Joel Harden MPP / Député, Ottawa Centre

Government of Ontario

MPP Joel Harden, disability rights advocates call on government to remove disability discrimination from triage protocol

Published on April 21, 2021

QUEENS PARK —MPP Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre) called on the government to withdraw disability discrimination from Ontario’s clinical triage protocol and immediately hold a public consultation on how care will be triaged if ICUs become too overwhelmed to fully treat everyone.
Harden was joined at a Wednesday morning press conference by David Lepofsky, Chair of the AODA Alliance, Sarah Jama, Co-founder of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, and Mariam Shanouda, Staff Lawyer at ARCH Disability Law Centre, all of whom are expressing deep concerns about the protocol and the secrecy surrounding it.
“The government must remove disability discrimination from its triage protocol, and assure people with disabilities that they won’t be deprioritized for life-saving critical care.” said Harden. 
The government continues to ignore human rights concerns raised by disability rights leaders, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission about its approach to clinical triage. They have not held open consultations, and it was disability organizations and MPP Harden, not the government, that made public the January 13, 2021 triage protocol which was sent to hospitals.
David Lepofsky, Chair, AODA Alliance
"Our non-partisan grassroots coalition agrees that Ontario must be prepared for the possibility of critical care triage, but Ontario’s plan must include a triage protocol, mandated by the Legislature, that does not violate the Charter of Rights or the Ontario Human Rights Code by discriminating against people with disabilities or denying them due process. They have already disproportionately suffered the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Sarah Jama, Co-founder, Disability Justice Network of Ontario
“We are in a time of deep crisis, and need to offer paid sick days and increase social assistance rates for community members without work from home jobs, or a safety net. But rather than make these preventative policy decisions, our government has created conditions where doctors must rank who gets to live and who gets to die.”

Mariam Shanouda, Staff Lawyer, ARCH Disability Law Centre
"Health care, including critical care during a pandemic, must be available free from unlawful discrimination. This is a life and death non-partisan issue. The choice must not be whether we have no triage plan or one that discriminates. And let’s be clear, the current plan is discriminatory and will disproportionately impact persons with disabilities who have already disproportionately experienced devastating consequences from this pandemic."