Is Canada Euthanizing the Poor? 

Simons, a Canadian fashion and home decor retailer, released a three-minute film in October showcasing the planned assisted death of a sick Canadian woman. The 37-year-old used Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) to die on Oct. 23  after dealing with complications from Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a group of inherited disorders that affect the connective tissue supporting many body parts.

While Simon’s tries to paint an uplifting picture of an individual’s decision to end their life in order to sell fashion and home decor, there are some serious questions about Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), its intentions, and effects.

I’m certainly no expert on assisted death, and I don’t mean to question or attempt to judge which conditions warrant such assistance, but I would like to look at whether society has exhausted all other means of assistance to help provide a stable, fulfilling life before turning to assisted death.

So what exactly is MAiD? From Global News:

Enacted in 2016, Canada’s first MAiD legislation required that death be “reasonably foreseeable.” However, based on subsequent legal challenges, the legislation was ruled unconstitutional and the rules were changed. Starting last year, anyone who has a “serious and incurable illness, disease or disability” that is irreversible with “enduring and intolerable” suffering became eligible.

In theory there are safeguards: applications have to be approved by two doctors, the process takes at least 90 days, and those who cite inadequate financial and social support are not supposed to be approved.

Next year, the country is set to allow people to be killed exclusively for mental health reasons. It is also considering extending euthanasia to “mature” minors — children under 18 who meet the same requirements as adults.

Back to the woman featured in the Simons’ ad for a moment. She gave an interview to CTV News back in June describing how she wanted to live but couldn’t afford care to improve her quality of life.

This is what is at the heart of the debate in Canada. (Most US coverage of the program only mention financial issues in passing, like this Sept. 18 story from the New York Times titled Is Choosing Death Too Easy in Canada?” It mentions “economic and housing challenges” exactly once at the end of the nineteenth paragraph.)

Both mental illness and disability are oftentimes inseparable from severe financial stress. There is evidence that poverty can cause or worsen mental illness, as well as physical ailments.

So we acknowledge that poverty is pain, but rather than relieving that pain, offer death, is that not just killing poor people?

Even if that isn’t the intent of MAiD, there is evidence it is having that effect. Again from Global News:

Critics say the government’s quick expansion of MAiD and insistence that it’s the compassionate thing to do misses an important factor. A massive number of Canadians with disabilities … are trapped in an excruciating cycle of poverty.

Only 31 percent of Canadians who are severely disabled are employed, according to Statistics Canada, and that means scraping by to survive. According to the government’s 2021 report on MAiD, there were 179 people who ended their lives through the program who required but did not receive disability support.

Even more alarming is that there were 1,968 people who may have also required disability but didn’t receive it; their status was simply marked unknown. That would mean that approximately 25 percent of those who ended their lives through MAiD lacked disability support they needed.

Even when they do receive such support, it’s usually woefully inadequate. Global News reports on the case of Joannie Cowie, a 52-year-old resident of Windsor, Ontario who has COPD and Guillain-Barré syndrome and has dealt with cancer, as well as other physical ailments. But just as stressful is the never ending struggle to make ends meet:

Today, Cowie is unable to work, and has no family support. She lives with her daughter, a university student who is also disabled. Together, they must find a way to scrape by on $1,228 from Ontario’s disability support program, and a few hundred more for her daughter. It isn’t nearly enough

According to the AP, no province or territory provides a disability benefit income above the poverty line. And Heidi Janz, an assistant adjunct professor in Disability Ethics at the University of Alberta, told the AP that “a person with disabilities in Canada has to jump through so many hoops to get support that it can often be enough to tip the scales” and lead them to euthanasia.

There is also the fact that many mentally ill Canadians are not even on disability. According to the Toronto Star, 1 in 5 Canadians “either did not have prescription drug insurance or had inadequate insurance to cover their medication needs” and 1 in 4 “Canadian households were having difficulty finding money to buy their medicines”. Wait times for therapy can also be incredibly long, taking between 1 to 4 months to access counselling. According to Nouvelle News:

Those living with serious mental health illnesses disproportionately live in poverty. 1 in 5 Canadians will struggle with a mental illness in a given year, and 45% of those who are homeless either have a mental illness or disability in Canada. 35% of those on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) have a diagnosed mental illness. In 2014, 23% of Canadians classified as disabled were  low income and, according to the Homeless Hub, “people living with disabilities, both mental and physical, are twice as likely to live below the poverty line”.

