Parliament Hill is shown in Ottawa on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. The Trudeau government has agreed with the Senate that Canadians suffering solely from grievous and irremediable mental illnesses should be entitled to receive medical assistance in dying — but not for another two years. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick photo)

Parliament Hill is shown in Ottawa on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. The Trudeau government has agreed with the Senate that Canadians suffering solely from grievous and irremediable mental illnesses should be entitled to receive medical assistance in dying — but not for another two years. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick photo)

Self-advocates ‘sad, scared, angry’ over revisions to assisted-death legislation

Bill C-7 was expanded to include access to medically assisted death for non-terminal conditions

Self-advocates are expressing disgust over recent changes to federal Medical Assistance in Dying legislation.

READ MORE: Canadians not near death gain access to assisted dying as Senate passes Bill C-7

In short, they say last month’s expansion of Bill C-7 to include people with non-terminal conditions is a violation of human rights – one that leaves them “sad, scared and angry.”

In a statement distributed Tuesday (April 13), Self-Advocate Leadership Network (SALN) officials – representing a network of self-advocates from seven Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island organizations – say the move “has further devalued people with disabilities and many other groups of Canadian citizens,” and puts many people with disabilities at risk.

The legislation revision, the statement continues – citing United Nations human-rights experts – is based on ableist assumptions about the quality and worth of the life of a person with a disability.

Canada first legalized assisted dying in June 2016 (it came into force in Quebec in December 2015). In September 2019, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled that parts of the laws on MAID were unconstitutional, namely, the requirement that a patient’s natural death must be “reasonably foreseeable” in order to qualify for the service. Government was given six months to amend it.

READ MORE: Choices in dying under review in Canada; online survey closes Jan. 27

Online consultation followed, including regarding whether new hurdles should be imposed to prevent abuse and protect vulnerable people from being pressured into ending their lives. The government’s survey also asked whether the law should be expanded to include allowing people who fear losing mental competence to make advance requests for an assisted death.

The latter aspect prompted one SALN member to describe the new bill as “frightening.”

“If someone is not well (mental health) and feeling they are ready to die – they are vulnerable – this is dangerous.”

The revised bill does include higher hurdles for those not near death, including a minimum 90-day period for assessments of their requests for an assisted death. They will also have to be able to give final consent immediately before receiving the procedure. As well, people suffering solely from grievous and irremediable mental illnesses will have to wait two years to gain the right to seek medical assistance in dying.

Nolda Ware, SALN supporter and manager of family support services and person-centred practices for UNITI – a partnership of three organizations, including Semiahmoo House Society, that advocates for and supports people with disabilities and their families – expressed concern around influence and coercion, and said the system has no right to make judgment on a person’s quality of life.

And while an Ipsos survey conducted for Dying With Dignity Canada in January 2020 suggested overwhelming support among Canadians for expanding access to medically assisted dying, SALN chair Michael McLellan described the revision, given royal assent on March 17, as “a huge step backwards.”

“It clearly tells us how they do not value people with disabilities/mental illness,” he said.

Government committed to setting up an expert panel to advise on safeguards and protocols that should apply to people with mental illnesses, and rejected a Senate amendment to allow people who fear losing mental competence to make advance requests for an assisted death. The latter issue and other unresolved matters are to be reviewed by a joint parliamentary committee.

SALN’s newsletters are distributed across the province, including to federal representatives. The network, formed in 2019, aims to “promote a good life through positive and informed: actions, networking, and advocacy.”

– with files from Canadian Press



tholmes@peacearchnews.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

disabilitiesmedical aid in dyingSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Robert’s column
Robert Barron column: Cameras on school buses a good idea

“I’ve seen kids have to run from cars”

Trying out a corn variety called “Midnight Snack, grown near Cache Creek, as well as my saved Bantam/Sunnyvee Cross (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Early sowing gets a jump on corn season

‘I’m planting three batches of corn, two weeks apart for a steady supply’

North Cowichan considers extending tax payment deadline by two months. (File photo)
North Cowichan considers extending deadline for property tax payments

A two-month deadline extension to Sept. 1 gets three readings

John Horn is leaving his position as executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association. (File photo)
John Horn leaving Cowichan Housing Association

Will take on role as executive director of John Howard Society in Nanaimo

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Island Health has confirmed COVID-19 exposures at Ecole des Deux Mondes in Campbell River on May 4 and 5, and at Mill Bay Nature School in Mill Bay on April 28, 29, 30 and May 3. (Metro Creative photo)
Two new COVID-19 school exposures confirmed by Island Health

Health authority contacting anyone exposed at Ecole des Deux Mondes, Mill Bay Nature School

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read