CW: Poverty & Assisted Suicide
A 54-year-old man from St. Catharines ON is in the process of applying for medical aid in dying (MAiD), not because he wants to die, but because his social supports are failing him, and he believes he will have no other option. Years ago, Amir Farsoud suffered a back injury that left him in constant pain.
Farsoud stated that he is not applying for MAiD due to his quality of life. He submitted an application because he fears losing his home and would rather die than become homeless. Farsoud has already received one signoff from his doctor, stating that he fits the criteria of physical suffering caused by an intolerable disability that cannot be relieved. He still needs one more doctor’s approval to be eligible.
This is not what MAID was intended for, according to Dr. Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist from the University of Toronto. However, cases like Farsoud’s are becoming more common around the country, according to Bowman. Joannie Cowie of Windsor, Ontario, is considering medical assistance in dying since her disabilities cause her to live in poverty. Her medical conditions include asthma, COPD, cancer, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Cowie is unable to work and does not have any family support. The family’s grocery budget is $59 a month after all the other bills are paid.
Farsoud lives in a rooming house with two other people that is currently for sale. He is on social assistance and says he cannot afford to live somewhere else. Farsoud receives little more than $1,200 per month in ODSP, and after paying $690 per month in rent and bills, he has around $7.00 per day for food. He said he eats beans most of the time. He claims that as a result, he cannot afford to pay additional rent. Where Farsoud resides, there is a seven-year wait list for affordable housing.
Cowie feels like disabled people have been forgotten about. Why is it easier for people with disabilities to die than to live? Disabled people should be able to have a livable income. We should be able to get the help we need to live our lives to the fullest. Millions of disabled people around the world are forced to live in poverty. We need help. People are dying because of a broken system. MAID has long been controversial, and this will continue since mental health conditions will soon be added to the list of reasons one may qualify for assisted death.
Leffler, Brennan, and Marianne Dimain. “How Poverty, Not Pain, Is Driving Canadians with Disabilities to Consider Medically-Assisted Death.” Global News, Global News, 8 Oct. 2022, https://globalnews.ca/news/9176485/poverty-canadians-disabilities-medically-assisted-death/.
Mulligan, Cynthia, and Meredith Bond. “Ontario Man Applying for Medically-Assisted Death as Alternative to Being Homeless.” CityNews, Rogers Sports &Media, 13 Oct. 2022, https://toronto.citynews.ca/2022/10/13/medical-assistance-death-maid-canada/.