Disability Rights Groups Call for Public Hearing on Canada’s MAiD Law at International Human Rights Body
For Immediate Release
September 22, 2022
A coalition of 20 Canadian disability rights groups has filed a request for a public hearing into the discrimination present in Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying legislation and its grave consequences for persons with disabilities. The request for a hearing was made to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an independent body that promotes and protects human rights throughout the Americas. The coalition is represented by ARCH Disability Law Centre.
In Canada, medical assistance in dying (MAiD) law allows doctors and nurses to assist a person to end their life. When first legalized throughout Canada, MAiD was only for people who were suffering because of a disability, illness or disease and whose natural death was reasonably foreseeable. In March 2021, changes to the law expanded eligibility. Canada now allows people with disabilities, illnesses or diseases who are suffering, and who meet the other eligibility criteria in the law, to get medical assistance to die when not at the end of their natural life.
Canada’s law permits assisted dying to end suffering only for people with disabilities and disabling conditions. “Disability rights defenders across Canada have repeatedly raised the alarm about the impact of this law” stated Catherine Frazee, former Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. “Why single out people with disabling conditions for special access to a premature death? When non-disabled people wish to die, the state comes to their aid with life-affirming interventions. Why for us, a special pass to medically-induced death? There is no answer to this question that is not premised in fundamentally ableist values and prejudice.”
People with disabilities are a protected group under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, people with disabilities are marginalized by widespread poverty, lack of employment, barriers to disability services and supports, lack of adequate housing, and discriminatory attitudes. Coalition groups are witnessing people with disabilities apply for or die by MAiD not because they want to end their lives, but out of desperation, because they cannot get the supports needed to live with dignity in the community.
United Nations experts have warned Canada that its MAiD regime violates international human rights.
“Canada has repeatedly dismissed the concerns of people with disabilities. Our clients are deeply concerned that people with disabilities are dying by MAiD not because they want to end their lives, but because the social and economic conditions they live in are so dehumanizing. We have asked the IACHR for a hearing and trust they will take these rights violations seriously,” said Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director of ARCH.
In the past, serious concerns have been raised against Canada at the Inter-American Commission, including the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and Girls.
The coalition’s request to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is available at: https://archdisabilitylaw.ca/request-to-inter-american-commission-on-human-rights-for-hearing-on-maid/
Media inquiries can be directed to:
Kerri Joffe, Counsel for the Coaltion, ARCH Disability Law Centre [email protected]
More information about the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, go to: https://www.oas.org/en/iachr/