Dr. Dosani, a palliative care physician and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, told Global News that such poverty and stress makes people sicker and is causing Canadians with disabilities to consider ending their lives:

The numbers are grim. Looking across the country, provincial disability support rates vary from a low of $705 per month in New Brunswick, to a high of $1,685 in Alberta. Try getting by on $1,228 per month in Toronto, or $1,358 in Vancouver, where the average rent on a one-bedroom apartment is about $2,500.

The result is that according to a 2017 report from Statistics Canada, nearly a quarter of disabled people are living in poverty. That’s roughly 1.5 million people, or a city about the population of Montreal.

“When people are living in such a situation where they’re structurally placed in poverty, is medical assistance in dying really a choice or is it coercion? That’s the question we need to ask ourselves,” Dr. Dosani says.

The answers, so far, are not pretty.

There’s the case of a Canadian veteran who was seeking help for PTSD and a traumatic brain injury and was offered MAiD by a Veterans Affairs employee.

There’s this case from Nouvelle News:

Recently, a Toronto woman named Sophia, with multiple chemical sensitivities (a disability),  partook in MAiD. Sophia attributed this in part to her miserable living environment, saying it contributed to her condition. After 2-years of fighting for assistance from “all levels of government” to help in improving her living conditions. Peris, a worker from an organisation who assists people with multiple chemical sensitivities and who interacted with Sophia, stated that “it’s not that she didn’t want to live – she couldn’t live that way”

The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities reported that in 2019 seniors told her they were offered a choice “between a nursing home and medical assistance in dying.”

According to the AP, a 61-year-old Canadian was hospitalized in June 2019 over fears he might be suicidal:

Within a month, Nichols submitted a request to be euthanized and he was killed, despite concerns raised by his family and a nurse practitioner. His application for euthanasia listed only one health condition as the reason for his request to die: hearing loss.

Assisted death is available in eight US states and the District of Columbia but is much stricter with requirements that the individual is terminally ill with a prognosis of six months or less to live.

It’s hard to tell if Canada will begin to get any MAiD tourism as the country’s info page only states that, “generally, visitors to Canada are not eligible for medical assistance in dying.”

Euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain, plus several states in Australia. But Canada’s rules make it much more accessible than elsewhere. From the Associated Press:

— Unlike Belgium and the Netherlands, where euthanasia has been legal for two decades, Canada doesn’t have monthly commissions to review potentially troubling cases, although it does publish yearly reports of euthanasia trends.

— Canada is the only country that allows nurse practitioners, not just doctors, to end patients’ lives. Medical authorities in its two largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec, explicitly instruct doctors not to indicate on death certificates if people died from euthanasia.

— Belgian doctors are advised to avoid mentioning euthanasia to patients since it could be misinterpreted as medical advice. The Australian state of Victoria forbids doctors from raising euthanasia with patients. There are no such restrictions in Canada. The association of Canadian health professionals who provide euthanasia tells physicians and nurses to inform patients if they might qualify to be killed, as one of their possible “clinical care options.”

— Canadian patients are not required to have exhausted all treatment alternatives before seeking euthanasia, as is the case in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The number of people using MAiD has steadily grown since it was instituted in 2016.



According to the government’s 2021 report on MAiD, these were reasons people gave for ending their lives through the program:

  • Loss of ability to engage in meaningful activities: 86.3%
  • Loss of ability to perform activities of daily living: 83.4%
  • Inadequate control of pain (or concern): 57.6%
  • Loss of dignity: 54.3%
  • Inadequate control of symptoms other than pain (or concern): 46.0%
  • Perceived burden on family, friends or caregivers: 35.7%
  • Loss of control of bodily functions: 33.8%
  • Isolation or loneliness: 17.3%
  • Emotional distress / anxiety / fear / existential suffering: 3.0%
  • No / poor / loss of quality of life: 2.8%
  • Loss of control / autonomy / independence: 1.7%
  • Other: 0.7%

A Canadian Medical Association Journal report from 2017 detailed how MAiD could reduce annual health-care spending across the country by between $34.7 million and $136.8 million. They’re not there yet; a 2020 report from Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Office estimated savings at $87 million – a fraction of Canada’s $264 billion healthcare costs that year.

