Press Release – Open Letter from Major Disability Organizations Calling on the Ontario Government to Ensure Persons are not Deprioritized from Accessing Critical Care Because of their Disability
TORONTO, April 8, 2020 – An open letter to the Ontario Government from over 200 disability and community organizations and over 4,800 individuals raises grave concerns about the Clinical Triage Protocol for Major Surge in COVID Pandemic (Ontario Health), dated March 28, 2020, because it threatens to deprioritize access to critical care to some patients due in part to their disability – a clear violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The open letter, a link to which is provided below, explains that according to the Triage Protocol, people living with certain disabilities, such as Parkinson Disease, may be ranked as a lower priority when deciding who receives critical care. Similarly, the Triage Protocol indicates that in some circumstances, people who receive supports for daily living, such as those with moderate-to-severe cognitive impairments and the clinically frail elderly, are less likely to receive critical care.
“A person’s disability must not be used as a reason to deprioritize a person’s need for critical care, even during difficult periods of medical care shortages,” said lawyer Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director of the ARCH Disability Law Centre, a co-signatory to the letter. “Doctors, nurses, EMTs or other health care providers must ensure that their decisions are not informed by discriminatory assumptions or stereotypes about the ‘quality of life’ of a person with a disability. Increasingly, people with disabilities are fearful that this is what they are about to face. They desperately need the Government to make it loud and clear that this will not be tolerated.”
“Health care providers need clear, fair and ethically-sound direction in line with our human rights protections on what to do should decisions about scarce medical resources have to be made,” said Lattanzio. “We urge the Government to immediately withdraw this triage protocol, consult with disability communities, and ensure that any revised protocol includes a clear statement reaffirming human rights protections including the right to disability related accommodations and supports, and that disability will not be a factor in determining priority for critical medical treatment.”
Yesterday, this was one of the important issues discussed at a ground-breaking online Virtual Public Forum on what governments must do to meet the urgent needs of people with disabilities during the COVID crisis, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ23it9ULjc .
It is important to keep in mind that some people with disabilities bear the disproportionate risk of getting this disease, the greater risk of severe medical consequences from it, and moreover at a higher risk of being denied critical care when needed most.
To view the Open Letter go to archdisabilitylaw.ca .
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Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director
ARCH Disability Law Centre
Toll-free: 1-866-482-2724 extension 2233