Pushing Back Against MAID: Exploring Alternatives

The statistics are arresting. Between 2020 and 2021, there was a 32.4 per cent increase in the number of hastened deaths in Canada, a total of 10,064 in 2021.1 Of those opting for assisted suicide, 86.3 per cent said the reason for requesting death was the loss of ability to engage in meaningful activities.2 And access to hastened death is soon to expand even more.

The law on Medical Assistance in Dying, or MAID (a term that is sanitized and positive – who would refuse maid service?), was first passed in 2016. Initially, it limited hastened death to those whose “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable” in the wording of the legislation.

In March of 2021 the law was changed to create a second track for those who are not dying. Persons with a serious illness or disability, but who are not dying, are eligible for hastened death if they meet the other requirements. This legislation also allowed hastened death for those with mental illness as their only medical condition, with a two-year delay before it would take effect, on March 17, 2023.

In an unexpected but welcome development, the federal government has delayed the expansion for one year. This is a significant pause, but only a pause, in what has become an expanding regime of hastened death.

This announcement comes in the wake of a number of cautions from experts and professional bodies who question whether we are prepared to cross this Rubicon, particularly when the promised guidelines for determining who qualifies are yet to be finalized.

The Canadian Medical Association says that by the age of 40, half of Canadians will have had or have a mental illness. And far too many are unable to access timely treatment or care. The law requires only that patients be informed about treatment options to relieve their suffering before having their lives ended via MAID. But often waiting lists for treatment are longer than the reflection period required by the law, in some cases up to five years, and therapy can be expensive. As Canadians, we need to commit resources to care rather than offering to kill.

This pause coincides with many heart-breaking stories of people requesting assisted suicide for reasons of poverty, housing insecurity or lack of adequate support. Their reason for opting for death is not their medical condition. Rather, they are requesting death because they lack the resources they need to live. As one stated, “I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to be homeless more than I don’t want to die.” Another said “The numbers I crunch… I will not make it. Like in my case, the problem is not really the disability, it is the poverty. It’s the quality of life.”

… to read the rest of this article, please visit this link https://testimony.paoc.org/articles/pushing-back-against-maid