I’ve been unable to find any estimates on savings in social safety net programs, such as for the Canada Pension Plan, which administers the country’s disability benefit. But even if all 10,064 individuals who ended their lives through MAiD in 2021 were on disability and receiving the maximum monthly payment of $1,685 in Alberta, that’s $203 million out of $4.6 billion in disability payments.

It is strange that despite urgings from numerous concerned groups across Canada, such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, more protective measures haven’t been put in place.

But if one remembers the rules of neoliberalism it begins to make more sense. Demonstrated here by the Associated Press:

Roger Foley, who has a degenerative brain disorder and is hospitalized in London, Ontario, was so alarmed by staffers mentioning euthanasia that he began secretly recording some of their conversations.

In one recording obtained by the AP, the hospital’s director of ethics told Foley that for him to remain in the hospital, it would cost “north of $1,500 a day.” Foley replied that mentioning fees felt like coercion and asked what plan there was for his long-term care.

“Roger, this is not my show,” the ethicist responded. “My piece of this was to talk to you, (to see) if you had an interest in assisted dying.”

Foley said he had never previously mentioned euthanasia. The hospital says there is no prohibition on staff raising the issue.

Take the following case of Les Landry who used to work as a truck driver before he developed a hernia, and his health went downhill from there. It’s a similar story to many a worker in the US, but while here they’d be left to turn to fentanyl, die on the street, or maybe thrown in jail for the crime of being homeless, in Canada the state will show them mercy.

Again from the Global News:

Today, the Medicine Hat, Alta., man is in a wheelchair and has severe chronic pain. But that’s not why he’s planning to apply for MAiD.

“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,” he says.

Landry got by for years — just barely — on disability payments of $1,685 and timely donations solicited on Twitter. He also received a few extra benefits available under Alberta’s disability program — only a few hundred dollars extra, but it allowed him to budget and get ahead on his bills. Then, he turned 65, and through a bureaucratic loophole, actually lost benefits.

“What I lost is the disability benefits — service dog allowance, special diet allowance, transportation allowance,” he says. “I am no longer a person with a disability. I’m a senior citizen in poverty.”

He worries that with the loss of income and rising prices, he may soon be homeless. He’s making plans to end his life before that happens.

“I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. I just can’t see me living like this for the rest of my life.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Henry Moon Pie

    Note that the “role” of the St. Catherine’s homeless man has already been played by Edward G. Robinson. The only thing missing is a Soylent Green factory to complete the loop.

    I would never want to deny a suffering person’s right to end their suffering, but our Wonderful World of Capitalism has made life so bad for some otherwise healthy people that their suffering seems unbearable to them. That’s a sick society.

    1. Cocomaan

      The fact is that most people can easily do it themselves without the state being involved. Inviting the state into euthanasia is asking for trouble

      1. clarky90

        Aktion T4 the Nazi euthanasia programme that killed 300,000

        “The first to die was a five-month-old baby boy called Gerhard Kretschmar. Gerhard’s father, Richard Kretschmar, considered his severely disabled child to be a ‘monster’, and he soon approached his local physician with the request that the baby be ‘put to sleep’ for his own good. After the doctor refused, Kretschmar wrote directly to Adolf Hitler, asking the Führer to overrule the doctor.

        Hitler, who had long been in favour of ‘mercy killing’ the severely disabled, dispatched his personal physician, Karl Brandt, to the village of Pommsen near Leipzig………

        … the child was killed, probably by lethal injection on the 25th of July 1939. His death would mark the start of one of the most hideous programmes of the Second World War – the mass murder of the mentally ill and the physically disabled throughout Germany and some of its occupied territories. The programme would come to be known as Aktion T4.

        1. clarky90

          The organized euthanasia of the physically and mentally disabled, began in 1939 at The Hadamar Institute, (a psychiatric hospital). Hadamar became a prototype (experimental) camp, and a training ground of personnel, for what was to follow…..

          So, welcoming “voluntary euthanasia” into our current society, is fraught with danger…..

