Ontario Ministry of Health reverses course on guardianship requirement for disabled woman
The Ontario Division of Health and Long-Term Care recently reversed its earlier decision to remove a requirement for a guardian when a disabled person receives long-term care. A decision issued yesterday (May 30) states that the requirement for a guardian only applies in cases where the person receiving long-term care is diagnosed with dementia or who has a severe form of autism.
The Division’s reversal came after a series of legal challenges mounted by the Family Foundation of Upper Canada against the policy.
“The new policy makes Ontario one of only seven countries in the world that still require a guardian for people with autism when they receive long-term care,” said Family Foundation executive director Catherine Murphy. “The public interest law does not require anyone to be a guardian. It is the guardian’s responsibility to monitor a person’s safety and freedom in order to make a best judgment about whether their loved one can receive long-term care.”
The Ontario Division of Health and Long-Term Care (DOHLTC) reversed its position on guardianship requirements for people with autism and other disabilities in an opinion issued May 27, 2018. In the decision, DOHLTC said that the Family Foundation had failed to provide “a credible justification or substantiating evidence” for its claim that requiring a guardian when someone aged 18 or older has a disability or is diagnosed with dementia violates international law.
The Family Foundation’s petition to remove the requirement for a guardian was based on the argument that, despite a lack of clear legal authority, the requirement is consistent with international standards. The Family Foundation argued that international law is based on the principle of the best interests of the person, and that “the best interest of the person” must be achieved when people take care of themselves.
“The right of a person to receive long-term care, as defined by the Canadian Human Rights Act, does not include a right to a guardian,” the Division wrote in its decision. “However, a person’s legal responsibility for the safety and protection of that person and the person’s entitlement to receive services does require