UN Human Rights Experts' Statement Condemning Medically-Assisted Death for People with Disabilities Not at End-of-Life Means that Canada is No Longer an International Leader in Human Rights

January 29, 2021 | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WINNIPEG – The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national disability rights organization, is highlighting a recent statement by United Nations human rights experts condemning the growing trend towards legalizing Medically Assisted Death for people with disabilities who are not at end-of-life as “definitive evidence” that Bill C-7, the Liberal government’s proposed expansion of Canada’s MAiD law, is  a direct violation of Canada’s commitments as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

“We all accept that it could never be a well-reasoned decision for a person belonging to any other protected group – be it a racial minority, gender or sexual minorities - to end their lives because they experience suffering on account of their status,” the experts said. “Disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly.”

“The UN Experts’ statement echoes what the disability rights community has  been telling the Trudeau government throughout this whole process,” said Dr. Heidi Janz, Chair of CCD’s Ending-of-Life Ethics Committee.

“They’ve consistently ignored us on this. I’m not hopeful that they’ll pay attention to the UN either, even in spite of the pride they take in Canada ostensibly being a world leader in upholding human rights,” Janz said.

Like Jean Truchon, Jonathan Marchand is a man with disabilities who is stuck living in a Quebec long-term care facility. But rather than demanding the right to die, he is one of many disabled people fighting for the right to live independently in the community. “Bill C-7 is very discriminatory, MAiD was initially for people at the very end of their lives. Now they are expanding it to people with disabilities as there is this prevalent thinking that our lives are not worth living. So, instead of being offering suicide prevention we're being provided assistance to kill ourselves. It is discriminatory, hypocritical, immoral and unethical. We want choice and control over our lives, not a fast track toward death,” said Jonathan Marchand, who is a member of the Ending-of-Life Ethics Committee.

"We're devalued to the extent that we're mostly invisible in Canadian society,” Marchand explained. “This bill will only further normalize the ableism we're having to contend with every day by enshrining it into law."

The Senate will continue to examine the proposed expansion of Canada’s MAiD law next week. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities is calling on Senators to hold the government accountable to its commitments under International Law, and send Bill C-7 back to Parliament with substantive amendments in line with Canada’s commitments under the CRPD.


Dr. Heidi Janz                                 Jonathan Marchand
hjanz@ualberta.ca                          Tel: 418-627-3757

About CCD
CCD is a national human rights organization of people with disabilities working for an inclusive and accessible Canada.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is a social justice organization of people with all disabilities that champions the voices of people with disabilities, advocating an inclusive and accessible Canada, where people with disabilities have full realization of their human rights, as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) unites advocacy organizations of people with disabilities to defend and extend human rights for persons with disabilities through public education, advocacy, intervention in litigation, research, consultation and partnerships.  CCD amplifies the expertise of our partners by acting as a convening body and consensus builder.