In February of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada made a landmark ruling striking down the Criminal Code’s prohibition on doctor assisted dying, effective February 2016. In order to allow Parliament to enact new legislation governing when and under what circumstances an individual may obtain the assistance of a doctor to die with greater control and dignity, the Supreme Court delayed enforcement of its ruling for a year. Public polls in Canada have indicated that a majority of citizens want laws that enable greater control over dying with the assistance of medical professionals.
Six months after this far-reaching decision, the Harper government has made no real effort to engage the provinces, medical professionals or Canadians to determine under what circumstances we will allow an individuals to make the incredibly personal and difficult decision to end an incurable disease or chronic suffering and choose, with the help of their family, the conditions and timing of death.
GOVERNMENT FINALLY DOES RIGHT THING ON PDD SAFETY REVIEW
CALGARY, AB, September 18, 2015: Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann joined Alberta’s non-profit organizations in celebrating an announcement that the government will hit the pause button on a government safety review that risked forcing many persons with developmental disabilities out of their homes.
“I’m pleased the government has finally done the right thing and will review this process to ensure that we strike the right balance on this issue,” says Swann. “For Alberta Liberals, this has always been about ensuring this process meets the real needs of disabled individuals.”
Swann had previously called on the government to review its safety review process after non-profit organizations raised alarm bells that the high cost of the safety inspections and required renovations would force disabled individuals out of their homes.
“Some of Alberta’s most vulnerable individuals have successfully stood up and asked that this government listen to their concerns and meet their needs,” says Swann. “That is indeed a victory. Now let’s all get to work on creating a better process to serve the needs of this community.”
EDMONTON SCHOOL BOARD MUST RESPECT LAW WITH TRANSGENDER POLICY
September 16, 2015: Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann welcomed comments today by Education Minister David Eggen calling on the Edmonton Catholic School Board to produce an inclusivity policy to protect Transgender students.
“I am grateful that the minister has gone on record on this important issue of ensuring respectful and inclusive schools,” says Swann. “The school board has a duty under law to provide an inclusive and safe environment for these students, regardless of gender identity or gender expression.”
Last night the trustees of the Edmonton Catholic School Board deferred a policy on inclusivity arising out of a request by a transgender elementary student to use the girls’ washroom. The deferral followed a long and often tense discussion surrounding the needs of transgender students and the nature of discrimination.
Under section 45.1(1) of the School Act boards have a “responsibility to ensure that each student … is provided with a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity”.
Swann added that this incident also highlights the need to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act.
“At last night’s board meeting there was a drawn out discussion about whether what this young girl had gone through even constituted discrimination,” noted Swann. “Clearly it did.
“What is needed is an explicit prohibition on discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. I hope the government will act on that as well.”