinty, Acting Manager – International, Canadian Human Rights Commission, shared a key point about the situation of people with disabilities: “One of the basic principles in the Accessible Canada Act and in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is “nothing about us without us.” [translation] Therefore, it is important to involve the relevant individuals and advocacy organizations in the drafting of various bills to better understand how decisions will impact this population.

A question asking if MPs from all parties have a good understanding of the reality of people with intellectual disabilities was intended to allow respondents to expand on their earlier answers to better gauge MPs’ overall understanding of intellectual disabilities.

Probably in light of his own experience, Mr. Lake responded that:

It would be different depending on what someone’s life experience would be, and that life experience might be living with someone with an intellectual disability.

Ms. Larose emphasized the concept of ableism in understanding the situation of people with intellectual disabilities. Ableist instincts often stem from a misunderstanding of intellectual disabilities; Samuel Ragot, Senior Policy Analyst and Researcher at the Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society, emphasized the importance of exposure in order to better understand. He reiterated that: “one of the best ways to raise awareness about intellectual disabilities is to have people work closely with those who have them.” [translation] He then stated:

In general, when you look at the profile of the MPs, … the fact remains that there are still a lot of people who come from business backgrounds, who come from backgrounds where there is not a lot of people with a disability… I mean, when you’re in an environment where it’s survival of the fittest, where there’s competition and so on, inevitably, people with disabilities, especially those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, have less of a place in those environments. [translation]

When interviewees were asked if they had any recommendations or strategies to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities and their interests are better understood and defended by MPs, Senator Petitclerc mentioned the possibility of setting up a training program to educate MPs about this reality in order to change their view.

The anonymous respondent emphasized the need to be proactive in increasing MPs’ knowledge of intellectual disabilities, including by raising awareness through local organizations:

Any MP, in any community can find a local organization that supports people with intellectual disabilities and educate themselves on what that means and what that looks like. … There’s no excuse for not becoming more informed, I guess, is what I would say. … You have to be intentional like any other kind of barrier you’re trying to overcome. There has to be intention. It doesn’t just happen organically.

In addition to these suggestions, consulting individuals with intellectual disabilities and advocacy organizations was raised. However, Ms. Larose explained that consultation is not as simple as informing stakeholder groups of legislation and policies, and should not be treated as a box to be checked off. Rather, it should be a meaningful discussion where advocacy groups feel as though they are contributing and being engaged with as opposed to being used to further the appearance of consideration or solely for the purpose of information gathering.

It is interesting to note that Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, provided a similar perspective in her report on her visit to Canada:

In relation to participation in decision-making processes, I was pleased to learn that, in general, the authorities consult with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations. For instance, I have learned about extensive consultations on Bill C-81. However, organizations of persons with disabilities express the need to transition from simply consulting with them towards actively involving them in all decisions that affect them directly or indirectly.14

The goal of informed representation should be to move towards a more collaborative approach that takes into account the needs and interests of the individuals involved according to the principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us.”

Respondents were also asked if they were aware of any programs or policies that promote the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in the offices of MPs, particularly after the Accessible Canada Act was enacted in 2019. Although there are a wide range of programs on the Hill that provide opportunities for Canadians to work in our democracy, directly or indirectly, interviewees who were familiar with hiring procedures suggested there was no structural component yet. The anonymous respondent stated: “It’s more word of mouth, still, I would say, or if somebody has a personal connection or a relationship to [a] kind of intellectual disability.”

The same position was taken by Mr. Lake, who noted that each of the 338 individual Members of Parliament has independence to structure their own hiring procedures.

While the regulations surrounding the Accessible Canada Act are still being drafted, it will be interesting to monitor its implementation since it will also apply to parliamentary entities, including the House of Commons.15

In 1994, the Senate established the Friends of the Senate program, through which approximately five students per year work in a senator’s office or the Senate Administration.16 In an interview conducted with Michael Trinque, a person with Down syndrome who participated in this program more than 10 years ago, and his mother, Elizabeth Hurley, I asked Mr. Trinque about how he felt when he received a subsequent offer to be part of Senator Jim Munson’s team, where he worked for 12 years. Without hesitating, he responded: “I felt very happy, and excited to work with Senator Munson and to meet new friends.”

His mom added:

People with Down syndrome tend to take great pride in the valuable work they do, yet they’re not visible, for the most part. Acceptance and visibility are what I hoped for, for Michael, and he most certainly has these, both at work and in his private life.

