Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
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May 7, 2021
Below is an important guest column that ran in the May 7, 2021 Toronto Star in the print newspaper and online, by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. It summarizes the serious problems with Ontario’s critical care triage protocol and plans. Even if the crisis in Ontario hospitals seems to be levelling off for the moment, it is still very important that the Ford Government address these issues which people with disabilities have been raising for over a year.
We encourage you to:
1. Write a letter to the editor at the Toronto Star with your comments on this guest column. Email the Star at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Encourage the Star to give this topic as much attention as possible.
2. Forward this guest column to your member of the Ontario Legislature with your comments.
3. Share this guest column on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Encourage others to read it and to share it with others. The link to post that takes people right to the Toronto Star guest column is https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/05/07/ontarios-triage-protocol-unlawfully-discriminates-against-people-with-disabilities.html
4. Send this guest column to your local media and to any reporters you know. Encourage them to cover this disability issue, which touches the lives of so many Ontarians. Phone in to call-in radio programs to raise this issue. Tell them how you feel about the danger of disability discrimination in Ontario’s critical care triage protocol.
For more background, check out and widely share:
1. The new captioned online video by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky that explains the entire critical care triage protocol issue from a disability perspective, for those who don’t know the ins and outs.
2. The AODA Alliance’s February 25, 2021 report that details serious problems with the Ontario critical care triage protocol.
3. The AODA Alliance website’s health care page.
Toronto Star May 7, 2021
Triage protocol unlawfully discriminates against disabilities
David Lepofsky Contributor
People with disabilities are disproportionately prone to get COVID-19, to suffer its worst effects and to die from it. Cruelly compounding this, Ontario’s protocol for triage of critical care would explicitly discriminate against some patients with disabilities who need life-saving critical care. People with disabilities deserve better.
If overloaded ICUs can’t accommodate all patients, rationing or “triage” means some patients will die because doctors will deny them needed critical care. We need a lawful protocol to govern such decisions. Ontario’s protocol isn’t lawful in part because of its disability discrimination.
For example, Ontario’s protocol would rank a cancer patient lower depending on their disability’s severity. That’s blatant disability discrimination. As well, patients over 65 with progressive diseases (e.g., MS, arthritis or Parkinson’s) are ranked lower for each of these activities they can’t do independently: get out of bed, eat, shop, use the phone or do finances.
Ontario’s protocol treats you like a blob on a gurney with no due process and no say. Two doctors rank you and give you the bad news.
With your life at stake, you cannot get the decision reviewed, even on a lightning-fast basis.
No wonder the Ontario Human Rights Commission, disability organizations and six bioethicists on Premier Ford’s advisory Bioethics Table all voiced serious objections. Ford’s approach is dangerously wrong. The protocol was developed and sent to hospitals in secret, with no public consultation by the government’s decision-makers. It isn’t on the government website. (We posted a leaked copy on www.aodaalliance.org.)
Some doctors and others are calling the shots in government back rooms. That is unfair to the public, people with disabilities and triage doctors.
Doctors use this protocol at their peril. Premier Ford is tap-dancing in a constitutional minefield. It’s wrong to direct doctors on who lives or dies by memo. Even worse, Ford may try to suspend the requirement that a patient must consent before needed care is discontinued.
Those defending the protocol argue it doesn’t discriminate because it says a patient’s stable disability, like autism, mustn’t be held against them. Yet the protocol discriminates against others based on progressive disabilities.
Government must remove disability discrimination from Ontario’s critical care triage protocol. It must afford due process to patients whose lives are in jeopardy. Instead of hiding and ducking questions, the premier should hold an open debate and pass legislation governing this, with public input.
The government must commit that if critical care triage occurs, it will daily report the number of people who are refused needed critical care due to triage. If Ford sombrely announces that the pandemic emergency requires critical care triage, remember he’s secretly planned for this possibility for over a year.
David Lepofsky is chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.