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It has for some time been settled under section 15 of the Charter and within anti-discrimination code definitions that "disability" includes "addictions". Labour boards and human rights tribunals have long accepted that "alcohol and drug addiction are illnesses and are physical and mental disabilities for the purposes of the Human Rights Code. There are no reasons to consider them any less an illness or disability than any other serious affliction."' The shift in expert consensus led to notable changes to the key American diagnostic instrument, the DSM 5, adopted in 2013 with a completely revised approach to addictions. What is significant for the purposes of disability law is that addiction, including both substance and behavioural addictions (e.g. gambling), is now broadly accepted as a mental illness.


Prepared for: OBA Institute 2018 Exploring the Evolving Definition of Disability and Evidence to Support It.

January 19, 2018.