The right to legal capacity is essential to personal well-being, social inclusion, and enjoyment of human rights because it recognizes a person’s right to exercise control over their own personal, health care, and property/financial decisions. The right to legal capacity is generally recognized to have two components – the capacity to have rights and the capacity to act or to have power over one’s personal, property and health care decisions. Canadians with intellectual, cognitive and psychosocial disabilities are extremely vulnerable to having their legal capacity restricted or removed all together. Across the country, formal or informal reliance on substitute decision making arrangements and guardianship remain far too commonplace. Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes that all persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others; it also secures the right to use support to exercise legal capacity.

The CRPD, Canada’s reservation on Article 12, and the uneven access and recognition of the use of supported decision making across the country calls for ongoing dialogue and interpretation, in order to achieve a consistent and up‐to‐date legal framework at all jurisdictional levels. What would it take for a legal framework that establishes the validity of supported decision making, and incorporates the human rights principles of accommodation and respect for differences among people? This year’s forum will explore that question, with particular focus on provincial-territorial promising practice, health consent, and finance law.

The purpose of this Policy Forum is to gain understanding about Canada’s obligations under Article 12 of UN CRPD; learn about how supported decision making is being implemented in practice in jurisdictions across Canada; identify issues and barriers to the realization of legal capacity for people with an intellectual disability within existing systems (e.g. health, banking, income tax, etc.); and, explore promising directions and potential solutions in dismantling these barriers.

Format: As with previous Annual Policy Forums hosted by CACL and People First of Canada, the format will include a series of panels and group discussion. Panels are designed to include a perspective of lived experience of people with intellectual disabilities and families, research, and policy expertise – both from government and community perspectives.

Panel 1: Legal Capacity Challenges – Self-Advocate and Family Perspectives

According to Canada’s response to the ‘List of Issues’ from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, over 47,000 Canadians with disabilities are not able to fully exercise their legal capacity in personal, property and health care decisions because they have been placed under some form of guardianship or substitute decision making. We know many more experience informal restrictions on their right to make their own decisions, and in many instances, people do not have the supports they need to exercise legal capacity.

Panel 2: National Scope – Demographics and Jurisdictional Scan

This session will review scope of the issue, the right to legal capacity in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and highlight provincial/territorial level laws and policies regulating exercise of legal capacity and supported decision making.

Panel 3: Financial Decisions

Provisions at the federal level which regulate the right to legal capacity will be reviewed, including in the Income Tax Act and the Bank Act. Issues and options to promote the right to legal capacity and supported decision making at the federal level will be examined.

Panel 4: Healthcare & Personal Life Decisions

In this session we explore law and policies for exercising legal capacity in health care and personal decision making, and look at promising options for reform in the Canadian context.

Additional Information: Forum begins promptly at 8:30am. Lunch and refreshments are included in the registration fee. The forum will be held in English; slide presentations will be displayed in both English and French where available.

Registration fee is waived for persons with an intellectual disability, please contact the organizer to arrange. Please notify the organizer if you have any food/environmental allergies; we will do our best to accommodate but unfortunately cannot guarantee an event free from allergens.

Register here