Physician-assisted dying is humane only with sufficient income — Lindsay Advocate


By Lindsay Advocate

Without the addition of cash and housing supports for those in our lowest income brackets, the policy has a disproportionate and negative effect on the poor and disabled.

William Paterson

Medical assistance in dying (MAID) is widely accepted as a humane and safe way for terminally ill or suffering patients to end their lives with the help of medical professionals. But this can only be true if someone has sufficient income.

Without the addition of cash and housing supports for those in our lowest income brackets, the policy has a disproportionate and negative effect on the poor and disabled, many of whom believe their only choice is between poverty or poverty. dead.

The practice was legalized by the federal government in 2016 and, due to a Quebec Superior Court ruling that some of its restrictions were unconstitutional, access to MAID was expanded in 2020 under the Bill C-7.

More recently, Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, also touted a so-called “Canadian Disability Benefit for low-income people with disabilities”. of working age”. The Liberal Party even ran in the last federal election. But he never came either. Even during the peak of COVID-19, when workers and businesses received help, the poor and disabled were ignored or forgotten.

Locally, Tory MP Jamie Schmale weighed in with voters on how he should vote on Bill C-7 in a referendum, where 65% voted for the policy. As a result, Schmale voted to expand MAID, breaking with his party’s majority. Despite his vote, Schmale did not push further for increased financial assistance for people with disabilities and does not support, for example, a basic income.

Now, as expected, people are choosing MAID over continuing to live in poverty with inadequate provincial supports like the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), which pays up to $1,169 a month.

As CTV News reported, a 31-year-old Toronto woman who uses a wheelchair and has chemical sensitivities chose MAID over continuing to live. But was it a choice if her first choice, as she put it, was to live? She wants a wheelchair-accessible, smoke- and chemical-free home, but her only income comes from ODSP. She receives the maximum monthly payment plus $50 for a special diet, which prevents her from affording housing. She applied for MAID “due to abject poverty”. Fortunately, thanks to a recent successful crowdfunding campaign that raised over $65,000, the woman postponed MAID.

Another 51-year-old Toronto woman with chemical sensitivities recently chose MAID after an unsuccessful two-year search for affordable housing. All levels of government denied her the housing assistance she desperately needed, so she had no choice, she believed, but her own death. As CTV News reported, she left letters detailing her search, in which she begs local, state and federal authorities to help find a home safe from the smoke and chemicals that pollute her home. apartment.

Federal MAID policy, combined with insufficient provincial supports for people with disabilities, has created a stark choice for many Canadians with disabilities. But this problem should have been obvious to everyone. It was certainly obvious to those of us who receive tiny ODSP payments each month.

MAID is not a viable or humane policy if it is not accompanied by appropriate social assistance.

–William Paterson is a Lindsay resident trying to live with what is allocated to him through the Ontario Disability Support Program.


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