Letter in Opposition to Bill C-7 Signed By 129 Canadian Disabled People’s Organizations and Allies

I hope that philosophers will begin to support Canadian disabled people in their political struggle against Bill C-7, proposed legislation that targets them. The grievous injustice that Bill C-7 embodies should be of particular concern to Canadian philosophers given that a number of their colleagues have initiated it, developed it, and lobbied for it. Where to start? Email/phone Members of Parliament and urge them to vote in opposition to Bill C-7 in the House of Commons. Then, educate yourself more generally about the ableism embedded in legislation, policy, bioethics, and philosophical discourse.

________________________________________________

Dear Members of Parliament,

We, the undersigned member organizations and allies of the disability rights community, ask the Government of Canada to stop and rethink the radical and highly divisive changes proposed for Canada’s medical assistance in dying regime in Bill C-7. Bill C-7 sets apart people with disabilities and disabling conditions as the only Canadians to be offered assistance in dying when they are not actually nearing death. This core feature of the Bill is not widely understood, even among Canadian parliamentarians, with the result that many may find themselves supporting a Bill without grappling with its implications.

As it stands, Bill C-7 is dangerous and discriminatory. Three United Nations experts have warned that Bill C-7 will violate international human rights conventions to which Canada is a signatory. Canadian legal experts warn that Bill C-7 will violate the Charter rights of persons with disabilities. People with disabilities, including in particular those who are marginalized, Black, Indigenous, racialized and poor, have warned that Bill C-7 will undermine their dignity and put their very lives at risk.

Canadians with disabilities are hearing MPs and Senators arguing that lives just like theirs featuring disabilities just like theirs are not livable. This is harmful and hurtful and stigmatizing. Parliamentarians have a responsibility to think through the unintended but entirely foreseeable consequences of new legislation, recognizing that people with disabilities face overwhelming barriers to disability support services, mental health care, housing, income security and other means and measures essential to a dignified life. The reality is that for many people with disabilities, dehumanizing long term care homes are the only option. And now MAiD?

It is time for our lawmakers to grapple honestly with ableism and refrain from empty gestures of concern when Canadians with disabilities speak up in desperation. It is long past time for a courageous and comprehensive response to the many ways in which people with disabling conditions are made to suffer unbearable lives. Expanding the availability of medically assisted death for this social group, and only this social group, is not a good faith response to the Québec Superior Court’s decision in Truchon. To quote minister Lametti, letting the Truchon deadline lapse may temporarily permit some uncertainty in how the Criminal Code is applied in Québec with respect to medical assistance in dying. While this is, as he acknowledged, “a matter of general concern”, it is a matter of far greater concern to pass into law an amendment that authorizes physicians to end the lives of patients who have been denied every opportunity to live decent and dignified lives.

Take your time, start over, and get this right. As you do so, be careful to heed the advice of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: “Listen closely to the most directly affected. Their antenna is highly attuned to ableism. When they see it, you should pause and reflect before proceeding”.

Bill C-7 is not the answer.

