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Current Projects

Equal Right to Decide Demonstration Initiative

Equal Right to Decide Demonstration Initiative

Timeframe: June 2019 to June 2021

IRIS is providing technical support to organizations in eight communities across Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador to design and implement pilot community-based initiatives for support in decision making. These initiatives will demonstrate how to effectively support people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities, and people living with mental health issues, in exercising their legal capacity in health care, financial and personal life decision making.

Supported through financial and in-kind contributions from the Canadian Association for Community Living, Community Living Ontario, Inclusion Winnipeg and Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living, as well as other community partner organizations.

Supported Decision Making Solutions Lab

Supported Decision Making Solutions Lab

Timeframe: June 2020 to July 2021

IRIS is undertaking research for this initiative on current challenges in implementing supports for decision making in the current legal and policy context in Canada. The research findings will be used by disability organizations in advancing law, policy and practice reforms in their own jurisdictions to better secure an equal right of people with disabilities to exercise legal capacity without discrimination. The research is focusing on how current legal regimes in Canada can better recognize supports for decision making, alternatives to guardianship and the duty to accommodate people in health care and other decision making processes.

Supported by Canadian Association for Community Living and the Social Development Partnerships Program.

Global Study on the Equal Right to Legal Capacity

Global Study on the Equal Right to Legal Capacity

Timeframe: January 2017 to September 2020

This initiative is developing a lens for critically examining laws and policies regulating exercise of legal capacity – or the power to make one’s own decisions – as the equality rights of people with intellectual, cogntivie and psychosocial disabilities. Informed by Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, this study pilots the lens in the thirteen countries, aimed at identifying both innovative approaches and legal barriers to the exercise of legal capacity without discrimination based on disability.

Supported by Open Society Foundations.

Book on Legal Capacity for Mexico’s Supreme Court

Book on Legal Capacity for Mexico’s Supreme Court

Timeframe: June 2020 to September 2021

Commissioned by Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice, Michael Bach, Managing Director at IRIS, is developing and co-editing an international collection of essays by legal experts on the tensions in law, policy and practice in achieving fuller implementation of the equal right to legal capacity recognized under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Supported Decision Making in Newfoundland and Labrador: The Next Step

Supported Decision Making in Newfoundland and Labrador: The Next Step

Timeframe: January 2017 to October 2020

This research and consultation initiative is identifying key issues related to laws and policies in Newfoundland and Labrador affecting barriers and opportunities for people with disabilities to exercise legal capacity – or power, choice and control over decision making in their lives – on an equal basis with others. The project is undertaking extensive legal research and making a variety of recommendations which are presented in a ‘roadmap’ for law, policy and practice reform in the province.

With financial support through the Disability Policy Office of the provincial Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development.

Towards a Global Campaign on Advancing Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Towards a Global Campaign on Advancing Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Timeframe: January 2018 to March 2021

This initiative builds on earlier phases which provided technical support to civil society organizations in Zambia, Bulgaria and Colombia to achieve national scale impact in reforming laws, policies and practices regulating the exercise of legal capacity, or the power to exercise choice and control over one’s personal decisions. The initiative includes developing an online platform, networks and resources to grow civil society capacity to address long-standing barriers to the equal right of persons with disabilities to exercise choice, power and control in their own lives. Supported by Open Society Foundations.

Supported by Open Society Foundations.

Accessibility in Action

Accessibility in Action

Timeframe: July 2020 to June 2022

Accessibility in Action is a two-year initiative managed by IRIS with a diverse project leadership team and implementation partners and advisors – including disability organizations with local-to-national reach, individuals representing marginalized communities (i.e. Indigenous, racialized, migrant, 2SLGBTQ+) as well as technical and legal experts.

Accessibility in Action sets out to create an online platform that will bring the disability community together with the thousands of organizations or entities who are regulated under the Accessible Canada Act of 2019. The initiative aims to help deliver on the legislation’s immense potential to mobilize effective engagement of people with disabilities and federally-regulated entities in creating an accessible and inclusive Canada that fully respects and protects the human rights of people with disabilities.

Supported by Employment and Social Development Canada.

Analyzing Legal Capacity Regimes in Canada

Analyzing Legal Capacity Regimes in Canada

Timeframe: July 2019 to July 2021

This two-year initiative is being led by IRIS in collaboration with civil society, professional, academic and funding partners. The initiative has three main goals: To examine legal barriers to equality found in the regimes regulating legal capacity at both the federal and provincial/territorial levels in Canada; To point to promising practices for non-discrimination in legal capacity based on disability; and to develop tools for ongoing monitoring and tracking progress in these regimes.

Supported by Social Development Partnerships Program, Employment and Social Development Canada.

