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ARCH Disability Law Centre Statement on Ontario Government’s recent release of new information about Vaccine Distribution

February 24, 2021

ARCH Disability Law Centre identifies urgent need for further clarification regarding the Ontario Government’s vaccination distribution plan as details continue to be released.

The Ontario Government’s plan for vaccine distribution includes prioritized groups for phase I and phase II of the vaccine rollout. Among the groups and residential contexts that are identified, there are two groupings in particular that continue to remain especially unclear and this lack of clarity will have a potentially significant impact on persons with disabilities. These groups are identified as “Adult Chronic Home Care Recipients” in phase I and “Individuals with High Risk Chronic Conditions and their Caregivers” in phase II, however the plan does not explain which individuals are included in these groups.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Government has indicated that logistical decisions regarding local distribution of the vaccine will fall on regional health authorities. Without existing legislative definitions or other definitions in the plan that would otherwise provide clarity regarding who is included in these categories, ARCH is concerned that vaccine distribution will be under-inclusive. Conducting meaningful consultation with persons with disabilities at the local planning level is one important way to address this concern.

Some communities of persons with disabilities are at high risk, but do not receive recognized “home care” or have “caregivers.” Persons may be at increased risk due to their disabilities and because of their support relationships, such as their individual residential setting and their receipt of services and supports.

“Adult Chronic Home Care Recipients” must encompass a broad range of services and supports that persons with disabilities rely on and which create high risk situations. A clearer understanding of who falls within these two categories is important for achieving equality, fairness, and minimize harm to these at-risk groups.

“Our clients continue to report the acute impacts of ongoing COVID-19 policies, including increased isolation, increased risk for transmission of the virus, lack of access to health care and essential supports in accessing healthcare, increased abuse and neglect, and an increase in physical and chemical restraints,” said Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director of ARCH Disability Law Centre. “Not all communities of persons with disabilities who are at high risk live in congregated settings and not all of the home care services are offered through the same channels. It is imperative that any distribution plan acknowledge these realities and ensure that those individuals who are high risk and in high risk settings are not left behind.”

“Persons with disabilities who are high risk and who require supports are not a homogenous group of individuals. Accessibility needs to be a priority,” said Peter Athanasopoulos, Director, Public Policy at Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. “The vaccine rollout plan must address all the diverse congregate care and community based living settings that also create heightened vulnerabilities.”

For more information about Ontario’s plan for vaccination distribution go to:

https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-ontario?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIz9u8jPqA7wIVoQiICR2gPg9KEAAYASAAEgJ6o_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds#covid-19-immunization-program

To read ARCH’s previous Statement on Vaccine Distribution go to:

https://archdisabilitylaw.ca/arch-supports-the-international-disability-alliances-call-for-persons-with-disabilities-to-be-prioritized-in-accessing-covid-19-vaccinations/



February 24, 2021

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