**This letter was sent to Jim Reiter (Minister of Health) and Dr. Susan Shaw (Chief Medical Officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority) on April 7, 2020.**
Hon. Jim Reiter & Dr. Susan Shaw:
On behalf of the approximately 23,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities in Saskatchewan, we want to first thank you for all that you’re doing to protect the citizens of our province during this time. By taking decisive action early, we will all help flatten the COVID-19 epidemiological curve and save lives. We are, however, very concerned about the people and families we support and want to ensure that the Government of Saskatchewan takes appropriate actions to protect those with intellectual disabilities as we move through this crisis.
Specifically, we would ask that you consider the following:
Protect Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities: While we are grateful to all of the healthcare workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic, we also have to acknowledge that some of the people we support have faced discrimination and unfair treatment by the healthcare system in the past. As you move forward with preparing Saskatchewan’s critical care guidelines, we ask that you do not list intellectual or developmental disabilities as criteria that could be used to deny lifesaving care in a pandemic. The presence of an intellectual or developmental disability alone is not a sufficient reason for the denial of care, and should not be considered a chronic health issue, but rather a characteristic of an individual whose rights are equal to all other people who present themselves for care in the health system.
Statement for Those with Disabilities: The government has been doing an incredible job communicating with the public regarding updates on COVID-19 case numbers as well as the daily actions that are being taken to keep us safe. As we move forward through this crisis, we ask that the government issue a statement from the Saskatchewan Heath Authority affirming the equal rights of persons with disabilities to available medical treatment and care in circumstances of pandemic triage.
By implementing these considerations, we feel that the Government of Saskatchewan will be able to better serve persons with intellectual disabilities while also keeping them informed, reassured, and calm.
In closing, we’d also like to assure you that Inclusion Saskatchewan stands with the Government of Saskatchewan as well as all people with intellectual disabilities within this province. Our organization has prepared for over 65 years for this crisis and is ready to support you and the people of this province in any way that we can.