          The Hadamar Institute

          “……..The Hadamar “sluice” became model for the “sluices” or “tubes”, later used in the extermination camps of Aktion Reinhard. Approximately 100 victims were killed every day, lasting until August 1941.

          By 24 August 1941 the killing at Hadamar was stopped on Hitler’s orders. The installations in the cellar were dismantled and other rooms converted back to sickrooms. The surplus staff were ordered to the East to use their “knowledge” at the newly established extermination camps.
          During the second phase of the euthanasia program, the killing at Hadamar started again. Now the victims were killed by lethal injections….”

      2. Clint Olsen Wright

        Do the research; it’s not easy to kill yourself. There are high odds you won’t be successful causing your situation to be made many times worse.

      3. UserFriendly

        Respectfully, you don’t know what you are talking about. Desperately wanting to die and having the ability to do so are completely different things. You could be too weak, immobilized, or even just scared to do it by yourself instead of surrounded by loved ones. Even so much as talking about it with loved ones risks getting them charged with murder.

        This article makes me see red. Yeah, it is awful that some people want to kill themselves because of poverty. Fix the poverty then. But why would we do that when we can just eliminate the entirely unrelated, completely deserved, right of people who are suffering to end their suffering? If anyone disagrees with me, read this first: Two Arms and a Head.

  2. Anonymous

    I live in the US. I am poor, have a serious chronic illness and am unable to work, but could live for many more years, albeit not well. I was put on palliative care recently. My palliative care doctor told me to go home, stop all intake of food or water and die. That is the ‘care plan’ I was given. No other help or support was offered. I was alone in the office when the doctor told me to go home and die. I may be poor, I may be sick, but I am still a human being worthy of a life. It has been a devastating experience to be told by a doctor to “go die”. He was smiling when he said this.

      1. kam

        My 94 year old Mother, going blind, and barely unable to walk with a walker, has chosen to have her doctor end her life this month.
        My 81 year old Mother-in-law had a 2nd stroke in 2015 and explicitly told her daughters she did not want to live. So the doctors stopped feeding her via tube, and since that seemed to slow for the doctors, they stopped all her fluids, so she died of thirst.
        Canada polishes the long tarnished image of a caring society, but the fact is Canada is built for the Royalty at the top and when you are not a member of a select political group, the government will step in and kill you. And not with kindness.

        1. Soredemos

          I’m not sure how point three flows from the first two. The first case seems like an entirely reasonable case for euthanasia. Case two seems like a reasonable candidate for it, but wasn’t so they just got to the same place via a more miserable road.

    1. flora

      Double-OMG! That doctor is no doubt billing an insurance company or Medicaid or Medicare in the US for providing palliative care to you – which he is not doing. This, imo, is fraud. (To say nothing of the fraud calling himself a doctor.)

    2. roxan

      Are you elderly? I’ve seen that method used in nursing homes, now and then. Not often, as it puts the nurses in an impossible bind. One place I worked, a blind disabled old lady who was depressed opted for that, but the nurses refused and got a court to stop it. She was put on anti-depressants, and given the care she had lacked at home. In a few months, she perked up and fell in love with another patient. So, at least, one happy ending!

      1. Anonymous

        No, I am middle aged. The palliative care I am on claims to provide medical, psychological and spiritual comfort and help to patients with chronic illnesses, expected to lead to death eventually but not within 6 months (that would be hospice care). It is supposed to be a holistic approach. That is the way it is advertised in glossy brochures showing its ‘caring team’ (yes, it takes Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance). But for me it has offered none of that. I was told to go home and die by the doctor. I asked to see (or speak to) a social worker and a chaplain (they claim to have them available) but that has not happened. I have seen only the one doctor. The palliative care is part of a large hospital system.

        1. Janie

          In the midst of all the distressing news, this is the most distressing of all. So saddening, so maddening. I do hope you can find the help you need.


      come to brazil the last thing you will hear is ‘die now’. here there are hugs, affection and people care about each other. don’t listen to what the news says about violence, because brazil is not just rio de janeiro. there are more than 2,500 brazilian cities with lower violence rates than europe, all of them in the interior of brazil. escape the coast. come to the interior of brazil and be happy. you are very important to us.

