The Law Office

First of all, let’s learn about Human Rights — what they are and where they came from. Watch this excellent 10-minute video:

Here is a plain-language list of the 30 human rights, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

What is the State of Living with Dignity in Canadian Law? Does the law recognize a right to have one’s dignity protected?

Canada is a signatory to the UN Declaration on Human Rights of 1948. That declaration has been ratified by the federal government and every provincial and territorial government in Canada. It has two parts: the ICCPR, and the ICESCR. The first has to do with Civil and Political Rights; and the second has to do with social, economic and cultural rights. “Protection of economic, social and cultural rights has been deemed necessary as the right to live a dignified life can never be attained unless all basic necessities of life – work, food, housing, health care, education and culture – are adequately and equitably available to everyone.” The Chief Commissioner of Canada’s Federal Human Rights Commission, Marie-Claude Landry, says:MAiD cannot be an answer to systemic inequality“.

Canada became a State party to the ICESCR in 1976. (ICESCR = International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights). The enforcement mechanisms are voluntary, but the obligations are real. To learn more, check out this document from the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Canada is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). In June 2022, for the first time, a Canadian was elected to sit on the committee that oversees the work related to the CRPD. Our representative, Laverne Jacobs, is a black law professor whose interests include opposing MAID for people with disabilities who are not dying. She presented her views to a Senate committee back in 2020.

To learn more about the history of assisted suicide law in Canada, please visit The Library. Meanwhile here is a short list of cases and Bills to know about:

What are the current cases or issues before the Courts in Canada right now? How can a new case or issue come before the Courts? Is there money to help with the cost of legal challenges?

We are not lawyers, and we don’t have a lawyer on staff. However, the plan is to have these questions and more answered over time, in language that everyone can understand.

Not all of the legal fights are at the Federal level. Health law is provincial. Income supports, disability supports, home care, etc., are all managed provincially; some housing and other issues are managed municipally. How can you find your way through?

For Canada’s Indigenous peoples with disabilities, the legal picture is even more complex and problematic. Jurisdictional disputes and levels of colonial irresponsibility are incredibly damaging to indigenous folks, disabled or not, but adding in the complications of disability compounds the problems exponentially. Colonialism itself is a source of much intergenerational disability, including but not limited to complex post-traumatic stress, the effects of which are felt throughout both indigenous and colonial societies.

Some indigenous peoples have applied a mutual aid model in meeting their own needs in the face of absent government support. Can we support and learn from indigenous efforts?

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