Meeting with Minister of Health and Deputy Premier, Christine Elliott

On July 8th, Community Living Ontario CEO Chris Beesley met with Ontario’s Minister of Health and Deputy Premier, the Hon. Christine Elliott. They discussed the Ontario Health COVID-19 triage protocol that we believe discriminates on the basis of disability and the need for a province-wide regulation regarding essential supporters in health care settings.

In its current ‘draft’ form, the COVID-19 triage protocol would make it possible for health care facilities to deny critical care to people because of their disability in the event that facilities are overwhelmed. Community Living Ontario has recommended that the Ministry of Health remove this aspect of the protocol.

We are pleased that Minister Elliott agreed with our perspective on this issue, and has committed to asking the province’s COVID-19 Command Table to review and revise the triage protocol.

With respect to essential supporters in health care settings, Chris and the minister discussed the fact that family members and other supporters of people who have an intellectual disability face different policies from region to region. Given the critical need for people who have an intellectual disability to be adequately supported in hospitals, we recommended that the Ministry of Health create a province-wide regulation that applies to all health care facilities.

Minister Elliott agreed that it is important to ensure that people who have an intellectual disability are able to have someone to support them during hospital visits, and committed to putting this issue forward to the COVID-19 Command Table.

It is notable that the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently taken action on triage protocols and essential supporters. The HHS worked with state governments in Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Alabama to overturn discriminatory triage protocols, and with Connecticut to provide reasonable access to support persons in hospital settings.

We will continue to follow these issues closely and provide updates on any progress.