Health Promotion Newsletter Issue No.24

19 May

April showers bring Mayflowers! Finally spring is here, are you ready to soak up the sun and enjoy wearing fewer layers?

There has been an absence of my newsletter of late as I have been busy pursuing sponsorship for the Health Promotion Program in 2015. I must say that this year will be a challenging year for sponsorship due to the restructuring of the distribution of funding our sponsorship programs. However, I can reassure you that the Health Promotion Program will continue to deliver top notch presenters and programs to you. At the same time, I am pleased to report that workshop attendance remains stable and well attended thanks to all of you who continue to support our program.

Whilst the ACAS overall planning and services survey of February 2015 asked for your input on future Health Promotion topics for our workshops, please understand that we have to plan our workshop schedule a year in advance so your suggestions may take some time to come up. Having said that, please keep your suggestions coming on topics you would like to see covered as we are always delighted to hear from our clients.

  • We have an upcoming workshop on May 08, 2015 by Dr. Stephanie Nixon on the topic of HIV and Access of Rehabilitation. Please come out and joins us for this interactive and engaging workshop.
  • Get your pink on! Our Pink pre pride party will be on Sunday, June 21, 2015. Please look for the invitation and be daring!
  • May 23, 2015 ACAS and ASAAP will be hosting an Ontario Positive Asian Caucus. I encourage you all to sign up to attend this event!
  • Thanks to Trillium College once again for providing our outreach massage. It will begin in May and to the beginning of August. Without their continuous generosity, we would not be able to benefit from their wonderful services.

Recently I found a  HALCO. newsletter article on  Life and Death with Medical choice. I found it very interesting and would therefore like to share it with you. Please see below.

Kenneth Poon – Health Promotion Worker

download healthnews_issue24 (.pdf file)

 – HALCO provides free legal services for people living with HIV in Ontario –

HALCO news Spring 2015

The Supreme Court decides life, and death, with medical choice

(adapted, with permission, from the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network)

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that people living in Canada have the constitutional right to medical assistance in dying. Carter v. Canada (Carter) was a landmark decision that was a long time in the making.

We applaud this historic decision. And we celebrate the many individuals and organizations that came together to help make it happen. HALCO is proud to be among them as a joint intervener with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (Legal Network).

Carter is about a very difficult and sometimes divisive issue. This article will briefly explain the law, why we made the decision to intervene, and what the Supreme Court ruling means.

The law: before and after

In Carter v. Canada, two specific parts of the Criminal Code of Canada were at issue. Section 14 says that nobody can consent to death inflicted upon them, and section 241(b) says that anyone who assists a person in committing suicide commits a criminal offence. Together, these two sections make it a crime to assist someone in dying in a manner and a time of their choosing.

The Supreme Court decision struck down these sections of the Criminal Code because the sections violate section 7 (the right to life, liberty and security of the person) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter). The Supreme Court found that the sections of the Criminal Code deprive people of their section 7 rights by denying fundamental life choices to those living with serious health conditions that cause enduring and intolerable suffering. The decision can be viewed here.

Why did we intervene?

The issue before the court was specifically about the right to receive assistance, if needed, in controlling the time and manner of death. The larger principle at stake is that the law must respect and protect autonomy in all medical decision-making throughout a person’s life. This principle has always been central to the HIV movement.

We argued that the law regarding medical decision-making applies to everyone. It must not be determined by the beliefs of religious groups in ways that deny
other people’s autonomy, strip them of dignity, and condemn them to pain and suffering they may choose to avoid. Click to view our written argument.

What happens now?

The Court gave the federal government 12 months to respond to the decision, so the former law remains in place for now. The government could enact new criminal legislation (which would have to comply with the Charter), or it could remove the sections of the Criminal Code so that the criminal law would not apply to this type of health-care decision-making.

We maintain that medical choice throughout life, and not just at life’s end, is important. Instead of criminalizing assisted dying, a society committed to human rights  should enhance the autonomy of all Canadians, including those living with disabilities, by scaling up access to quality health care and social services, as well as end-of-life care.

The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed dignity and autonomy. It is a welcome decision and we are pleased to have played a part in it.

download healthnews_issue24 (.pdf file)

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