Michael’s inclusion in Senator Munson’s office and the success of this experience demonstrates that inclusive hiring, as described by Mr. Ragot, also works in the parliamentary environment. He noted that:

The positions of political attaché, parliamentary assistant and constituency manager necessarily require some form of ableism. It comes with the type of high functioning required for these positions. … Not everyone can be a political attaché or a constituency assistant in life. … But is there a way to find jobs for people with an intellectual disability or an autism spectrum disorder? Yes, for sure. Inclusive hiring is also about workplace accommodation and finding tasks that are suitable for the employees, and employees who can perform those tasks. [translation]

There is no doubt that parliamentary offices can provide workplace accommodations to be more inclusive and accessible. For example, using plain language in documents often assists persons with intellectual disabilities and others alike. The anonymous respondent had also hired individuals with intellectual disabilities, and added that this kind of inclusivity can benefit everyone in the office: “And it really ended up working out really well, and added some depth to our team. It made our business better; it made the workplace environment better.” These positive experiences clearly demonstrate the benefits of workplace accommodations for both the person with an intellectual disability and the employer.

In order to address the under-representation of people with intellectual disabilities in the workplace, including MPs’ offices, it is important to understand the barriers they face. There is already a great deal of research on the prejudices against these individuals, but the purpose of this question was to focus specifically on MPs’ offices. Respondents in this research project unanimously agreed that individuals with intellectual disabilities would be able to contribute to this workplace. In fact, Michael Trinque made a significant contribution to the functioning of Senator Munson’s office, as he explained in our discussion when describing his duties:

There are so many, but here are my favorites, I water the plants, I love making tea, making tea is one of my favourites. I help do everything. What I mean, by everything is: I file, I shred paper, … I do the red book for Senator Munson. He always brings that when he goes to speak at a Senate meeting, and also, I refill binders with many stacks of paper.

Some of the individuals who participated in the interviews also stated that they had experience hiring people with intellectual disabilities and made it clear that they have the ability and potential to work in the parliamentary environment.

However, the prejudices against them have likely limited the number of hires. While there are no specific centralized data to support this, it is clear that only a small minority of MPs have hired people with intellectual disabilities. For example, Mr. Lake has included many individuals with intellectual disabilities on his team and has suggested that a combination of factors may account for the limited number of these individuals on the Hill:

I think maybe there’s a lack of understanding, but when you combine it with maybe a little bit of fear of risk and those types of things, I think that that probably explains it to some degree. They would absolutely be able to contribute if given the right opportunity.

Senator Petitclerc provided a similar opinion, herself having participated in the Friends of the Senate program:

We often have this preconception that people with intellectual disabilities are unproductive, incompetent and unable to do the work. And that’s not true. … It’s true that we have to learn to adapt to their differences. This can be unsettling and, even if we don’t have prejudices, it can push us out of our comfort zone. So, we have to look past that and believe that although that person has some limitations and challenges, such as social or communication difficulties, they are able to do outstanding work in a specific field. … We all win when we take this approach. [translation]

This lack of understanding of the realities and prejudices regarding the abilities of individuals with intellectual disabilities is often rooted in ableism, either consciously or unconsciously, as noted by Mr. Ragot:

I think a lot of people engage in ableism. They don’t necessarily do it consciously or maliciously, but they still do it. Despite the intentions, the result is the same. How do we fight this? Well, we need to implement inclusive hiring programs and ensure that we have policies that address social inclusion and economic participation of people with disabilities. [translation]

There are many reasons why people with intellectual disabilities are under-represented in the offices of MPs, however, it is possible to make these workplaces more accessible and inclusive, thereby benefitting everyone.

Although a question about the main biases about including people with intellectual disabilities in the workplace was not worded to analyze the specific context of MPs’ offices, the main concerns expressed by employers apply to MPs, who are also employers. For example, Ms. Larose raised the following point:

‘People with intellectual disabilities are childlike.’ … In terms of work, I think it’s based a lot on that, or a fear that these people are unreliable or that they’re going to have a breakdown. … We see that, in general, these people are very hardworking, really enjoy their work and pay particular attention to their social network in the workplace. [translation]

The anonymous respondent spoke about the discomfort employers feel about doing things differently:

From an employer’s point of view, there’s this feeling of risk. … There’s also this discomfort with doing things differently. And when I, because of my disability, do it differently, that kind of makes you nervous because you think you know how to do this. And now I’m doing it differently.

This nervousness and discomfort on the part of employers, can sometimes make individuals with disabilities fear the potential impact this could have on their employment opportunities. Ms. McGuinty suggested that, when possible, people with intellectual disabilities will not disclose them to employers because of the prejudice they may experience.