Signed by representatives of,

  1. Inclusion Canada
  2. Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association
  3. Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship
  4. Communication Disabilities Access Canada
  5. The Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society (IRIS)
  6. L’Arche Canada
  7. B.C. Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS)
  8. ARCH Disability Law Centre
  9. Council of Canadians with Disabilities
  10. Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet
  11. People First of Canada
  12. The DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada / Réseau d’Action des Femmes
    Handicapées du Canada (DAWN-RAFH Canada)
  13. Independent Living Canada – Vie autonome Canada
  14. Muscular Dystrophy Canada
  15. CNIB
  16. Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW)
  17. Black Health Alliance
  18. Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA)
  19. National Association of Women and the Law/Association nationale Femmes et Droit
  20. Accessibility for All
  21. Vivre dans la Dignité / Living with Dignity
  22. Spinal Cord Injury Canada
  23. Refuge Newcomer Health
  24. The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia
  25. Canadian Physicians for Life
  26. Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
  27. The Disability Justice Network of Ontario
  28. Reproductive Justice New Brunswick
  29. Inclusion BC
  30. Société québécoise de la déficience intellectuelle
  31. Plan Institute
  32. Tangled Art + Disability
  33. Delta Hospice Society
  34. The Disability Rights Coalition of Nova Scotia
  35. Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO)
  36. SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) Toronto
  37. Independent Living Nova Scotia
  38. Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion
  39. Choose Life Niagara
  40. Inclusion Lloydminster
  41. Inclusion Foothills Association
  42. Resources Supporting Family and Community Legacies Inc
  43. Families for a Secure Future
  44. Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network
  45. BeConnected Support Services
  46. Family Support Institute of BC
  47. Chilliwack Society for Community Living
  48. The HOME Society
  49. Community Homes Action Group, Nova Scotia
  50. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall
  51. Inclusion Amherst
  52. Le Mouvement Citoyen Handicap-Québec
  53. GTA Disability Coalition
  54. BCEdAccess Society
  55. Life Changes Coaching
  56. Ocean Ridge Support Services
  57. Gateway Healthcare
  58. Inclusion Powell River
  59. POOF Protecting ODSP OW Funding
  60. Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University
  61. Broadreach Training and Resources
  62. Hamilton Catholic Doctors Organization
  63. Toronto Board of Rabbis
  64. Kamloops Pro-life Society
  65. PEI Association for Community Living
  66. Collingwood medical clinic, Vancouver BC
  67. Straits Association for Community Living
  68. National Association of Catholic Nurses – Canada
  69. Pei League for Equal Opportunities
  70. Inclusion Selkirk
  71. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
  72. Concerned Ontario Doctors
  73. People First Nova Scotia
  74. Canadian Centre for Christian Charities
  75. Empower, The Disability Resource Centre
  76. MSU Student Health Education Centre (SHEC)
  77. Black Medical Student Association
  78. Hamilton Community Legal Clinic
  79. No Pride in Policing Coalition
  80. DMI Ministries
  81. Pluralie
  82. Schizophrenia Society of Newfoundland & Labrador
  83. Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living
  84. Independent Living Centre London and Area
  85. Bathesda Christian Association
  86. Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion
  87. Christian Legal Fellowship / Alliance des chrétiens en droit
  88. Inclusion Saskatchewan
  89. ARPA Canada
  90. The Poverty and Human Rights Centre
  91. Spring Socialist Network
  92. Fédération des femmes du Québec
  93. Hand Over Hand
  94. Community Living Welland Pelham
  95. The New Brunswick Association for Community Living
  96. Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary
  97. Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy
  98. Muslim Medical Association of Ottawa
  99. ODSP Action Coalition
  100. Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies
  101. Self Advocates of Semiahmoo
  102. The Richmond Centre for Disability
  103. the Legion of Mary Curia in Calgary
  104. Inclusion Calgary
  105. God Squad Canada
  106. Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter
  107. St. Catherine of Siena Chapter of the Lay Dominicans of the Canadian Province
  108. Family Alliance Ontario
  109. Limestone Family Support Group Inc.,
  110. Ontario Disability Coalition
  111. Lifetime Circles
  112. Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtiit Society’s
  113. Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians
  114. The Sacred Arts Guild of Alberta
  115. Inclusion Winnipeg
  116. The Catholic Women’s League of Canada and local chapters1
  117. Canadian Angelman Syndrome Society
  118. The Cooperators of the Heralds of the Gospel – Calgary
  119. Physicians Together with Vulnerable Canadians
  120. Platform
  121. Inclusion Alberta
  122. Assembly of Women Religious of the Diocese of Calgary
  123. Inclusion Edmonton Region
  124. Spectrum Society for Community Living
  125. Inclusion Nova Scotia
  126. Community Living Ontario
  127. l’Institut National pour l’Équité, l’Égalité et l’Inclusion des personnes en situation
    de handicap (INÉÉI-PSH)
  128. Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
  129. L’Arche Halifax

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