The Supreme Court of Canada granted a four-month extension on the effective date of the Carter judgment to June 6, 2016.
What does this extension mean to Canadians?
The provisions of the federal criminal code that prohibit doctor assisted dying will be in effect until June 6, 2016. After June 6, 2016, a competent adult with an “irremediable medical condition that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition” can get help from a doctor to die.
It’s up to Parliament, between now and June 6, to define the terms of the ruling, decide who is eligible and describe the conditions that must be met before a person can be helped to die.
Report of Federal Expert Panel Released
The federal panel released a 461 page report on January 18, 2016. This panel includes an expert in palliative care, a person with a disability, a retired professor and human rights commissioner and an expert in constitution law. The panel’s mandate was to summarize the input received from 73 individual experts in Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland, 92 representatives of interveners, medical authorities and stakeholders from 46 Canadian organizations. It also considered 321 written submissions from civil society organizations, academics and individual citizens, in addition to 14,949 on-line questionnaires.
Key highlights from the online survey expressed high levels of support for the following:
a national oversight body for physician-assisted dying;
a national strategy on palliative and end-of-life care;
a comprehensive national home-care strategy;
a national strategy on disability supports; and,
palliative care education for all healthcare providers.
In the next few weeks, the appointed Special Joint Parliamentary Committee on Physician Assisted Death has a lot of work to do. It will review the report from the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada and other recent relevant consultation activities and studies. It will also consult with Canadians, experts and stakeholders and make recommendations on the framework of a federal response on physician-assisted dying that respects the Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the priorities of Canadians. The Committee must make its report by February 26, 2016, not a lot of time to make such important decisions.
Whether we like it or not, judgments made by this Committee will make decisions that will govern the life and death of Canadians for decades to come. It will affect all of us in one way or another. Let’s hope they have the experience, knowledge and wisdom to craft a regulatory framework to ensure the health and safety of vulnerable Canadians.
More information on this subject can be accessed at http://eol.law.dal.ca/?page_id=236 or
Education for Life Bursary
July 15, 2016, is the application deadline for ACCD’s 2016-2017 Education for Life Bursary. Students with disabilities seeking to continue their education as post-secondary students are eligible to receive bursaries ranging from $300 to $1,000. All full- and part-time post-secondary students are eligible for the bursary. Details and an application form can be found on our website at www.accd.net, or you can contact the ACCD office at 780-488-9088 or toll free at 1-800-387-2514.
Barrier-free Dental, Eye Care and Pharmacies in Alberta
For the past eighteen months, ACCD has been carrying out a literature review, holding focus groups and providing online surveys to solicit information on accessible dental, eye care and pharmacies in Alberta from people with disabilities and professionals. During this time we held 7 focus groups in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie and Metis/First Nations, conducted 21 accessibility assessments, had 164 surveys filled out by professionals and 208 filled out by people with disabilities.
In addition, we worked with the faculty of Pharmacy and Dentistry students to create accessible premises and improve communication. Presentations were made at the RxA Spring Alberta Professional Development Conference and the Canadian Pharmacy Association annual conference.
The literature review, focus groups and surveys gave us the following information:
29% of people with disabilities report having difficulty communicating with dental professionals
35% of people with disabilities report having difficulty communicating with eye care profes-sionals
22% of people with disabilities report having difficulty communicating with pharmacy professionals
76% of dental, eye care and pharmacy professionals report that their patients have difficulty getting transportation from home to the clinic/pharmacy
52% of dental, eye care and pharmacy professionals report that their patients have difficulty communicating with them
43% of pharmacy professionals report that their patients have difficulty with prescription bottles and/or packaging
71% of dental, eye care and pharmacy professionals report that they did not receive any training about serving people with disabilities
48% of dental, eye care and pharmacy practices report that they have no policies and procedures about meeting the needs of people with disabilities
We are putting the finishing touches on our final document and recommendations which will be released on February 19th, 2016. Thank you to the Alberta Human Rights and Multiculturalism Grant Program for funding this important project and thank you to the people with disabilities and health care professionals who so generously gave us their time and shared their experiences.
ACCD is available to make presentations on our findings. Please call 780-488-9088 and ask for Bev to set up a date and time.
HOW ABOUT VOLUNTEERING FOR A BINGO!
Working a bingo is good for you! How, you say? Well, you get exercise by walking around the bingo hall. You meet and socialize with other people. And, you can be pleased that you are volunteering to help people with disabilities. We will provide you with a meal, camaraderie and the knowledge that you will be helping ACCD work towards full participation in society by Albertans with disabilities. Please call Annette at 780-488-9088 for more information.
SAVE THE DATE! ACCD’s annual meeting will take place on May 28, 2016, in Edmonton. Join us to meet our board of directors and learn more about ACCD’s work. Call 780-488-9088 for more information.