CW: Assisted Suicide
A parliamentary committee has offered 23 recommendations to strengthen Canada’s assisted-dying policy. The committee attended 36 meetings, heard from approximately 150 witnesses, and evaluated over 350 briefs on the medically assisted suicide program.
It recommends that the Liberal administration improve access to palliative care and increase financial support for people with disabilities. Members of Parliament are anticipated to pass a government bill this session delaying the expansion of MAID to persons with mental illnesses until March 2024. Previously, the expansion was scheduled to take effect in March of this year.
Canada’s medical assistance in-dying program was made legally available to some adults with terminal illnesses in 2016. In 2021, it was expanded to include those with severe and chronic physical conditions.
Since 2016, the number of Canadians who have died by assisted suicide has risen dramatically yearly. In 2021, the most recent full year for which data was available, 10,064 Canadians died from MAID while under a doctor’s care.
This was a 32.4% increase over the 7,630 Canadians who died in 2019. Shockingly, the number of individuals dying due to MAiD in Canada has nearly doubled since 2018. Six years ago, 5,661 Canadians died as a result of MAiD.
People like Jacques Comeau, who is quadriplegic, see MAID as an alternative to Canada’s inadequate support for disabled people. Comeau, a retired art therapist from Montreal, is quadriplegic and uses a wheelchair. He says that he has thrived as a result of home care services. Comeau could attend college, travel, and work because he had reliable care.
Everything changed over the summer, however, when his local health facility (CLSC) underwent significant changes. Comeau’s care regimen has changed, and he says it has affected his quality of life.
Attendants visit three times per week to assist him with his bowel program. According to him, the procedure is done incorrectly. As a result, it endangers Comeau and causes him discomfort. He has also had episodes of incontinence.
Amir Farsoud, in another case, suffered a back injury that left him in severe pain. He applied because he fears losing his home and would rather die than be homeless. As of 2022, Farsoud has already received approval from his doctor, declaring that he fits the criteria for physical suffering caused by an acute disability that cannot be relieved.
Farsoud lived in a rooming house with two other people that was for sale last year. He says that because he receives government benefits, he cannot afford to reside elsewhere. Farsoud receives approximately $1,200 in ODSP per month. He has approximately $7.00 daily for food after paying $690 in rent and expenses. Furthermore, where he resides, there is a seven-year waitlist for affordable housing.
For other people like John Scully, the program represents an end to their suffering. Scully currently resides in Toronto. He was diagnosed with depression more than 30 years ago. He also has PTSD and anxiety due to his job. He says he has horrifying, vivid nightmares. He wants to utilize MAID to receive relief from his debilitating mental illnesses.
Why is it easier for disabled people to die than to live? We should be able to receive the help we require to live our lives to the fullest. Disability benefits should provide a livable income. Millions of disabled people worldwide are forced to live in poverty. We need help. People are dying as a result of a broken system.
Fraser, David. “People with Disabilities Need More Federal Supports to Deter Requests for Assisted Dying, Committee Says | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/committee-study-medical-assistance-in-dying-1.6750084.
Hopper, Tristin. “Disability Rights Groups Fight against Euthanasia.” National Post, Postmedia Network, 5 Jan. 2023, https://nationalpost.com/opinion/disability-rights-groups-euthanasia.
Jacobs, Emma. “Canada Will Delay Providing Medical Assistance in Dying to People with Mental Illness.” NPR, NPR, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/02/14/1156987170/canada-delays-expansion-of-medical-assistance-in-dying-to-people-with-mental-ill.
Roy, Lillian, and Angela MacKenzie. “’I Can’t Live That Way’: Montreal Man Seeking Medically Assisted Death Due to Home Care Conditions.” CTV News, CTV News, 29 Sept. 2022, https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/i-can-t-live-that-way-montreal-man-seeking-medically-assisted-death-due-to-home-care-conditions-1.6090165.
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/.