The Canadian Disability Rights Movement has long defended the equal value of all people and all lives. The core principles of Lives Worthy of Dignity can therefore be traced through the movement’s history:

In 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteed the equality rights of people with disabilities. In its draft form, the Charter did not include disability as a reason for protection against discrimination. Advocates had to push hard for it to be added.



In 1986, in the Eve case, the Supreme Court decided that people with disabilities could not be sterilized without their consent in Canada. Did you know that eugenics was once common practice in Canada? In Alberta alone, between 1929 and 1972, 2822 people were forcibly sterilized.

In 1993, 12-year-old Tracy Latimer was murdered by her father. Robert Latimer’s trial made its way to the Supreme Court, where, in 2001, judges confirmed that Latimer had committed murder, and that he had options. Robert Latimer chose death when he could have chosen care. He made that choice for Tracy. Tracy’s death demonstrates the vulnerability that people with disabilities can face when their lives are seen as being worse than death.



In 2003, the province of British Columbia offered a formal apology to victims of institutionalization. Ontario followed suit in 2013. Institutions have often been hubs of abuse and neglect for people with disabilities across Canada.
In 2010, Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD outlines that people with disabilities have a right to life, support services and health.



In 2015, in the Carter Case, the Supreme Court decided that a complete ban on assisted suicide was unconstitutional. For the first time in Canadian history, Medical Assistance in Dying would be legal. Mindful about how negative stereotypes could influence MAiD decisions, people with disabilities and their allies began to advocate for safeguards and monitoring.


In 2020, during a global pandemic that has exposed how life with a disability is (de)valued in Canada, Parliament is preparing to debate Bill C-7. Bill C-7 would allow for people with disabilities who are not nearing death to die with medical assistance because they are suffering.