Ontario says it scrapped the mandatory medical requirement

Ontario Ministry of Health reverses course on guardianship requirement for disabled woman

TORONTO, ON – The province has reversed course on the controversial “guardianship” requirement for disabled women to gain access to life-sustaining medical devices and services like feeding tubes.

The province announced Wednesday that a government-appointed medical review panel had decided to scrap the requirement, saying it had no legal basis.

“The only question on the panel’s mind, as we wrote out on this issue, is whether the [Ontario Human Rights Commission] had exceeded its powers,” said Ministry of Health spokesperson Andrea Booth in an emailed statement. “In our view, the commission did not.”

The decision to scrap the rule was welcomed by several Canadian provinces, including Ontario and Nova Scotia, which have long-standing policies that require women to secure the consent of a guardian to access life-sustaining medical equipment that is not medically indicated.

The Canadian Press reports that the decision was also welcomed by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, which represents doctors.

The decision came after a meeting between health workers and their federal and provincial counterparts.

According to the Toronto Star, the changes could save the lives of more than 250 women a year.

In a news release issued Friday, the Ontario government said the government’s decision to stop enforcing the requirement came after a review of the legislation by two federal experts.

“It was clear after this review that the provisions of the legislation were being used for purposes inconsistent with the government’s policies,” said Dr. Barbara McInnes, the province’s deputy medical minister.

“It was also clear that we needed more information from the federal government.”

McInnes also acknowledged “the challenges” the province will face in enforcing the law and said the decision was the latest step in the government’s strategy to ensure women who rely on life-

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