Our 2020 International Day of People With Disabilities Agenda: No More Poverty!

By Donna Thomson

The disability community in Canada has a long history of being fractured. Disability groups have traditionally competed for scarce resources – that’s just the way things were. Jockeying for limited funding resources can pit the interests of various disability communities against each other, a situation in which there are no real winners. But something’s changing and today, this December 3rd, International Day of People with Disabilities, I have hope for a brighter collective future. Disabled people and the groups that represent their interests have come together in support of a new Canada Disability Benefit, a kind of basic income scheme that would lift disabled Canadians out of poverty in one fell swoop.

The discussion about how to accommodate a good life for our loved ones with care needs doesn’t have to be fractious.  Communities that support the wellbeing of people with disabilities as well as our ageing citizenry must locate common agenda items and work together collaboratively to achieve broad, positive change.  The Stanford Social Innovation Review provoked lively discussion in 2011 with an article titled ‘Collective Impact’.  In it, the authors propose that non-profits join forces on issues where they agree broad change must occur.  To achieve Collective Impact, organizations must engage in this process:

  1. Collaborating organizations must create a common agenda. (In this case, The Canada Disability Benefit)
  2. These organizations must also share a measurement system that tracks indicators of success.
  3. Stakeholders must work together in mutually reinforcing activities. (See THIS!)
  4. They must also engage in continuous communication. (Like THIS)
  5. There must be a backbone support organization that coordinates, supports, and facilitates the collective process. (For the Canada Disability Benefit, that’s the Plan Institute.)

We must find a way forward in which all are welcome and dependency is not seen as either a weakness or a lack of imagination in problem-solving challenges.  We can do this by searching for consensus and drowning out divisive voices where the agenda does not reflect the greater and common good.  We can do this by insisting that our organizations representing the interests of disabled Canadians engage in Collective Impact.

Let’s DO IT!

This article was originally posted on THE CAREGIVERS’ LIVING ROOM – A Blog by Donna Thomson.