    4. spud

      a brutal viscous idiotology got its feverish grip on america and the world in 1993. it produces massive inequality, and massive riches for the few.

      the few view this as the natural order of things. that is why the draconian jim crow laws and other laws came from the clinton regime that helped cement this idiotology on the world.

      so like the last time this was tried in the mid 1930’s-1945, it went from trying to drive out the deplorable that were viewed as parasites by jailing them to driving out the homeless into the woods to die, to lets encourage them to off themselves, and gas chambers will not to to far behind.

      so as free trade collapses, expect further intensification of examples like this.

      it will be embraced on the view, madow will explain its the natural humane thing to do.

      milano, messing and middler will volunteer to help these people off themselves, after all, its the moral thing to do.

      sir james goldsmith warned us.

  3. flora

    Thanks for this post.

    Now comes this:

    Proponents of linking organ harvesting to euthanasia point to the shortage of organ transplants readily available and the lower cost associated with euthanasia than with end-of-life care.
    Canadian ethicists Julie Allard and Marie-Chantal Fortin encouraged the joining of euthanasia with organ harvesting in an article in December’s Journal of Medical Ethics.

    Canada harvesting the organs of euthanasia patients

    Soylent Green ($) –

    1. LawnDart

      Ha! Grate minds think alike! So logic devoid of morality is ethics? And here I am the fool for thinking that led to sociopathy…

    2. The Rev Kev

      Modern medicine is not really covering themselves with glory here – or the past few years for that matter. By the time this all plays out, the only thing that will be wasted from those euthanized patients will be their last goodbye.

    3. Kouros

      That is not true. Due to the mortality tsunami caused by the opioid crisis, Canada is awash with organs. And what governments do? Cut funding for harvesting and dealing with the situation. A guy that I worked for, prof at a university described a s such the situation his wife, an eminent cardiologist, was in.

      1. anarchaeopteryx

        I won’t get into my personal situation because it will just make me too angry, but I wanted to point out one thing: if you are actively suicidal and tell a doctor you are going to kill yourself, you can and will get a visit from the cops to haul you off to the nearest psych ward for “involuntary admission”. This is the nightmare of everyone I know who has mental health issues deemed “dangerous”. Once you are admitted, you are only allowed out if you do what you are told, basically an abuse and trauma factory. But! If the doctor is the one who suggests suicide you fill out a form and it’s all good to go 90 days later.

    4. jrkrideau

      Oh for Heaven’s sake read the article. IIRC, in Ontario anyone with a driver’s licence has volunteered to donate organs unless they explicitly opt out of the program. Moral of the story, “Don’t drive in Ontario”.

      1. cnchal

        “Ethicists” are calling for the harvesting of organs of destitute people looking for a way out of their financial misery.

        Moral of the story is there are no morals or ethics. It has nothing to do with “don’t drive in Ontario”.

        I have no doubt that that these two are in the Sunshine club with their bullshit jawbs.

  4. LawnDart

    At least Canada is offering a realistic way out of poverty: in USA, you need to hoist yourself up by your own necktie, as good boots/bootstraps almost never make it to the poverty bin, and suicide is still mostly illegal.

    Those who’ve never known poverty are great for advice on how to overcome the condition, or, if nothing else, their insight that poverty is good because “it builds character” (although in my experience, just the opposite is true).

    Killing the poor is one way to remove the blemishes from our otherwise perfect Western societies, and Canada seems to be enjoying the successes of following this to the logical conclusion.

    I do, however, think USA social policy is much more enlightened: the poor are useful vehicles to deliver funding and jobs, as a warm-body in jail is worth an easy $40k a year, not to mention that this fact alone goes far in supporting our existing social order. I suppose an argument can be made that some money can be recovered from parting-out the euthanized– kidneys, retinas, and such, (if salvagable) as a means of recouping otherwise failed investments of turning children into productive members of society.

    Soylent Green does seem to have its merits too: we live in yesterday’s future where quite often the unimaginable or fictional has become reality.


  5. flora

    Here’s a recent story from the Daily Mail.

