CCD Concurs: Add Anti-Racism Pillar to Canada Health Act

Media Release

For Immediate Release | November 13, 2020

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national human rights organization of people with disabilities working for an accessible and inclusive Canada, adds its voice to the Brian Sinclair Working Group’s call for the amendment of the Canada Health Act to make anti-racism the Act’s sixth pillar. The Working Group’s call comes in the aftermath of the death of Joyce Echaquan, a member of the Manawan First Nation, who endured systemic racism at a Joliette hospital in Quebec.  “In the lead-up to a January 2021 high-level Canadian meeting on addressing systemic racism in the health care system, we are speaking out in support of an anti-racism pillar for the Canada Health Act to demonstrate to Canadian decision makers the groundswell of support for the measure from all Canadians,” states Roxana Jahani Aval, Chairperson.

Systemic racism in the health care system is not a Quebec problem; it is a Canadian problem. For example, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is investigating systemic racism in B.C.'s health care system.

Ms. Echaquan’s family and community have challenged Canada to address the pervasive systemic racism that prevents Indigenous and all racialized Canadians from realizing their equality and human rights as promised in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provincial and federal human rights legislation.

“Fast-tracking this amendment of the Canada Health Act to mandate immediate and substantive actions is necessary to address racism at all levels of the health care system.  This would demonstrate to Ms. Echaquan’s community and all Canadians that the federal government is actively and without delay developing the policy mechanisms to begin to address systemic racism which is a cause of inequitable health care outcomes for racialized people in Canada,” states Heather Walkus, First Vice-Chair. “Permanent, episodic or temporary disablement can be a consequence of this discrimination.”

“We call on all social justice, human rights, and disability organizations and all Canadians to add their voices to the call for addition of an anti-racism pillar to the Canada Health Act,” states Chair Roxana Jahani Aval.

Supporters can also sign the Brian Sinclair Working Group’s Open Letter, which elaborates the call for the anti-racism pillar. (The Open Letter can be viewed at


For more information contact:

Roxana Jahani Aval, Chair, Email:, Tel:416-949-3662
Heather Walkus, First Vice Chairperson, Email:, Tel: 250-501-1112

About CCD
CCD is a national human rights organization of people with disabilities working for an inclusive and accessible Canada.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is a social justice organization of people with all disabilities that champions the voices of people with disabilities, advocating an inclusive and accessible Canada, where people with disabilities have full realization of their human rights, as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) unites advocacy organizations of people with disabilities to defend and extend human rights for persons with disabilities through public education, advocacy, intervention in litigation, research, consultation and partnerships.  CCD amplifies the expertise of our partners by acting as a convening body and consensus builder.