CLBC 2015 WOW Award

Community Living BC’s Widening Our World (WOW) Award celebrates people who are building welcoming communities for people with diverse abilities. No matter who they are or where they live in BC, we want you to tell us about your inclusion champion. Nominate someone today at:

Nominations will be accepted until November 30, 2016.


The Eve Decision – 30 years later

On October 23, 1986 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that Eve, a 24-year-old woman with an intellectual disability, could not be sterilized without her consent.  This landmark case, known as the Eve Decision, has had a profound impact on the global movement to fully recognize the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities. 

The Supreme Court of Canada’s 1986 Eve Decision was a critical turning point in the struggle for recognition of rights of persons with intellectual disabilities.  Not only did it end the longstanding practice of non-therapeutic sterilization of people with intellectual and other mental disabilities, but in doing so it affirmed that regardless of cognitive ability, all persons have fundamental human rights which cannot be over-ridden even when a person is under guardianship.  The court noted:

Sterilization should never be authorized for non-therapeutic purposes under the parens patriae jurisdiction. In the absence of the affected person’s consent, it can never be safely determined that it is for the benefit of that person. The grave intrusion on a person’s rights and the ensuing physical damage outweigh the highly questionable advantages that can result from it.

The decision put an end to the most iconic and egregious element of the eugenics era programme ending the longstanding practice of routinely sterilizing both men and women with intellectual disabilities, often with the cloak of legal legitimacy under Acts such as the Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act enacted in 1928 and not repealed until 1972.  The Court was cognizant of this legacy and noted:

There are other reasons for approaching an application for sterilization of a mentally incompetent person with the utmost caution. To begin with, the decision involves values in an area where our social history clouds our vision and encourages many to perceive the mentally handicapped as somewhat less than human. This attitude has been aided and abetted by now discredited eugenic theories.

Another critical aspect of the Eve Decision was its recognition that all people, regardless of cognitive capacity, had fundamental human rights which could not be over-ridden even if someone was under guardianship or other forms of substitute decision making.  This went against one of the oldest tenets in western law which fundamentally viewed those with intellectual and other cognitive disabilities as less than persons before the law.  It would be two more decades before Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities definitively expressed the principles that people with disabilities  are ‘persons’ before the law and  free to make their own decisions regardless of their cognitive ability.  There remains much to be done to bring this right into practice but the Eve Decision was a key milestone on the road to achieving full personhood for people with disabilities.

Eve also marked the emergence of the authentic voice of people with intellectual disabilities to represent themselves and their interests. The members of the Consumer Advisory Committee of the then Canadian Association for the Mentally Retarded (now the Canadian Association for Community Living) being the first to directly address their views to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Barb Goode, one of the leading self advocates involved in the case, would go on to address the United Nations and be one of many strong and committed self-advocates who affirm and defend the doctrine “Nothing about us without us“ and continue to lead the way in the struggle for the full and unequivocal recognition of the rights of all persons, including those with intellectual disabilities, to full and equal citizenship and inclusion.

Visit the Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship website for more information about this case and its impact.

Disability Alliance BC – Community Update

On Oct. 1, 2016, the Province will make Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits and EI benefits for parents caring for critically ill children fully exempt for people on income and disability assistance.

These changes will benefit about 200 parents on income and disability assistance each year and provide additional financial support while they are caring for a new-born, newly adopted, or critically ill child.


B.C. is only the second province after Quebec to exempt EI maternity and parental benefits from monthly provincial assistance. This builds on a number of significant changes the Province has made over the last 18 months to further support families with children on assistance, including:

  • Becoming the first province in Canada to fully exempt child support payments for families on income and disability assistance;
  • Doubling the monthly income exemption for families with children on income assistance from $200 to $400 a month and increasing it from $300 to $500 for families who have a child with a disability;
  • Providing continued access to health supplements for up to one year to families with children who leave income or disability assistance for employment;
  • Exempting Canada Pension Plan orphan’s benefits and WorkSafeBC child benefits from income, disability or hardship assistance; and
  • Establishing the Single Parent Employment Initiative which helps single parents on income and disability assistance get the supports they need to overcome barriers to employment and build a better future for their families. Since its launch in September 2015, more than 3,400 single parents are involved in the program.

The Province is committed to providing the supports needed to help improve the well-being and financial outcomes for vulnerable B.C. parents and children.

Disability Alliance BC – Community Update

Over the past year, there have been several changes to the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefit, including a rate increase and changes to the BC Bus Pass Program. To reflect these and other changes, we have fully updated our Help Sheet series.

For more information, please see the attached Community Update.