    Disabled Canadian Army veteran Paralympian blasts government for offering to EUTHANIZE her when she complained about how long it was taking to install stairlift at her home

    After years of frustrating delays in getting the home lift, Gauthier says the caseworker told her: ‘Madam, if you are really so desperate, we can give you medical assistance in dying now.’

    1. CanCyn

      There has been some investigation into this story. The gov is of course claiming aghastitude and isolated incident, one bad employee. Knowing what we know about MAID, I am doubtful of those claims.

      1. jrkrideau

        Knowing what I do about Veterans Affairs, I am slightly doubtful but willing to believe one or two counselors could be that dumb.

  6. Stephen Best

    How, I wonder, would reforming or eliminating MAiD alleviate any of the poverty and disability issues itemized above?

    1. flora

      Maybe death shouldn’t be offered instead of help for living.

      It’s one thing for someone to decide on their own that is an option they want and then request. It’s very much a different thing for the medical establishment to make the suggestion, make the offer first and apparently even encourage that choice.

      (An aside: There’s a huge black market for organ donations. Illegal, but thriving, and very very profitable. Because markets…)

      1. TimH

        In UK, organ donation is now not only opt-out, but your nearest and dearest can countermand your wishes once you’ve popped your clogs.

        Open for abuse by design…

  7. David B

    As a healthcare practitioner I think that it is cruel not to offer patients the choice of when and how to end their life. Many people carry out suicides without medical assistance……you could view this program as harm reduction. Full chances of success. Contact with the healthcare system to check for options (treatment options, assessment for untapped supports, etc).

    There has been a lot of push back against medical assistance in dying ever since it was proposed. I do wonder if this is finally the successful rallying point for those against the program for other reasons. There suddenly seems to be a wave of this reporting and it’s a bit breathless. I do wonder about personal bias (priors) when patients first hear about the option…….how many presented with this as an option for homicide rather than a presentation of an option available?

    The major problem with articles about patient care decisions is that, for confidentiality reasons, the healthcare side of things can’t really reply with specifics or nuance. Their blanket statements end up reading as denials. Certainly there are also practicioners whose bedside manner is……unrefined. could there be individuals mishandling the sensitive topic when they bring it up with patients? Guaranteed there is and this creates additional distaste for an already stigmatized topic.

    I absolutely support increasing social benefits. Canada should never have left the public housing game in the 70s. I do strongly feel that a program like this should be available and accessible to those who want it.

    1. tegnost

      it may be just me, but your caveat at the end (I absolutely support increasing social benefits. Canada should never have left the public housing game) seems to imply that the suicide option is for poor people.
      I contend without humility, this $h!t$how can’t crash fast enough, IMO

    2. cnchal

      It seems “health care practitioner” has lost it’s meaning. The education complex ought to be razed to the ground.

      Proudly, in Canada the poor are asked, “would you like suicide along with the fries?”

      In the mean time, gobs of money are wasted on military death machines, completing the circle.

      1. Mildred Montana

        Sorry cnchal, I “lost your meaning”. What does anything you say have to do with the serious—the existential—issue of medically-assisted suicide?

        1. cnchal

          There are people that not even close to the end of their lives and “health care practitioners” are offering government assisted suicide for economic reasons.

          Those doing the offering all went through the higher education system, and we are on the slipperiest slope possible. How soon before the smartest impose a lifetime limit on their lessers.

  8. jefemt

    Quite an article and batch of comments so far.

    Might it also be that allowing and in a caring way enable folks to choose to opt out might gift tacit recognition that life in the early anthropocene is not universally nearly as great as Madison Avenue and TPTB make it out to be?

    And, even a life well-lived in relative material comfort and lack of want– longevity and the quality of life relative to the ‘standard’ we have been sold and expect is certainly not nearly all it is cracked up to be.

  9. TimH

    As a healthcare practitioner I think that it is cruel not to offer patients the choice of when and how to end their life.

    The point been made repeatedly is that the choice being given is either a long wait to get appropriate care, or an instant end to it all. The cruelty is putting people in that position.

  10. Cetra Ess

    We as a society are still using the medical model of disability which posits that a disability is something “broken” about a person, is an illness to be treated and fixed. We need to adopt the social model of disability where it is society which creates the disability by setting up circumstances for failure, is something broken about society, and there would not be disability otherwise.

