No to Bill C7. DO NOT Eliminate "Reasonably Foreseeable" Death Requirement for MAiD
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Petition By Dignity Denied - A Defiant Group of Disabled People demanding the right to live in dignity.
URGENT: Tell Your MP to Vote No to Bill C7!
*The House of Commons could vote on Bill C-7 before they break for the holidays (December 11th). This is VERY URGENT!
We are asking Prime Minister Trudeau and Members of Parliament to vote NO to Bill C7, An Act to Amend The Criminal Code of Canada (medical assistance in dying).
Read the bill here.
This bill would expand eligibility for MAID to almost everyone who is disabled and/or has a chronic illness in Canada, and will, if passed in its current form, make our country the world leader in administering death.
In June 2016 MAID (medical assistance in dying – aka assisted suicide aka euthanasia) became law in Canada.
Several important safeguards that Parliament deemed necessary to protect the lives of vulnerable individuals from a wrongful death when it brought MAID in are being removed.
Under the new bill a “reasonably foreseeable” death is no longer required for state funded medically assisted death.
This will mean that the disabled people who have applied for MAID using the language of the legislation but in reality motivated by the severe poverty they face due to the well below poverty line disability benefit rates, will be eligible to be put to death rather than have the government raise the rates to a standard they can survive on.
Bill C-7 is a threat to all disabled people but poses particular threat to Black, Indigenous and other racialized and/or poor disabled people that our medical system and governments have historically shown to regard as dispensable groups and who in some cases experience markedly disproportionate rates of disability and chronic illness as a consequence of living in a racist society. This Bill is a threat to our elders.
Bill C-7 also creates a unique and particular threat to disabled women who experience violence at approximately twice the incidence of non-disabled women.
The Government of Canada does not currently uphold the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It does not provide disabled people with the proper adapted and actually affordable housing and supports to live in the community and this bill will not require it to do so.
We agree Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities: "From a disability rights perspective, there is a grave concern that legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide could put at risk the lives of persons with disabilities. If assisted dying is made available for all persons with a health condition or impairment, regardless of whether they are terminally ill or not, a social assumption might follow that it is better to be dead than to live with a disability. Therefore, a first concern is that persons with a newly acquired impairment may opt for assisted dying based on prejudices, fears and low expectations of living with a disability, before even having the chance of coming to terms with and adapting to their new disability status. Second, persons with disabilities may decide to end their lives because of social factors, including loneliness, social isolation and lack of access to quality support services. A third problem is that persons with disabilities, particularly older persons with disabilities,may be vulnerable to explicit or implicit pressures arising from their context, including expectations from family members, financial pressures, cultural messages and even coercion."
There is already reason to be concerned about the existing MAiD legislation as it currently stands without Bill C-7 making it easier to access euthanasia.
In a paper for the Canadian Journal of Bioethics entitled, Medical Assistance in Dying: Challenges of Monitoring the Canadian Program, Jaro Kotalik wrote: "...the silence of provincial and territorial bodies promotesan atmosphere of secrecy. Hospital annual reports available to the public do not provide any information about the MAID program within their institutions. Regional health authorities often have MAID coordinators or MAID teams, but there are no reports released on their activity. Combined with the scarcity of information on MAID from provincial, territorial and federal governments,this social situation leads to a lack of understanding and knowledge among professionals and the public about how the MAID program operates."
For these and a many other reasons Kotalik concluded, "By the end of December 2019, over 13,000 Canadians died with medical assistance (25). For almost 10,000 of those MAID cases, we have no publicly accessible evidence that the eligibility criteria and safeguards prescribed by law were respected."
If Bill C-7 becomes law there will be two tracks to assisted suicide, one for those who are disabled and/or have chronic illness but with no “reasonably foreseeable” death and one for everyone, disabled or non-disabled, whose death is “reasonably foreseeable.”
The 10-day reflection period will be abolished. This means someone whose natural death is considered to be “reasonably foreseeable” could apply, be assessed and euthanized all on the same day. We are very concerned that removing the 10-day reflection period and other safeguards will lead to an increase in coerced or tragically unconsidered deaths.
