Intervene for equal health care for persons with addictions
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People suffering from addiction should not have to prove to doctors they have conquered their disability before they are allowed access to treatment.
Last fall, the Ontario Human Rights Commission made a commitment to support and intervene in applications before the Tribunal to actively challenge cases where doctors allegedly denied service delivery to people based on mental health or addiction disabilities.
Now is the time to ask Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall to keep her promise. Next week she will decide whether to intervene in my husband’s application.
My husband paid the highest price of discrimination in the Ontario health care system. UHN doctors made him wait 6 months to get on the liver transplant wait list until he could prove he could stop being a person with an alcohol addiction disability.
At transplant centres non alcoholic patients are assessed individually for transplant based on urgency and medical condition. Alcoholic patients are judged as a group. They told us they would not “waste the organ because he would just start drinking again.” When I said I would be a living donor, they said “they would not even waste the money on the surgery.”
Their message was clear. “You are better off dead than alive and drinking.”
My husband did not make it. I watched as they let him die. And I am saying, “What the doctors did was horribly wrong.”
I need your support. The Ontario government is paying three lawyers to fight this case; Minister of Health Deb Matthews has chosen to ignore her responsibilities for this issue. Instead she is sending the message to doctors it is OK to violate the human rights of those with disabilities.
Please tell Commissioner Hall to do what she said she was going to do: stand up for those with disabilities and intervene in matters where those with addictions are denied treatment.
My husband is gone. But, I am here to fight to have those guidelines struck.
These guidelines remain in place at every transplant centre in Ontario. The public interest remedy in this matter is huge. People with disabilities should not have to pass a test before they are allowed access to medical treatment. Doctors should not be allowed to set their own treatment criteria if these breach human rights laws.
Please join me. Ask Commissioner Hall to stand up for the rights of those with mental health and addiction challenges. Ask her to send a message to Ontario doctors that our Charter states everyone has a right to life. And that doctors cannot set guidelines that send those with disabilities to the back of the line.
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