White Cane Week 2022 Logo

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White Cane Week’s Summit will be an in-depth discussion by leading experts in eye health, ophthalmology and optometry on just what is preventable vision loss and blindness. The discussion will also look at the main causes of vision loss and blindness and the burden it places on Canada’s health system. The panel will discuss where we need to go in considering the state of vision health in Canada, focusing on the following issues: the inescapable reality of unmet need; eliminating the COVID-19 backlog; and a call for comprehensive eye examinations for those most vulnerable, our children and an ever increasing, aging population.

TOPIC: Preventable Vision Loss and Blindness

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr. Diane Van Staden (1)

SPEAKERS: Dr. Marko Popovic (2), Doug Earle (3), Dr. Keith Gordon (4)

DATE: Tuesday, February 22, 2022

TIME: 4:00-5:30 p.m. EST

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 (1) Dr. Diane Van Staden is an Optometrist, a public health professional and the optometry academic leader at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. She enjoys an extensive background in public health and development within the field of global eye health and her research interests include a comparison of eye health in various global regions. It is in this context that she was the author of a study published in March 2020 in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, entitled: “The Universal Eye Health Imperative for Canada: An Inescapable Reality of Unmet Need”.

 (2) Dr. Marko M. Popovic MD MPH (C), Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

 (3) Doug Earle President and CEO, Fighting Blindness Canada.

 (4) Dr. Keith Gordon Senior Research Officer, Canadian Council of the Blind.

Statement on Open Letter from Senators to Fast Track a Canad Disability Benefit

Article by Disability Without Poverty

Disabled Canadians applaud Senate support for the Canada Disability Benefit

(Toronto) – 43 members of the Senate of Canada voiced their support for a Canada Disability Benefit through an open letter on January 17, 2022. This is on the heels of an e-petition promoted by Disability Without Poverty that received 17,874 signatures from across the country.

“We hope that these demonstrations of resounding confidence will ensure that fast action is taken to make the Canada Disability Benefit a reality. The momentum to do the right thing is growing. A recent Angus Reid survey proved that Canadians want fast action. Our open letter signed by 200 prominent Canadians including former Lieutenant governor david Onley and artist Christa Coutu also echoed the call to fast track the benefit and ensure that it is jointly designed with people with disabilities. And now, 43 senators are joining our voices,” states Rabia Khedr, National Director of Disability Without Poverty.

“This guaranteed livable income will be an important step in providing people with disabilities the independence, autonomy and dignity they deserve. The COVID-19 pandemic has further deepened the financial difficulty of people with disabilities who were already struggling to afford their essential needs. Immediate action is necessary to prevent even more lives being needlessly lost to poverty,” states Michelle Hewitt, Disability Without Poverty Co-Chair.


Disability without Poverty (DWP) is a grassroots disability-led movement formed to ensure disabled people are involved in the design of a Canadian Disability Benefit. DWP is staffed and directed by disabled people. Members of the Disability without Poverty movement include disabled people, their families, friends, service providers, and allies.


Speakers on stage at the Expo Forum 2020.

Reforming Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program

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This year’s Forum will be an in-depth presentation on a topic critical to those living with vision loss in Ontario and across Canada. Over the past year, the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), in partnership with the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, BALANCE for Blind Adults, the CNIB, Fighting Blindness Canada, and others, conducted a user experience survey of the Assistive Devices Program administered by the Ontario Ministry of Health. The Forum will focus on the results of this important study, including its findings, conclusions, and recommendations. The presentation will be led by the study’s research leads, including Principal Investigator Dr. Keith Gordon, the CCB’s Senior Research Officer, as well as Investigators Dr. Chad Andrews and Michael Baillargeon.

TOPIC: Reforming Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program

DATE: Wednesday, February 9, 2022

TIME: 4–5:30 p.m. EST

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Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Eye Health in Canada Summit

Link to Summit Video

This video is a recording of the  Canadian Council of the Blind’s (CCB) Summit on The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Eye Health in Canada held October 26, 2021. This project was spearheaded by the CCB in partnership with Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC) and key partners the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO)  and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS).

In this session a panel of experts share their perspectives on the addendum to the Cost of Vision Loss & Blindness in Canada report that specifically looks at the impact COVID has had on the blindness and vision loss community.

The Summit was proudly supported by our Presenting Sponsor Bausch + Lomb

About the Report
In 2020 the Canadian Council of the Blind, partnering with Fighting Blindness Canada, and key stakeholders, the Canadian Association of Optometrists and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, conducted a supplementary study to reveal the astounding impact COVID-19 has had on eye health in Canada.
The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) engaged Deloitte Access Economics in December 2020 to provide a contemporary estimate of the annual social and economic cost of vision loss (VL) and blindness in Canada. In support of this report, the CCB partnered with Fighting Blindness Canada and key partners the Canadian Association of Optometrists and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society.  The full report on the Cost of Vision Loss and Blindness in Canada using 2019 data was completed in May 2021. During the completion of that earlier document, it became apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic was having a major impact on the findings of the study.  It was therefore decided to conduct a supplementary study on the impact of the pandemic in 2020 on the prevalence and cost of VL. The findings of that study are presented as an addendum to the original report.  The estimated costs in the report reflect the impact of COVID-19 from March to December of 2020, highlighting aggregated, pan-Canadian effects

About the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)
The Canadian Council of the BlindIs the Voice of the Blind™ in Canada, a membership-based charity that brings together Canadians who are living with vision loss, the blind, deaf-blind and the partially sighted.  Advocating for its members, the CCB works to promote a sense of purpose and self-esteem along with an enhanced quality of life.  Based on belief in ABILITY, not disability Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) is a vibrant network of active members across Canada.  Each chapter is unique to its geographic area and engages in a variety of social and recreational activities based on the interests of their local members. Visit or call 1-877-304-0968 for more information.

About Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC)
Visit or call 1-800-461-3331 to learn more.

About the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS)
Visit to learn more.

About the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO)
Visit for more information.
Visit for more information.


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