For a disabled person or person with chronic illness with no reasonably foreseeable death there will be a 90-day "Assessment Period" (this time-frame can be reduced in some circumstances). 90 days is shorter than is required to apply, receive, let alone benefit from many forms of care and support that might alleviate pain, suffering and restore dignity and meaning to their lives. If that care and support is even funded or available in the region where they live. We are concerned Bill C-7 will further lessen the necessity of governments to fully fund and create appropriate systems of support.
As disabled people we know that the period of transition from being non-disabled to disabled or as a new disability develops can be difficult and it is not usual to experience shock or go through temporary periods of feeling depressed and overwhelmed. People with degenerative conditions can face recurring periods of grief and acceptance at each new stage in their condition. We also know that feeling doesn't last. Many disabled people who are thrilled to be alive today have said they might have taken the option of MAiD had it been offered and/or available to them at the time. Death should not be a solution to a temporary feeling.
This Bill permits the streamlining of death options with no efforts to improve life options, making it easier for those in crisis to have medical staff emphasize options for death to them, with a reduction in the requirement for independent witnesses, increasing the risk of abuse.
As bad as this bill is, it also has the potential to become far worse.
The Canadian Nurses Association has urged the government to specifically clarify in the law that medical practitioners can initiate discussions on assisted dying. And there has been discussion of adding a sunset clause giving the government one year to expand the law further to include mental illness or mental health related disability as criteria for MAID. Read more here.
Canada has a well documented history of institutionalization, sterilization, segregation, exclusion, discrimination and outright banning (via immigration) of disabled people. Disabled people are a recognized protected class under the Human Rights Code and Charter. We are over-represented below the poverty line, as victims of police and other violence, in prison, among the homeless and we are excluded by design from many of this country's buildings, communication, transportation and city streets.
Too often when we are murdered the sympathy falls to those who murder us.
Whenever disabled people speak out warning of the danger of euthanasia in the context of a country where disabled people’s lives are treated as having less or no value, we were dismissed as presenting a "slippery slope" argument. This fully and skillfully dismantled and refuted in this paper.
Now here we are just over four years later and the government is introducing a bill that would extend medical assistance in dying beyond the dying.
We need to STOP Bill C-7 before it becomes law.
For these and other reasons we ask you to join us in sending this message to Members of Parliament and the Canadian Senate:
Dear Members of Canadian Senate and Parliament,
We are asking you to reject Bill C-7, an Act to Amend the CCC (medical assistance in dying).
We do not agree with the "reasonably foreseeable death" requirement being removed and assisted suicide becoming a 'treatment option' for disabled people and people with chronic illness.
Canada does not currently provide the means for disabled people to live in dignity. This country does not honour the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. Disabled people under the age of 65 are forced into Long Term Care facilities due to the lack of appropriate housing and community supports.
Bill C-7 will allow speedy access to death for a group of people who are denied speedy (or often any) access to necessary care and appropriate support. The waiting time for accessing what care and support does exist is longer than the waiting time Bill C-7 proposes for disabled people with non-terminal conditions to be terminated.
On multiple levels Bill C-7 is discriminatory and has real potential to reflect and worsen existing inequities. There are disparities in health outcomes that reflect this country's racial inequities. There are disparities in incidence of chronic illness and disability, access to care and consequently to health outcomes that reflect this country's racial inequities. Access to care varies considerably by region in Canada. Disabled women are approximately twice as likely to be victims of violence as non-disabled women. Disabled people are disproportionately represented below the poverty line and among those who are homeless. Social media is filled with disabled people fundraising for medical and mobility equipment, prescription medications, therapies that would lessen their pain and money for food and rent.
The Canadian Government has failed to include disabled people in its response to the pandemic and as a result people have applied for MAiD to escape their worsening poverty.
In the midst of a pandemic in which disabled people are both at high risk and excluded from the response, the Canadian Government moving forward with legislation to make assisted suicide the one option they will make easier for us to access is beyond irresponsible governance.
Stop Bill C-7. Vote to reject this Bill and take the time to consult with disabled people. There is simply no dying with dignity to those who you have prevented from the right to live in dignity. There is no dignity in Bill C-7. If it passes it will be Canada's shame.
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