People experiencing Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), a recognized disability, have been working for decades to find safe housing across Canada. Now is the time to get together to fulfill this need.
A woman with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) who lived in unsuitable housing which made it inaccessible for her disability, has lost her life through medical assistance in dying (MAiD), because accessible healthy housing was found too late for her. (Accessible, healthy housing for the disability of MCS is free of smoke, fragrances and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from many commonly used products. Exposure to these substances can cause multiple symptoms in multiple body systems. Continuous exposures cause increased disability.) She and her doctors spent years contacting governments, looking for healthy housing, and pursuing accommodations (least-toxic options for all applications) for her disability, but they could not find accessible AND affordable housing. All she needed to continue living was accessible housing. Unfortunately, rather than providing her with safe, appropriate shelter, a basic human need, she was instead cleared for death. This sounds like an execution. This is our Canada.
This is not an isolated incident; several other instances of MAiD have been brought to our attention for the same reason: Lack of Housing. The solution to a housing crisis for people experiencing MCS cannot and should not be state-sanctioned death. Safe affordable housing would have prevented these lives from being lost, and must be created to stop additional deaths. MAiD cannot be used as the elimination of disabled people instead of providing for a social need.
This situation should NEVER have happened and should NEVER happen again. Disabled people across Canada deserve to have their needs met and to thrive, so they can help Canada become a vibrant and inclusive country which will benefit everyone. No one should experience unsafe living conditions or homelessness especially due to unsuitable chemical-laden environments.
Below you can find an example of a letter that you can send to the appropriate representatives about this issue. We have also provided the contact information of these officials. All you have to do is copy and paste the emails, and email addresses into your email, and send!
Who you can send it to:
- Search for your: Provincial premier, housing minister, and disability rights ministers
- Prime Minister: Justin Trudeau: Justin.Trudeau@parl.gc.ca
- Carla Qualtrough, Federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion: email@example.com
- Ahmed Hussen, Federal Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion: firstname.lastname@example.org
- David Lametti, Federal Minister of Justice: email@example.com
The Sample Letter:
Good Morning/ Good Afternoon:
A woman with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) who lived in unsuitable housing, which made it inaccessible for her disability, recently lost her life through medical assistance in dying (MAiD), because accessible healthy housing could not be found for her in time. (Accessible, healthy housing for the disability of MCS is free of smoke, fragrances and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from many commonly used products. Exposure to these substances can cause multiple symptoms in multiple body systems. Continuous exposures cause increased disability). Unremitting exposures to chemicals, fragranced products and smoke from neighbours, caused continuous symptoms of MCS and led to a deterioration of her health. In order to improve her health, and stop these continuous symptoms all she needed was accessible healthy housing. Despite attempts to gain accommodation from her landlord and neighbors, they rejected or inadequately accommodated these requests, sometimes verbally abusing her and blaming her for her disability. She spent years contacting governments for help, looking for safe housing, and pursuing accommodations, but could not find accessible AND affordable housing. Rather than being provided with safe shelter, a basic human need, she was instead cleared for death through MAiD. This sounds like an execution. I am calling on you to act immediately to stop this from ever happening again by taking immediate action to find and create accessible and affordable housing for this disabled population so that more people with this condition will not continue to lose their lives.
MCS is a recognized disability by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act, with 1,130,800 people in Canada diagnosed with MCS (Statistics Canada, 2020). The prevalence of this disability is increasing (Statistics Canada 2000 – 2020). Sensitization to chemicals in commonly used products subsequently provoke symptoms in multiple body systems. This is debilitating and often leads to unemployment and severe loss of quality of life. To remain symptom-free and improve their health, people with MCS need least toxic solutions for all aspects of everyday living.
I am asking you to act immediately to create accessible and affordable housing for people experiencing MCS. The Accessibility Act promises barrier-free access to full and equal participation in society, yet people with MCS are denied accommodation to remove barriers or to support them from being safe in their own homes. Without action being taken, more people will continue to suffer, as a direct result of the government’s failure to act on this crisis. Healthy housing is a medical necessity for people experiencing MCS. The lack of healthy housing for this community was identified as a need in the Ontario Task Force Report on Environmental Health (2018). Yet, to date, no one is listening.
Let this not be passed up as a jurisdictional issue with everyone washing their hands of this urgent problem and passing the buck. We pay our taxes both provincially and federally. It is time you all got together and had a conversation in order to come up with an acceptable solution to a growing and desperate need, while the prevalence of this disability continues to increase (Statistics Canada 2000 – 2020). In the spirit of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’, involve the MCS groups and people with lived experience in this process.
This woman is not the only person who faces this housing crisis for people with MCS, and she will not be the last. This crisis should never have happened and should never happen again. People with all disabilities and people with MCS are important and valuable members of our communities and this situation is a disgrace that everyone across Canada should be ashamed of. Every person deserves appropriate accommodations, and accessible housing. The solution for this housing crisis for MCS, IS NOT Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).
I am calling for:
1. The government to find and build immediate accessible, affordable housing for people with MCS;
2. Immediate implementation of accessible healthcare policies including fragrance free, no idling, least toxic product use in all healthcare facilities;
3. Immediate action for education on MCS in all learning institutions and especially medical schools;
4. Immediate awareness and education to all support systems including law enforcement, social workers, medical personnel;
5. Fund research on MCS.
The housing that will address this crisis must:
• Be independent living;
• Be free of smoke (wood burning, tobacco, marijuana, vaping), perfumes/fragrances, chemicals from cleaning and laundry including other harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and mould;
• Use only least-toxic solutions for all applications;
• New construction must have only least-toxic materials, and be built in such a way as to constantly off-gas VOCs;
• Not be heated by wood, propane or oil;
• Not be located in a polluted area. It must be away from Industry, farming, golf courses, smoke, and heavy traffic.
If you need more information on how you can build this housing, please contact the Environmental Health Association of Canada at 514 332 4320.
Your action will determine whether or not more people continue to die by MAiD as a direct result of being neglected due to their disability. I request a response from you on your actions going forward in this regard, and I look forward to your swift action to stop this senseless loss of life, and prevent others from suffering due to lack of action and lack of housing.