The following is a letter to MP Terry Sheehan from Elizabeth Angeconeb (shared with SaultOnline), outlines concerns she has regarding the amendments to MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying), and how this affects the rights of disabled people, and the impact on Indigenous communities.
Dear Mr. Sheehan,
I am writing to you to let you know that I am opposed to the passing of Bill-C-7, which is legislation that expands Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) to disabled people even if they are not approaching death or have a terminal illness. This legislation, currently at Third Reading in the Senate, should be defeated as those most affected, the disabled citizens and the Indigenous communities were not consulted.
There is a danger in making assistance in dying so easily accessible. There needs to be more research done as to why an individual would seek this route. If there were adequate supports in place for a disabled person, such as adequate income, better and accessible housing, access to chronic pain specialists in a timely fashion, and mental heath supports, would that person seek to end their life? What kind of message are the governments and health care practitioners sending to disabled people, when this kind of solution is offered and made accessible? This legislation tells me that message would be that their lives are not of worth or valued by society. In the words of Dr. Naheed Dosani: “If we are going to make Medical Assistance in Dying more accessible for Canadians, we have a duty and moral obligation to make housing, harm reduction services, mental health and income supports, more accessible too.”
Canada is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Article 10requires States to “ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively enjoy their inherent right to life on an equal basis with others. ”This legislation would violate this provision. The term “disability” has been broadly interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada to include a wide and evolving range of permanent, temporary, or intermittent impairments, both physical and mental. A communique addressed to the Government of Canada has been released to the public from three UN Special Rapporteurs regarding their concerns on this legislation.
Many people have testified against MAiD in Senate hearings, condemning it as yet another form of genocide, given that many Indigenous people live with disabilities, including mental illness, as a result of centuries of settler colonialism. Many of our Indigenous communities are battling ongoing suicide crises, whose roots are in government policies, in particular residential school. It is insulting and dangerous to add additional means of death, when our communities have been tirelessly advocating for services that support life such as mental health and suicide prevention services and resources.Consultations with Indigenous communities were not adequate and it is deeply alarming that this legislation is being rushed. I realize that the government is now working under some time constraints, as this legislation is a response to a ruling from the Superior Court of Quebec back in September 2019. The fact that the government was so slow to bring this legislation forwardis no reason to rush it now.
The testimony of Black, Indigenous, racialized and working class Canadians that were shared at these Senate hearings should give pause, and Bill C-7 should be voted down accordingly. It is an unacceptable action on the part of the Liberal Party that forms our present minority government that they would choose to offer disabled people in Canada easier access to Medical Assistance in Dying without providing them adequate supports to live. We should be supporting their living rather than supporting their dying.
As a constituent in the riding of Sault Ste. Marie, I will be watching the process closely. My understanding is that when this legislation is amended/passed by the Senate, it will be sent back to the House of Commons. I would appreciate an early reply from you as to how you plan to vote on this legislation.