and Ford Government’s Protracted Secrecy on Its Plans if Triage is Needed
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2020 Toronto: The AODA Alliance today unveils two important new captioned online videos addressing a life-and-death issue that is ripe for media reporting as the COVID-19 pandemic surges. Canada’s media is now rightly giving extensive and top coverage to skyrocketing daily COVID-19 infections and the palpable fear that hospitals can’t handle much more. A closely-related equally vital story cries out for such coverage: What is the Ford Government’s plan now for how to decide which patients will be refused life-saving critical medical care they need if COVID-19 cases overload hospitals, requiring rationing or “triage” of limited critical care beds and services?
Last spring, the Ford Government quietly sent hospitals a controversial March 28, 2020 protocol directing who should be refused life-saving critical care if rationing becomes necessary. The Government did not make this public or consult the public on it. After that March 28 protocol was leaked, disability community organizations strongly objected to it as mandating discrimination against some patients because of their disabilities.
We invite the media to include in its COVID-19 coverage the fact that the Ford Government was successfully pressured by disability advocates to finally rescind that widely-condemned March 28 critical care triage protocol three weeks ago, and that the Government now has nothing in place to fill the vacuum. This risks some doctors making triage decisions based on dangerous, unfair stereotypical assumptions about people with disabilities.
Over two months ago, the Ford Government-appointed “Bioethics Table” gave the Government recommendations on what rules should govern critical care triage if it becomes necessary. The Ford Government may use these to fill the vacuum. We urge the media to report on the worrisome fact that the Ontario Human Rights Commission revealed that it has human rights concerns about the Bioethics Table’s recommendations to the Ford Government. Those recommendations are still secret. It is also highly newsworthy that that the Government has been urged to make the Bioethics Table’s recommendations public by the Bioethics Table itself.
In its COVID-19 coverage, we encourage the media to report on the disturbing fact that the Ford Government is only willing to consider sharing with health professionals a replacement triage protocol to fill the risky vacuum if the COVID-19 situation “deteriorates significantly.” The AODA Alliance contends that the Government’s skyrocketing projections for new COVID-19 infections is just such a significant deterioration.
We also encourage the media to let the public know the fact that the Ford Government has only said that if such a deterioration occurs, it “may” send a new triage protocol to health professionals. The Ford Government has not agreed to consult people with disabilities or the broader public before approving such a new protocol.
“It took disability advocates eight exhausting months of grassroots advocacy in the midst of this pandemic and an opposition question in the Legislature’s Question Period to flush out the fact that the Ford Government had finally and only recently withdrawn its widely-condemned March 28, 2020 critical care triage protocol,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, a non-partisan disability coalition that is part of a united disability community effort to protect patients with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. “With this terrifying, relentless and unchecked second wave of COVID-19 now underway, we can’t afford another eight months of advocacy to deal with whatever secret plans the Ford Government is considering to fill the dangerous vacuum it has now created in this life-and-death area.”
Together, these two new captioned online videos reveal the story, up-to-the minute:
1. Disability Rights and Critical Medical Care Triage During COVID-19 Pandemic https://youtu.be/MxpHXUYNP4A
Osgoode Hall Law School Visiting Professor and AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s November 4, 2020 lecture on disability rights objections to the critical medical care triage protocol that the Ontario Government sent to hospitals in case the COVID-19 pandemic overloads hospitals, requiring rationing of critical care.
2. AODA Alliance Presentation: Ontario Bioethics Table on Disability Rights & COVID-19 Triage Protocols https://youtu.be/MAigGhN5zB4
Osgoode Hall Law School Visiting Professor and AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s August 31, 2020 presentation to the Ontario Government-appointed Bioethics Table, addressing disability rights and human rights problems with the Ontario Government’s protocol for triage of critical care patients if the COVID-19pandemic overloads hospitals with more cases than critical care beds, with an introduction explaining this presentation’s background and context.
This video shows what the AODA Alliance told the Bioethics Table. The Ford Government’s continued secrecy in this area prevents the public from knowing whether and to what extent the Bioethics Table acted upon the input given in this video.
Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, [email protected]
For more background on this issue, check out:
1. The AODA Alliance’s unanswered September 25, 2020 letter and its November 2, 2020 letter to Health Minister Christine Elliott
2. The August 30, 2020 AODA Alliance final written submission to the Ford Government’s Bioethics Table that is the basis of the presentation included in the second video, announced above
3. The April 8, 2020 open letter to the Ford Government on the medical triage protocol spearheaded by the ARCH Disability Law Centre, of which the AODA Alliance is one of many co-signatories
4. The April 14, 2020 AODA Alliance Discussion Paper on Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities
5. The July 16, 2020 AODA Alliance Update that lists additional concerns with the revised draft triage protocol. That Update also sets out the Ford Government Bioethics Table’s revised draft triage protocol itself.
6. The AODA Alliance website’s health care page, detailing our efforts to tear down barriers in the health care system facing patients with disabilities, and our COVID-19 page, detailing our efforts to address the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.