    Start with some of the facts outlined in the article – that 30% are chronically unemployed. In order to get a disability pension in Canada you must prove you’re unable to work because of your disability. A doctor (note the medical model) must sign a form saying so. Yet, many doctors are convinced if you have a disability you can overcome anything with the right perseverence, disability is a brave struggle to overcome, just follow your dreams – so many doctors won’t sign the form. This is also the general sentiment of society. However, this belief slams very hard into the reality that no, unless we time warp to a Star Trek universe there is much that cannot be overcome, not just physical realities but also social stigma around disability, which contributes to people with disabilities being unable to perform a huge range of jobs, even if they’re able to do the actual work.

    I think every person with a disability has a lifetime of broken dreams on account of it, no wonder it’s depressing, but imagine how much more so when society doesn’t acknowledge your reality and is set up with the medical model of disability.

    By the way, a disability pension in Canada averages to $1053/mo. This is far, far below the poverty line of $37,542/yr for two adults. And if by some miracle you manage to get a doctor to fill a form saying you’re disabled, then if you do any form of work at all you automatically disqualify yourself as disabled, it is deducted from that pension.

    So although I support the idea of assisted and dignified suicide, I think that, yes, Canada is killing people, first by setting them up for failure, then also leaving no other way out.

  11. Mildred Montana

    Excellent post Conor. Thank you. The issue of medically-assisted death is one that needs serious discussion and will become even more important in a few years as boomers (I’m one) enter the perilous ninth-decade of their lives.

    Many of the diseases of the elderly (and some of the younger) are chronic and/or degenerative, incurable and sometimes untreatable. The sad fact is that “appropriate care” (as TimH says above) in the face of intractable illness can usually only be palliative and nothing more. And so, sensibly imo, those afflicted look to MAID as a solution. Note the top reasons people give for choosing it. They all, by huge percentages, relate to their lack of physical well-being:

    Loss of ability to engage in meaningful activities: 86.3%
    Loss of ability to perform activities of daily living: 83.4%
    Inadequate control of pain (or concern): 57.6%
    Loss of dignity: 54.3%
    Inadequate control of symptoms other than pain (or concern): 46.0%

    If one is in such a hopeless situation, why shouldn’t MAID be available to help one end one’s suffering comfortably? One thing is for certain: It would reduce the estimated 500,000 emergency visits every year in the US that were the result of self-inflicted injuries.

    I admit there are pitfalls associated with any program of this sort and they are mentioned in the article: The assisted suicides that might stem only from mental illness, financial desperation, temporary “unhappiness”, etc. But let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    1. eg

      Yeah, I’m with you on this — while I appreciate the importance of ensuring that this program is not abused, I equally won’t appreciate it if some self-important good-thinkers render it impossible to access should the time come when I find myself in need of a dignified exit.

      1. Keith Newman

        @Mildred12:02 and eg 3:56
        I’m totally with you on this.
        I am from Canada and just turned 70. I have no health complaints and have a good income. Nonetheless I find it reassuring that should my life become unbearable some time in the future I’ll be able to end it with close family and friends by my side at a time of my choosing. And I won’t have to wait until I have suffered for years and my doctor guesses I am 6 months away from death. I certainly don’t want someone telling me I need to suffer for a few more years.
        With respect to people being pushed into MAiD due to inadequate supports of all kinds, this is wrong, obviously. Getting those missing supports requires sustained political mobilisation and action. These are not easy to achieve.
        I have been involved in the struggle to add prescription drugs to our public healthcare system for 17 years in conjunction with unions, retirees, doctors, university profs and others in a large coalition of like-minded people across the country. 85% of Canadians support it yet it still hasn’t been introduced because Big Pharma, Big Insurance and pharmacies are opposed. Big Media is not supportive either.
        So I have question for the media re their sudden concern for people being improperly being pushed into MAiD: where were you when disability rights groups and various others were asking for increased support? Were you pumping up the “Omigod this means taxes will increase” Conservative crowd? Or the “Omigod some people could abuse the system” Conservative crowd? Or were you focusing on the suffering of people and how unfair it was? And how heartless the Conservative propaganda was?

