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

Ken Rutherford, left, and Rick Lord of Port Alberni receive honours from the National Model Railroad Association—Pacific Northwest Region for 40 years of dedication to the preservation and presentation of railroad history. (PHOTO COURTESY PHYLLIS RUTHERFORD)
Model railroaders from Port Alberni honoured for rail preservation

Ken Rutherford and Rick Lord put on annual model railroad meet in Nanaimo for 35 years

Former Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ associate coach Brandon Shaw has been named head coach of the Coquitlam Express, also of the B.C. Hockey League. The announcement was made May 12, 2021. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)
BCHL’s Coquitlam Express hire new head coach

Brandon Shaw leaves Alberni Valley Bulldogs for bench boss job

The Alberni Golf Club is located on Cherry Creek Road. FILE PHOTO
ALBERNI GOLF: Men’s club tees up for Mother’s Day

Next Sunday, May 16 will be the Stableford competition

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
School district to choose new name for AW Neill Elementary in Port Alberni

School will not be renamed after Winston Joseph, says board

Carol Brown from the Alberni District Fall Fair committee, works on the online feed for the 2020 virtual Fall Fair on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (SONJA DRINKWATER/ Special to the AV News)
Alberni District Fall Fair wins national award for innovation

Long-running traditional Vancouver Island fair went virtual due to COVID-19

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Could Victoria skull fragment bring closure to an Island missing persons mystery?

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read