The Coalition on Alternatives to Guardianship is hoping the provincial government looks past some of the recommendations made by the Law Commission of Ontario and adopt supported decision-making for situations where people are unable to make personal decisions independently.
On Wednesday (March 8th), the Law Commission of Ontario came out with its Final Report on Legal Capacity, Decision-Making and Guardianship.
While the Law Commission’s report recommended reforms to legal capacity, decision-making and guardianship laws, it stopped short of providing an alternative to guardianship.
The Coalition, comprised of Community Living Ontario, People First of Ontario, People First of Canada, and the Canadian Association for Community Living, provided the Law Commission with a comprehensive draft statutory framework for supported decision-making that was developed by legal experts.
“The reforms we put forward would give legal recognition to what so many people and families now do in practice, which is interdependent decision-making guided by a person’s will and preferences,” said Chris Beesley, Chief Executive Officer of Community Living Ontario.
Supported decision-making is legally recognized in British Columbia, the Yukon, Manitoba and increasingly in jurisdictions around the world. In addition, it was recognized in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Canada ratified in 2010.
“The Law Commission failed Ontarians who have an intellectual disability and their families, because everyone should be able to make their own decisions regardless of whether they need support or not,” said Kory Earle, President of People First of Canada.
“The reality is that many people who have an intellectual disability cannot even change their address with the Canada Revenue Agency or open a Registered Disability Savings Plan without a guardian being appointed. We’re asking the Government of Ontario to follow the lead of other provinces and territories by providing a third option, so that we have more of a say when we go to the bank, speak with our doctor or participate in the community in other ways. ”
The Coalition’s supported decision-making framework provided a series of robust safeguards to protect people under supported decision-making, including specified commitments by supporters, enabling the appointment of monitors, notification of a supported decision-making arrangement being put into place, measures to investigate situations of harm, abuse or neglect, and the creation of a special tribunal to consider complaints and to mediate disputes among supporters and individuals.
“The Law Commission adopted all these recommendations, but only for those under powers of attorney. It says it would be too complex to extend these safeguards to supported decision-making, where people are not able to appoint a power of attorney. Instead, it calls for more research,” stated Brendon Pooran, Principal at PooranLaw Professional Corporation.
“I receive calls from families every day in my practice looking for an alternative because their son or daughter cannot appoint power of attorney and the costs, complexities and most importantly, the human rights implications of guardianship rightfully prevent people from pursuing that option. Persons with intellectual disabilities should not be required to forfeit their right to make their own decisions due to gaps in our legislative framework.”
The Law Commission of Ontario’s Final Report on Legal Capacity, Decision-Making and Guardianship and its implications for people who have an intellectual disability will be the focus of Community Living Ontario’s 2017 Policy Forum on March 27th, hosted by the Ryerson School of Disability Studies.
The policy forum is open to anyone interested in the discussion around guardianship and decision-making. To ensure that cost is not a barrier to participation, the event is free but registration is required.
Click here to register. There is a voluntary registration fee of $40 for people who can pay to help offset expenses.
Community Living Ontario’s 2017 Social Policy Forum: March 27, 2017 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Ryerson University Jorgenson Hall, Room POD 250 380 Victoria Street, Toronto
Lunch will be provided.
Ron Laroche, Community Living Ontario