This guidebook is a resource listing of many supports, programs, and services available in Newfoundland and Labrador Metro Region for people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and others who need help planning for their future. Developed in partnership by Inclusion Canada Newfoundland and Labrador supported through the nation Ready Willing and Able (RWA) project.
Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit: In effect since 1999, this is a provincial tax credit for families whose income is less than $25,467 and have children under 18 years of age. This credit helps approximately 10,000 low income families in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Newfoundland and Labrador Income Support provides financial benefits and other services to eligible low-income people to assist in meeting daily living expenses.
Vulnerable Persons Standard
The Vulnerable Persons Standard was formulated by taking insights and inputs from over 40 senior advisors from fields like law, medicine, advocacy and ethics for the people that are disabled. We also took advice from around 30 health and community organisations. Our aim is to convince parliamentarians to ensure that this standard’s safeguards are included in the federal legislations concerning physician-assisted death. This standard is based on the best available data about the dangers presented to vulnerable people in areas where physician-assisted death is allowed. Our belief is that it will address the urgent concerns of tens of thousands of Canadians actively involved in the disability movement, as well as the millions of Canadians who are concerned about the introduction of physician-assisted death. With the Vulnerable Persons Standard, we can ensure that everyone has equal access to it.
We feel that these safeguards are essential because everyone asking for a physician-assisted death should be able to do so without putting any other vulnerable Canadian at risk. We continue to believe that physician-assisted death should be made available only in conjunction with a significant commitment to improve palliative care and adequate mental health services across Canada.
Click here for more information and frequently asked questions about the Vulnerable Persons Standard.
About the Vulnerable Persons Standard
The VPS represents a consensus position across a diverse constituency of Canadian organizations, including medical, faith-based, disability and other advocacy perspectives. The VPS brings together people who support physician-assisted death but appreciate the need for safeguards, along with those who oppose physician-assisted death, but appreciate the need to reduce its potential harm. In the context of a highly divisive social policy debate, the VPS points to a strong ‘overlapping consensus’ among growing numbers of Canadians. The VPS offers a set of five key safeguards that strike the necessary balance in providing access to physician-assisted death without jeopardizing the lives of vulnerable persons.
Five Key Safeguards
Equal Protection for Vulnerable Persons
The practice of physician-assisted death in Canada must be carefully regulated and monitored. This will require priority attention to meeting the palliative care and home support needs of all Canadians who suffer. It will also require a commitment to funding and public reporting of independent research to identify any direct or indirect impact on vulnerable persons.
Physician-assisted death should only be available to adults who are at the end of life and who have “advanced weakening capacities with no chance of improvement”. This requirement is entirely consistent with the Supreme Court decision in Carter. It is also, notably, the requirement implemented in Québec law after several years of extensive public consultation.
Voluntary and Capable Consent
Adults who request a physician-assisted death must have the capacity to make such a decision, must be fully informed and be acting completely voluntarily. Physicians must ensure that patients are supported to access any alternate supports or treatments that might ease their suffering and that they receive whatever interpretation and communication support they require to participate in these profoundly important conversations. Adults with conditions like dementia that impair mental capacity cannot receive physician-assisted death on the basis of an advanced directive.
Assessment of Suffering and Vulnerability
It is critical to understand the nature of a person’s suffering in order to support their consideration of a physician-assisted death. When a person is motivated by factors such as grief, loneliness, shame or a lack of needed supports, safeguards must ensure that healthcare providers attempt to ease such suffering by means other than physician-assisted death.
Permitting any physician to perform an assisted death requires a legal decision, one that takes into account relevant medical evaluations and ensures that all safeguards have been respected. Recent experience at the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench confirms that these decisions can be made very quickly and in a way that respects a person’s dignity and privacy. When decisions are made with this kind of formality and independence, Canada’s system for physician-assisted death will serve as a model for transparency, consistency, and equity.
Canadians have communicated their desire for an approach to physician-assisted death that is humane and carefully considered.
The Supreme Court has directed that Parliament must balance the right to choose an assisted death with the right of vulnerable persons to be protected from harm.
The Vulnerable Persons Standard meets these requirements. It does so by:
Limiting physician-assisted death to adults who are at the end of life and capable of giving informed consent;
Ensuring that physician-assisted death is never our response to social or psychosocial suffering;
Separating the evaluative, assessment and support roles of physicians from the adjudicative role of independent legal decision makers;
Requiring transparency, consistency and accountability as we move to introduce physician-assisted death; and
Respecting both the spirit and the letter of the Carter decision.