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Recommendations for the Government of Canada Relating to COVID and People with Disabilities

It is imperative that the Government of Canada urgently address the unique vulnerabilities of people with disabilities and their families during the COVID-19 crisis. People with disabilities represent 22% of the Canadian population. Many are at extreme risk and require additional support to ensure their health and safety at this time.

Some people with disabilities are vulnerable to COVID-19 because of the nature of their disability and related health challenges. Many others are at risk because of the measures put in place in response to COVID-19 which require people with disabilities and their families to distance themselves from their communities and support systems and to invest funds up front for supplies needed to maintain wellbeing during an extended period of isolation.

If Canada’s healthcare system becomes overburdened by COVID-19, most triaging guidelines will result in people with disabilities being denied care, triaged out of care solely on the basis of having a disability. This was the case during the SARS and H1N1 pandemics and we have no reason to believe that guidelines have changed. Canadians with disabilities may be refused ventilators or life support in a moment of crisis because they have a disability. This discriminatory policy is of great concern.

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