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

Just Posted

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

Mario Bafaro awoke in the middle of the night on April 25 to his home on fire in the Big Eddy. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
‘I didn’t know I had so many friends’: Revelstoke fire victim thanks community for support

Mario Bafaro lost his home and dogs in a house fire on April 25

Tim Miller is selling his 76-foot steel bridge from his property in Burton, B.C. The bridge originates from the railway in Revelstoke. (Contributed)
For sale: a 100-ton 19th century bridge from Revelstoke

Bridge is now in Burton, B.C. and advertised for $40,000

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A man and woman, both 33 and from Kelowna, were arrested on Postill Lake Forest Service Road in possession of two stolen vehicles Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna duo arrested with stolen vehicles after ‘brief’ bicycle getaway attempt

A man and a woman were arrested on a forest service road on numerous pending charges

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) handed out fines to two anglers on Shuswap Lake who were both casting more than one line, in violation of provincial regulations, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (COS photo)
Conservation officers snag Shuswap anglers for unlawful fishing

Two anglers were given $150 fines for casting two lines at once, against provincial regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Lynda Saundry, born 1961, is charged with the murder of North Okanagan resident Barry Jones in July 2020. Saundry will appear in Vernon court May 17, 2021, to fix a date for a preliminary inquiry. (Facebook public photo)
North Okanagan murder suspect to be tried by judge and jury

Lynda Saundry is charged with the first-degree murder of Barry Jones in July 2020

Vernon Search and Rescue’s Legacy vessel is returning to Okanagan Lake for boating season, the society said Friday, May 14, 2021. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue vessel returns to Okanagan Lake

VSAR’s Legacy is back with a fresh coat of paint and some other upgrades

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Most Read