Disability Issues Present Challenges For Canadian Courts
May 10, 2004
EDMONTON, ALBERTA--Canada's top judge said Thursday that disability issues present the most pressing challenges for the courts.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin said judges must balance the equal rights of persons who have disabilities with the amount of assistance society can reasonably be expected to provide them.
The Chief Justice made her comments while in Edmonton for the high court's annual retreat.
She said that Canada broke new ground with its 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which provided for protecting people with disabilities against discrimination.
The Charter is "a moral compass to our nation", she said, leading to the legal perspective that governments and businesses must make special accommodations as long as they don't create "undue" hardship.
In the coming weeks, the high court is expected to address a number of disability cases, including one involving parents of children with autism who are challenging British Columbia's refusal to pay for expensive therapies.