Mr. Lake noted that under-representation of people with disabilities in the workplace is probably most likely due to lack of visibility. He said: “I think that probably the biggest issue is that it’s not front of mind for a lot of people.” Given that awareness of the permanent state of intellectual disability often stems from personal exposure to it, prejudices and assumptions related to the abilities of these individuals in the workplace can be deconstructed by engaging in inclusive hiring practices and providing accommodation for accessible jobs. This is true for both employers and MPs.

Despite some progress in recent years, including the enactment of the Accessible Canada Act, people with intellectual disabilities are still not very visible on Parliament Hill, suggesting a low level of participation in the workforce. The final substantive question in the interviews was about best practices for making workplaces more inclusive, bearing in mind that most of these practices could be applied to MPs’ offices. Respondents emphasized the need to provide pre-employment coaching for people with intellectual disabilities, while stressing the importance of providing support to employers as well. Mr. Lake explained that if MPs are proactive and deliberate on the issue it would greatly benefit everyone, knowing very well the hectic daily life of MPs.

Senator Petitclerc said changing the employer mentality is essential:

I think we have to stop thinking that we’re doing it because it’s a good cause. I think we have to get away from that and say we’re doing it because that person has something to contribute. … I think that what works is to have either a support worker or someone who is part of the individual’s team who can guide us and help us succeed. [translation]

Mentoring and coaching, which came up many times in the interviews, increase the chances of succeeding in the inclusion process. Mentors can help support individuals with an intellectual disability in the workplace and contribute to the creation of routines for them; they can also assists with any questions from the employer. Interviewees also highlighted the importance of making workplaces accessible in order for inclusive hiring to become the norm.

Recommendations

Although some progress has been made regarding the representation of people with intellectual disabilities and their interests, there is still a long way to go to make the parliamentary environment more inclusive. Based on an analysis of the interviews, I am proposing five recommendations that could be implemented in the House of Commons and in the offices of MPs.

Develop a specific program to promote the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in the House of Commons and in the offices of MPs

Parliament Hill has a wide range of programs enabling Canadians to get involved in our democracy. Some are partisan, others are not. Some are paid, others operate on a volunteer basis. Some are run by the House of Commons Administration, others by associations. Their duration, requirements, and eligibility criteria vary greatly. However, there is no specific program to increase the number of individuals with intellectual disabilities in the offices of MPs who sit in the House of Commons, unlike the Senate, which has had such a program since 1994.

A large number of MPs usually participate in the programs available to them. Since an important part of raising awareness about intellectual disabilities and eliminating prejudices is exposure, structures to help bring in these individuals should be put in place, both in parliamentary offices and in ridings.

It would be entirely conceivable to set up a program to make it easier to integrate a few individuals with an intellectual disability into the offices of MPs, while making supports available. Also, some existing program structures, such as the Page Program, could be adapted to create a more accessible format to support the inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities in the House of Commons. There are many possibilities, it just takes the will to implement them.

Establish a centralized data collection system

Access to accurate data is essential in order to provide an overview of any situation. Through the Canadian Survey on Disability, Statistics Canada is able to provide data on individuals with disabilities by adopting a view based on the social model, as defined earlier.17 However, the Human Resources Services of the House of Commons do not collect any data that can be used to conduct comparisons and analyses regarding the representation of individuals with intellectual disabilities in the offices of MPs. As explained above, MPs are employers and have responsibilities as such, which precludes the collection of centralized data. In order to ensure true diversity and the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, some kind of system should be established to help us understand the profile of employees in MPs’ offices, both on Parliament Hill and in the ridings.

Develop training for MPs on the realities of people with disabilities in Canada, with a focus on intellectual disabilities

Currently, the only large-scale training that can prevent discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities in the offices of MPs is the Members of the House of Commons Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy. This policy was adopted in 2014 and updated in 2021. However, in the 30-page guide outlining this training, there is no mention of the terms “handicap”. The passage most closely related to the topic details the definition of “harassment and violence,” which reads as follows:

This concept includes harassment as outlined in the Canadian Human Rights Act based on grounds such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability and a conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

While this policy may be invaluable to maintaining a respectful workplace in the House of Commons, it does not inform MPs about the realities of people with intellectual disabilities in Canada.

Since the laws that are passed by MPs directly and indirectly affect the lives of Canadians with intellectual disabilities, policymakers should be better informed. Of course, advocacy organizations or people with intellectual disabilities are occasionally consulted, but a consistent and systematic approach for all MPs is needed. Training, or at least a briefing, following a general election or by-election would go a long way to increasing education and awareness.