  12. Sue inSoCal

    This came up a few weeks ago. I’d noted a few cases in Toronto where just simple pain relief was necessary. Death was offered instead. I posted the links. That, in my humble opinion, is vile beyond words. It’s as though the globe has gone crazy. I recall a woman responding “this is not my Canada.” It sounds like the old trope about America when we do insane sh!t: “this is not who we are”. Well, yeah, it is.

    1. flora

      Maybe it’s who the PMC class is. Spreadsheets uber alles. (Remembering then NY gov Cuomo let hospitals send c19 infected seniors to nursing homes to essentially infect the whole senior populations living there, and Cuomo made sure the nursing home owners/operators would not be held liable for creating an unsafe living environment.)

    2. Sunny

      Everything is backwards, everything is upside down.
      Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.
      How are we to escape from this?

  13. Reify99

    A friend of ours recently completed suicide after 6 months of intractable pain and little sleep due to a gastroparesis (loss of motility)that was not adequately diagnosed, let alone treated. To clarify, euthanasia was not offered. Her illness was acute, not chronic.
    Prior to this she had been a fit 70 yr old with a comfortable retirement ahead of her. No, it was the medical system that failed her, with creaking months long delays between tests, and with yet another physician stuck in his algorithm.
    Her pain was untreated.
    She decided she was incurable.

    Had something like the MAID program existed in the USA she might have jumped at it.

    What gets me is the quiet way we are accepting eugenics, drip by drip.
    In this case, Eugenics via neglect.

    And I say that having had a stint as a hospice nurse back in the day.
    This is not that.

  14. Mildred Montana

    Euthanasia has been around longer than commenters might suspect. About thirty years ago I asked my doctor father if he had ever given a terminal patient more morphine than he knew was safe. He only nodded in the affirmative. To him, the highest good was pain relief.

  15. Kouros

    I worked on drafting the first MAiD database in my province. And I had a close friend who worked for Vital Statistics Agency. You know, births and deaths – lots of death certificate.

    What is happening is that there is absolutely no oversight. Governments in Canada are loath to do any oversight on anything (at most only on their own workforce, to not get too uppity) and as such mayhem, abuse, chaos, and death ensues.

    Canada also seems to have imported the largest number of Ebenezer Scrooges from the old Metropolis. And they all ended up as politicians or high level bureaucrats.

    But all is good, we are going through higher and higher peaks of immigration! Shanghaiing the best and the brightest from the developing countries. I hope people will start to reconsider when looking for the average housing price in Canada.

    I heard this morning on the radio that on average Canadians owe $1.86 CAD for every dollar they earn…

    Another story not popularized was that of a young women in Vancouver, with eating disorders that, due to connections of her father (some prosecutor) managed to put the girl on MAiD.

    My VSA friend was saying that it is the best time to off your old relatives, because nobody is looking. One doesn’t even need MAiD for that.

  16. Deschutes

    Having lived in Canada for 3 horrible–extremely expensive years–before thankfully getting out of that hole, this MAiD legislation really reflects the hyper-crapitalist rat race that Canada has become. Both Americans and Europeans generally have this fantasy notion of Canada (which is a result of their marketing to lure in immigrants), you know, the do-gooder country of mountains and forests and nature, etc. Cynically left out of this marketing to attract immigrants are the brutal facts of everything being twice as expensive as in USA; compounded by one of the worst job markets in the western world. In Vancouver many of my neighbors had both a day job and a night job, just to keep their heads above water the cost of living was so high. Neighbors in my apartment building in Vancouver all took the same type of holiday: they would go to Seattle for a week, and just buy every type of food/drink/etc they could pack into their SUV or car–a massive shopping spree–and haul it back home. Everything, everything cost 50% less in Seattle. Why throw your money away, right? One wonders with this promoted Canadian medical euthanasia, what happened to the famous “socialized medicine” that Canadians always crow about, their system so much better than USA’s? In BC you had a pay scale, so even though cheaper than privatized healthcare in USA, you still had to pay monthly premiums. And they have long wait lists, going over a year for non-urgent procedures. All things considered I think Canada sucks from my personal experience there, and this just reinforces my impression. What is ‘do-gooder’ about urging people to euthanize themselves because they can’t be a profitable cog in the Canadian capitalist machine? