Maggie is a bubbly teenager with physical and intellectual disabilities. Growing up, her family prioritized her independence and agency. Now, a policy from the Ontario Ministry of Health may change that.
The Ontario Ministry of Health has told Maggie’s parents that she will lose some of the funding she currently receives unless she has a guardian of property. Guardianship, through which a court would appoint someone to permanently manage Maggie’s property and finances, is a nonstarter for Maggie’s parents, who consider it antithetical to how they have raised their daughter.
“Families have been given the message: you either apply for guardianship or you lose the funding.” said Betty Daley, president of Family Alliance Ontario.
Brendon Pooran, who has been hired by Maggie’s family, said requiring guardianship in this way is contrary to human rights law, both domestic and international. Ontario’s law governing guardianship — the Substitute Decisions Act — states that the court should not appoint a guardian if the need for decision-making can be met by a “less restrictive” alternative. Pooran argues there are many such alternatives in Maggie’s case.
He also pointed to Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, ratified by Canada in 2010, which states, in part, that people with disabilities are equal before the law and that they have an equal right to control their own financial affairs.
Pooran said the province needs to update its policies to bring them in line with their human rights obligations.