Encourage inclusive hiring practices by sharing positive experiences in the parliamentary environment

An awareness campaign involving parliamentarians who have been proactive in inclusive hiring practices would make MPs’ offices more accessible to people with intellectual disabilities. Sharing the rewarding experiences many senators have had through the Friends of the Senate program and hearing from MPs who have hired people with intellectual disabilities may encourage their parliamentary colleagues to move in the same direction.

Develop an information tool containing best practices to educate MPs about intellectual disabilities and their realities

The individuals who participated in this research project talked about the importance of personal experiences in promoting the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in MPs’ offices. Yet, many people have never had any exposure to or education about this issue. By developing an information tool, such as a pamphlet, MPs could gain a basic and consistent level of understanding about intellectual disabilities. This tool should be developed in partnership with people with intellectual disabilities, based on the principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us,” and with advocacy organizations.

Conclusion

Although the research conducted for this project is based on an imperfect methodology and prepared within a limited period of time, its analysis and conclusions reveal some important findings that must be taken into consideration if we are to have a truly inclusive country. The House of Commons is an important symbol of our democracy and should better reflect Canadian society.

Throughout the interviews lack of a proactive approach, fear of risk, and ableism were identified as gaps, prejudices, and problems. Now it is crucial to focus on solutions. Some recommendations are provided in this report, but advocacy organizations and people with intellectual disabilities could certainly provide additional insight.

A paradigm shift is taking place in Canada. For too long, people with intellectual disabilities have been seen as dependent on assistance and unable to contribute to society. Even though there is still a great deal of progress to be made, the rights of these individuals and their potential to contribute to society more fully as barriers to participation are removed are being increasingly recognized. At the federal level, the Accessible Canada Act and the introduction of Bill C-35 to establish a Canada Disability Benefit are significant steps forward.

However, other government decisions, such as extending medical assistance in dying to people who are not at the end of life do not reflect the position taken by advocacy organizations.

By proactively engaging people with intellectual disabilities to work in parliamentary spaces, MPs and Senators can not only develop a better understanding of their interests, but also set a positive and visible example of inclusion for all Canadians.

Notes

1 United Nations, Disabilities – From Exclusion to Equality: Realizing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Geneva, 2007), online: http://archive.ipu.org/PDF/publications/disabilities-e.pdf (acessed June 21, 2021).

2 Canadian Human Rights Commission, The Rights of Persons with Disabilities to Equality and Non-Discrimination: Monitoring the Implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Canada (Ottawa, 2015), online: https://www.chrc-ccdp.gc.ca/sites/default/files/chrc_un_crpd_report_eng.pdf (accessed June 21, 2021).

3 Vulnerable Persons Standard, “Open Letter: Bill C-7 is not the answer” (February 23, 2021), online: http://www.vps-npv.ca/stopc7 (accessed June 18, 2021).

4 United Nations, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol (2006), online: https://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf (accessed June 18, 2021).

5 Deborah Stienstra, About Canada: Disability Rights (Fernwood Publishing, 2020).

6 Government of Canada, Accessible Canada Act (2019), online: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/a-0.6/ (accessed June 21, 2021).

7 Jeanette Robertson and Grant Larson, Disability and Social Change: A Progressive Canadian Approach (Fernwood Publishing, 2016).

8 Ready, Willing and Able, “Business Case: Hiring People with Intellectual Diabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder” (2015), online: https://readywillingable.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/RWA_BusinessCase-OnlinePDF.pdf (accessed June 15, 2021).

9 Law Commission of Ontario, “Advancing Equality for Persons with Disabilities Through Law, Policy and Practice: A Draft Framework” (March, 2012), online: https://www.lco-cdo.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/disabilities-draft-framework.pdf (accessed June 21, 2021).

10 Robertson and Larson, p. 4.

11 Elisabeth Cloutier, Chantal Grondin and Amélie Lévesque, “Canadian Survey on Disability, 2017: Concepts and Methods Guide” (Statistics Canada: November 28, 2018), online: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/89-654-x/89-654-x2018001-eng.htm (accessed May 11, 2021).

12 Quebec Intellectual Disability Society. “Qu’est-ce que la déficience intellectuelle?” (2018), online: https://www.sqdi.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Qu_est_ce_que_la_deficience_intellectuelle.pdf (accessed May 11, 2021). [Available in French only]

13 Ready, Willing and Able, 2015.

14 Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “End of Mission Statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, on her visit to Canada” (April 12, 2019), online: https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24481&LangID=E (accessed May 25, 2021).

15 Government of Canada, 2019.

16 Senate of Canada, “Friends of the Senate” (August 14, 2017), online: https://sencanada.ca/en/sencaplus/news/friends-of-the-senate/” (accessed May 11, 2021).

17 Statistics Canada, 2018.

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