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

North Island Gazette file photo of Port Hardy council.
Port Hardy council to send RCMP officer a letter of congratulations

Mayor Dennis Dugas said Corp. Chris Voller ‘obviously earned it and he did a great job up here’

The Scott’s jewelry boxes and whales’ tails pedestal bowls. (Debra Lynn photo)
Port Alice woodworking business flourishes with word-of-mouth promotion

The Scotts have depended on local promotion and word-of-mouth connections to expand their business

Renovations are underway at the Old Schoolhouse as Cafe Guido gets ready to turn it into the Copper & Kelp Market. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Cafe Guido purchases ‘dying’ Old Schoolhouse store to save it from extinction

After purchasing it they decided to give it a new name, coming up with ‘The Copper & Kelp Market’

A wolf was seen in a resident’s backyard in Port Hardy. (Al Dodd photo)
Conservation officers awaiting reports of wolves at the door in Port Hardy

Wildlife officials need more direct concrete information before reacting, as social media buzzes

Gourmet donuts made by Jesus Poem and Athena Guy. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Italian gourmet donuts a hit in the North Island

Poem said the feedback on the gourmet donuts has been fantastic

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

A wild rabbit grazes in Nanaimo, B.C. in this Feb.2, 2018 photo. Rabbit owners in Alberta are being warned about a deadly virus that was identified in a southern Alberta household last month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner
‘Like a flash fire:’ Rabbit owners warned about outbreak of deadly disease in Alberta

The disease is confined to rabbits and cannot spread to humans

A lady wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada may find it challenging to reach herd immunity from COVID-19, experts say

Level of immunity among the population changes with the variants, especially the more transmissible strains

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
Clash between loggers, activists halts forestry operations over Fairy Creek

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

The courthouse in Nanaimo, B.C. (News Bulletin file)
Island man sentenced in Nanaimo after causing a dog unnecessary pain and suffering

Kiefer Tyson Giroux, 26, of Nanoose Bay, given six-month sentence

Following a one-year pause due to the pandemic, the Snowbirds were back in the skies over the Comox Valley Wednesday (May 5) morning. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Video: Snowbirds hold first training session in Comox Valley in more than 2 years

The team will conduct their training from May 4 to 26 in the area

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

Most Read