Human Rights

Medically assisted death in Canada: Reflections on the process

January 31st, 2019 by Celia Chandler

Celia Chandler with her partner Jack Sikorski in 2018. Photo: Kate O’Connor/Sweetheart Empire

Iler Campbell’s Pro Bono column for rabble.ca (where this article was first published in three parts) is no stranger to the issue of medical assistance in death (MAID). We have contributed to the discussion a number of times in the last four years.

What is new is that I can now provide a firsthand account of a medically assisted death. At 6 p.m. on Monday, November 19, 2018, surrounded by his closest family, my husband, Jack Sikorski, consented to a medically assisted death. Jack’s cancer had progressed and his quality of life was greatly diminished; he was grateful for the choice to prevent further suffering and die on his own terms, as he had lived. And I am profoundly grateful, too.

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Ontario rollbacks to sex-ed curriculum prompt legal challenges

December 20th, 2018 by Safia Lakhani

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Though the election was only six months ago, the array of changes (or “rollbacks”) ushered in by the Ford regime is dizzying: from backtracking on the cap-and-trade program to cancelling the basic income pilot project, the government has wasted little time in cracking down on the initiatives undertaken by its predecessor. The government’s announcement in July 2018 that the province would be scrapping the modernized sexual education curriculum developed by the Liberal government in 2015 and returning to the 1998 curriculum pending further consultations falls squarely in line with this trend.

The government’s decision to revert back to the 1998 curriculum has prompted considerable backlash from educators, parents, and students, and has also prompted four separate legal challenges.

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The ‘right’ to cannabis in housing

October 25th, 2018 by Claudia Pedrero

This article was first published on rabble.ca

With the arrival of legal cannabis last week, Canadians are now free to consume and — in some provinces — cultivate cannabis at home. This new freedom has come with many questions around the extent to which governments and property owners can restrict consumption. Does cannabis legalization mean that people have a protected right to smoke and grow cannabis? What about rules that seek to limit this freedom?

These questions cropped up in human rights cases across the country once medical cannabis became legal. With the legalization of cannabis, it is worth looking at how restrictions on recreational cannabis interact with the obligations of service providers such as landlords to accommodate medical cannabis users.

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Striking a Balance: The Case of the Guide Dog and the Taxicab

October 3rd, 2018 by Brynn Leger

What do you do when human rights of one person compete with another’s? Employers, housing providers, and other public service providers have a duty to accommodate those with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code). Sometimes, however, these obligations lead to conflict between multiple people in need of accommodation. An example of this that has been felt by housing providers and employers is the tension between persons with service animals and other persons with allergies. Some people in need of accommodation rely on service animals to assist them. But people suffering from allergies to dogs can’t be expected to live and work in an environment that does not accommodate their needs. How does an employer or a housing provider address these competing obligations to accommodate these persons in a fair manner that complies with the Code? Read the rest of this entry

Police technology vs. civil liberties — science fiction or current reality?

September 27th, 2018 by Michael Hackl

I enjoy reading science fiction, especially when it considers humanity’s struggle to deal with new technologies. Often these stories present a cautionary tale about how new technologies can be misused to oppress people. This idea of science fiction as cautionary tales was summed up by author Ray Bradbury, who wrote: “The function of science fiction is not only to predict the future, but to prevent it.”

One of my favourite science fiction writers is Philip K. Dick, who wrote a number of these cautionary tales. One of them, “The Minority Report” (which you may know instead as a Tom Cruise movie — the short story is better) presented a future where police did not investigate crimes that had occurred; instead, the “PreCrime” unit stops crimes before they occur, based on predictions from precognitive mutants.

Reality imitates fiction

So imagine my surprise when I came upon an article discussing police use of a computer program called PredPol (short for predictive policing) to identify areas that are more likely to experience crimes and to direct police resources to those areas. Read the rest of this entry

Legalization of Cannabis: Important Considerations for Housing Providers & Employers

September 14th, 2018 by Safia Lakhani

With the impending legalization of cannabis, we have received requests from a number of housing providers to assist in developing policies that deal with the use and growth of cannabis in units. We have also received requests from employers around policies that prohibit the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace. While policies should be crafted to suit a particular workplace or residence, below are a few considerations that employers and housing providers should bear in mind when creating rules around cannabis: Read the rest of this entry