Webcast archive: Review of Canadian disability legislation – PEI

This week, we look at provincial disability rights laws in PEI.

In this episode of Euthanasia & Disability, Amy Hasbrouck, Christian Debray, and Taylor Hyatt discuss:

  • Review of Canadian disability legislation: PEI
  • Ontario MPP introduces palliative care bill

Please note that this text is only a script and that our webcast contains additional commentary.


  • Welcome back to our analysis of accessibility legislation in Canada’s provinces. Today, we’re looking at Prince Edward Island. Like most other provinces, PEI doesn’t have a comprehensive disability rights law. Instead, there is a “patchwork” of government programs and services.
  • The Human Rights Act prevents discrimination based on disability, among other factors like sexual orientation or age.  But as we’ve noted before, it takes more than adding “disability” to the list of prohibited discrimination to remove physical, program and attitudinal barriers.
  • Financial support is available under the Social Assistance Program to people who are unemployed and those who are unable to work due a disability. Besides a small amount of income for basic living costs, it helps pay for medications, basic dental care, glasses, and funeral costs. A separate Disability Support Program provides things like respite care, community living supports, mobility devices and other “technology.”
  • Provincial home care services are available for anyone who:
    • is in need of “support to continue living safely at home,”
    • is home from the hospital and recovering from surgery or another medical condition, or
    • has “an ongoing health issue” needing more care than they and their loved ones can manage
  • Here is a list of all the services offered under the Home Care program:
    • Nursing care – such as health monitoring, IV therapy, injections, wound care and teaching people how to care for their injuries;
    • Personal home support – for assistance with daily activities such as bathing and dressing;
    • Palliative care;
    • Social work – individual and family counseling for illness, loss, or end-of-life issues;
    • Dietitian services;
    • Physiotherapy;
    • Occupational therapy;
    • Referrals to Adult Protection in cases of abuse or neglect;
    • Assessment for nursing home admission;
    • Day programs for seniors – including respite care.
  • ·The Barrier-Free Design Regulations in the Provincial Building Code Act require that entrances, exits, and washrooms of new and renovated buildings be accessible to people with sensory and physical disabilities. Other than the placement of a toilet paper dispenser in relation to a toilet and grab bar, nothing specific is spelled out in the code. There are three types of exemptions to the regulations:
    • an existing building which is not barrier-free;
    • construction which began before the accessibility regulations came into force (in 2004); or
    • an addition to an existing building with barriers, that is “incidental” or meant to increase the size of a room.
  • The Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Act allows the government to provide grants and loans for:
    • diagnosis, counselling, training, and transportation;
    • “tools, books … (and) equipment” for rehabilitation
    • dental care;
    • drugs, medical and surgical supplies, and prosthetics;
    • foster care, and other forms of substitute care;


  • Ontario MPP Sam Oosterhoff introduced a bill to improve access to palliative care in Ontario – the Compassionate Care Act – On November 27, 2017.
  • The bill requires the Ontario government to develop a “provincial framework on hospice [and] palliative care” provided in “hospitals, home care, long-term care homes and hospices.” This framework will:
    • define what hospice/palliative care is;
    • identify “the…training and education needs of health care providers as well as other caregivers;”
    • identify (ways) to support hospice/palliative care providers;
    • promote research and the collection of data on hospice / palliative care;
    • identify measures to facilitate consistent access to hospice/palliative care across Ontario; and
    • take into consideration existing hospice / palliative care frameworks, strategies and best practices.
  • The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care will develop the framework “in consultation with hospice palliative care providers, any other affected ministries, the federal government and …entities that the Minister considers appropriate.” The consultations will begin within six months after the Act comes into effect.
  • The Health Minister will prepare a report for the Ontario legislature on the new framework one year after the Act takes effect.  It will be published on the Ontario government’s website ten days after being given to the legislature.
  • Within five years after the report is submitted, another report on “the state of hospice palliative care in Ontario” will be given to the legislature. It will also be published on the government’s website.
  • The law is long on generalities and short on specifics.  We don’t know anything about the framework yet…we’ll have to wait and see over the next year or so.
  • Another problem with the bill is its lack of clarity. There are repeated references to “hospice palliative care” – without an “and” – as if they are the same thing.
  • The MPPs voted on the bill’s second reading yesterday. It passed with a unanimous vote, and will now go on to a committee hearing and third reading. Mr. Oosterhoff wants it to become law before the next election.
  • If you want to read the bill and learn more about it, you can find it at http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=5415&detailPage=bills_detail_the_bill. The bill is available in both English and French.
  • A similar bill proposed by federal MP Marilyn Gladu in 2016 will become law soon. It received unanimous approval by the Senate last week, and royal assent on December 12. Gladu told the Blackburn News that the Minister of Health will meet with provincial officials within the next six months to develop a federal framework for palliative care. That plan will come into effect a year after the meetings. According to the newspaper, “Gladu says the bill has been publicly endorsed by over 100 organizations including the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association, and Cancer Society and Kidney Foundation.”