Press Release – Government Response indicates Ontario Health is Engaging in Consultation with Human Rights and Key Community Experts on the Triage Protocol
TORONTO, April 22, 2020 – An open letter from the Ontario Government was delivered to various recipients, including ARCH Disability Law Centre, on April 21, 2020. The letter, which is undated, appears to be a response to the grave concerns raised by major disability organizations in regards to the Clinical Triage Protocol for Major Surge in COVID Pandemic, authored by Ontario Health and dated March 28, 2020.
The grave concerns were set out in an open letter, a link to which is provided below, which was signed by over 200 disability and community organizations and over 4,800 individuals and delivered to the Ontario Government on April 8, 2020. The letter also made various recommendations for Ontario Health’s consideration, underscoring the need for consistency with human rights law.
The Ontario Government’s response advises that Ontario Health has been directed to consult with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, as well as human rights and key community experts to ensure that persons from marginalized communities, including disability communities, the elderly, Indigenous communities and racialized communities, are not disproportionately impacted by any medical protocol developed in response to COVID-19.
The Government’s open letter stipulates that the current Protocol is a draft document not approved nor authorized. However, the government fails to provide any reassurance that the current draft Protocol – which threatens to deprioritize access to critical care to some patients due in part to their disability and is in clear violation of Ontario’s Human Rights Code – has been withdrawn, nor is there any indication of what would guide critical care decisions if health care resources reach critical levels prior to the Protocol receiving government authorization.
Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director of ARCH states that, “ARCH welcomes the Ontario Government’s recognition of the importance to consult with communities that will be most adversely impacted by any medical protocol created in response to this pandemic.” At the same time, he says, “the Government must ensure that disability organizations and individuals from disability communities identified specifically in the Protocol, including persons with cognitive disabilities and persons with Parkinson Disease, should have a seat at the consultation table.”
ARCH Disability Law Centre has requested further information from Ontario Health regarding any consultation.
To view the Open Letter go to www.archdisabilitylaw.ca/resource/open-letter-ontario-covid-19-triage-protocol.
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Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director
ARCH Disability Law Centre
Toll-free: 1-866-482-2724 extension 2233