Pathways to Homeownership Demonstration Initiative

Pathways to Homeownership Demonstration Initiative

Timeframe: January 2019 to December 2021

This Demonstration Initiative seeks to increase the capacity of the housing sector to improve housing stability, affordability, and choice for people with developmental disabilities by replicating innovative models of homeownership. It will help make homeownership attainable for more Canadians with developmental disabilities by generating and spreading knowledge about how these models work.

With financial support from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Help Wanted – Sheltered Workshops and the Steps to Ending Employment Segregation in Canada – People First of Canada

Help Wanted – Sheltered Workshops and the Steps to Ending Employment Segregation in Canada – People First of Canada

Timeframe: January 2019 to September 2020

IRIS is a partner on this initiative led by People First of Canada, which examines the issue of sheltered work in Canada. The project aims to show solutions that can give real work opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities.  Project activities include: Consultations with people with intellectual disabilities across the country; Research about the nature, extent and promising practices to transition out of sheltered work across Canada; and the development and piloting of a tool to educate people on sheltered work to the PFC membership network in the form of a ‘train the trainer’ model.

Mental Health and Justice

Mental Health and Justice

Timeframe: January 2017 to March 2022

IRIS is a collaborator on this multi-partner initiative which aims to address the tension at the heart of mental health, ethics and law: the desire to protect the decision-making of the vulnerable and the desire to respect individual choice. With six research streams, this initiative is examining the relationship between support in decision-making and decision-making ability in a variety of decision-making contexts, and developing recommendations for law and policy reform.

Learn more at mhj.org.uk

Supported by the Wellcome Trust, UK.

Past Projects

Working Together: Combating Structural Violence against Indigenous, Racialized, Migrant Women and Women Labeled with Intellectual and Psychiatric Disabilities

Working Together: Combating Structural Violence against Indigenous, Racialized, Migrant Women and Women Labeled with Intellectual and Psychiatric Disabilities

Timeframe: January 2015 to December 2018

Objective: To ensure that key service providers have increased knowledge on the nature of abuse, barriers, challenges and service gaps for women in target communities and that the target women’s groups have been connected, have established a working relationship – locally and nationally, and have gained and strengthened skills to identify and respond to abuse, as well as plan for their safety.

No Woman’s Land

No Woman’s Land

Timeframe: March 2015 to March 2018

Objective: To explore the real stories of refugee women living in Ontario, their experiences of sexual violence in refugee camps prior to migration, and its traumatic effects resulting in mental health and other disabilities, through a multi-disciplinary performance piece and call to action entitled No Woman’s Land, which used dance, video and verbatim theatre.

Our Right to be Safe!

Our Right to be Safe!

Timeframe: January 2012 to December 2015

Objective: To mobilize local communities and sectors involved in violence prevention and response to implement a coordinated, local-level community response to violence and abuse by identifying and removing access barriers so as to increase all women’s participation and safety in their communities.

Our Health Matters!

Our Health Matters!

Timeframe: January 2012 to December 2014

Objective: To develop resources, education and training sessions aimed at persons with disabilities as well as key health care professionals to pursue secondary prevention of cancer involving early detection and increasing access to cancer screening.

Advancing the Right to Legal Capacity for People with Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities in Zambia

Advancing the Right to Legal Capacity for People with Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities in Zambia

Timeframe: February 2016 to February 2017

Objective: To strengthen capacity of people with mental health and intellectual disabilities, their families and the communities they live in, by developing effective community based mental health and other supports, to enable people to exercise legal capacity, resulting in social and economic inclusion.

Toronto – A Place to Call Our Own: Empowering Women to Take Action for Affordable Housing

Toronto – A Place to Call Our Own: Empowering Women to Take Action for Affordable Housing

Timeframe: November 2016 to December 2019

Objective: To bring together women’s advocacy groups and front-line service providers to develop a strategy for addressing the lack of access to, and the number of affordable housing arrangements for women in Toronto, ON. Working with key decision-makers from the private sector to act upon the recommendations consolidated through research by collectively designing a practical, realistic and feasible strategy to increase access to housing for women coming from diverse communities in Toronto.

Read the Toronto – A Place to Call Our Own research report

Read Learning Network Brief 35 “Women with Disabilities & Housing” written by Doris Rajan of IRIS

People with Mental Health and Cognitive Disabilities & Access to the Justice System – A Review of the Literature

People with Mental Health and Cognitive Disabilities & Access to the Justice System – A Review of the Literature

Timeframe: January 2015 to March 2015

Objective: To develop a rich understanding the attitudinal, communication, procedural and policy barriers that hinder people with mental health and cognitive based disabilities’ access to justice, focusing on initial contact in times of conflict or crisis.  In addition, to compile related promising practices across Canada.

Download literature review here.