February 9th, 2021

OTTAWA, ON – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, and the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights have sent a formal letter to the Canadian government identifying the human rights violations likely to occur if Bill C-7 (medical assistance in dying), designed to expand access to people with disabilities who are not dying, is passed into law. 

The experts raise concern that in expanding access to those who are not at the end of life the bill would violate human rights as protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

They conclude, “In sum, we are deeply concerned that the eligibility criteria set out in Bill C-7… may be of a discriminatory nature, or have a discriminatory impact, as by singling out the suffering associated with disability as being of a different quality and kind than any other suffering, they potentially subject persons with disabilities to discrimination on account of such disability.” 

Krista Carr, Executive Vice President of Inclusion Canada commented “As the UN experts note, Bill C-7 is indeed discriminatory. The process by which it was drafted was discriminatory. The assumptions that underpin it are discriminatory. And the application of Bill C-7 will undoubtedly discriminate against people with disabilities. Canada must not turn away from this hard truth.” 

Communications from the UN’s Special Rapporteurs are issued in the most pressing circumstances to draw the attention of Governments and others on alleged human rights violations. After outlining their concerns, the UN experts are challenging the Canadian Government to demonstrate that:  Bill C-7 is not discriminatory, they have adequately considered alternative courses of action, and they have appropriately consulted people with disabilities.

Robin Acton, President of Inclusion Canada, responded that “Canada takes great pride in being a leader in the advancement of human rights. In what dystopian world would Canada knowingly pass legislation that violates the human rights of people with disabilities? Senators, we need you to fulfill your role in Canadian democracy as the chamber of sober second thought. We need you to kill Bill C-7.”

The backdrop of this condemnation is a global pandemic that has had a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities, particularly those who are racialized, Indigenous, and living in poverty. Bill C-7 is at third reading in the Senate of Canada.

The full letter can be accessed:   

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Media Contact: Marc Muschler, Senior Communications Officer, Inclusion Canada, 

Inclusion Canada is a national federation of 13 provincial-territorial associations and over 300 local associations working to advance the full inclusion and human rights of people with an intellectual disability and their families. We lead the way in building an inclusive Canada by strengthening families, defending rights, and transforming communities into places where everyone belongs.