Opinion

People with disabilities oppose Canada’s proposed expansion of euthanasia law

Tuesday's hearing heard testimony from several advocates and people with disabilities concerning the effect of Bill C-7 upon their community.
Fri Nov 13, 2020 - 6:03 pm EST
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Roger Foley

November 13, 2020 (Euthanasia Prevention Coalition) — The Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Human Rights had its third hearing on Bill C-7, the bill to expand Canada's euthanasia law, on Tuesday November 10. Tuesday's hearing heard testimony from several advocates and people with disabilities concerning the effect of Bill C-7 upon their community. Link to Tuesday's Parliamentary Committee meeting (Link).

Euthanasia Bill C-7 fast-tracked in Committee (Link).

Kathleen Harris, reporting for CBC news, stated that people with disabilities are warning that Bill C-7, which expands access to MAiD (euthanasia) devalues the lives of vulnerable people. Roger Foley, who was offered MAiD rather than self-directed home-care. Harris reports:

Speaking to MPs on the justice committee via Zoom from his hospital bed in London, Ont., Roger Foley pleaded with policymakers to focus on providing more assistance and home care to Canadians with disabilities. He said he has been denied proper care and was "coerced" into choosing MAID because his acute care needs were too much for hospital staff to handle.

Foley, who suffers from an incurable neurological disorder, said he was told he would have to pay $1,800 per day in hospital costs or face a forced discharge, even though he couldn't get the necessary supports to live at home.

"Assisted dying is easier to access than safe and appropriate disability supports to live,"

Harris reported that Krista Carr, the executive vice-President of Inclusion Canada fears that state provided suicide will become an acceptable response to disability.

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Krista Carr

...She said the community of Canadians with disabilities and their families have long feared that having a disability would become an acceptable reason for "state-provided suicide."

"Bill C-7 is our worst nightmare," she said, adding that equating assisted death to an equality right is a "moral affront."

Carr said family members worry their loved ones will choose MAID to end their suffering because they feel they have no choice. She said that situation would relieve political leaders of their responsibility to provide adequate medical care, housing and income supports.

"The lives of people with disabilities are as necessary to the integrity of the human family as any other dimension of humanity, and this threat to the lives of people with disabilities is a threat to us all,"

Jesse Snyder reported for Post Media that Heidi Janz, the chair of the End-of-Life issues Committee with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) was alarmed by the speed of the committee hearings and called on the government to extend public consultations on Bill C-7. An article by Janz on October 26 stated that Canada must ensure revised assisted dying law will not threaten lives of people with disabilities.

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Taylor Hyatt

Snyder reported that Taylor Hyatt, who is a member of the same CCD Committee with Janz described her recent experience with pneumonia, where the doctor offered her euthanasia.

Hyatt said her doctor at one point suggested the possibility of medically assisted death, an experience that she worries will be replicated many times over if Bill C-7 passes. She eventually recovered from her illness, and says today that medical professionals overlooked the chances that Hyatt, who was then in her 20s, would return to health.

"All the doctor seemed to see, though, was a disabled woman alone, sick, tired and probably tired of living,"

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition encourages you to submit a brief to the Committee explaining your concerns with the bill. Please share personal stories in your brief. (Link to submit a brief).

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*Sign and share the EPC Petition: Reject euthanasia Bill C-7 (Link). 

How does Bill C-7 expand the euthanasia law in Canada?

Bill C-7 removes the requirement in the law that a person's natural death be reasonably foreseeable to qualify for MAiD. People who are not terminally ill can be killed by MAiD. The Quebec Truchon court decision, that led to Bill C-7 only required this amendment to the law, but Bill C-7 goes further. Bill C-7:

1. permits a doctor or nurse practitioner to lethally inject a person who is not capable of consenting, if that person was previously approved for MAiD. This contravenes the Supreme Court of Canada Carter decision which stated that only competent people could die by euthanasia.

2. waives the ten-day waiting period when a person is deemed to be "terminally ill." A person could request death by euthanasia on a "bad day" and die the same day. Studies prove that the "will to live" fluctuates.

3. creates a two track law. A person who is deemed to be terminally ill would have no waiting period while a person who is not terminally ill will have a 90 day waiting period before being killed by lethal injection.

If Bill C-7 is passed, a future court decision will strike down the 90 day waiting period for people whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable because, this provision represents an inequality in the law.

4. reduces the number of independent witness from two to one.

5. falsely claims to prevent euthanasia for people with mental illness. The law permits MAiD for people who are physically or psychologically suffering in a manner that is intolerable to the person and that cannot be relieved in a way that the person considers acceptable. 

However mental illness is considered a form of psychological suffering, which is not defined in the bill. If the government wants to exclude euthanasia for mental illness the bill would need to define psychological suffering to exclude mental illness.

Bill C-7 permits anyone who believes that their physical or psychological suffering is intolerable to die by lethal injection, even if effective medical treatments for their condition exists, after a 90 day reflection period. (Link to Bill C-7).

Contact your Member of Parliament and say that you oppose Bill C-7. The list of Members of Parliament: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/search

More Articles on Bill C-7:

Published with permission from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.


  assisted suicide, bill c-7, euthanasia, euthanasia prevention coalition, medical aid in dying bill

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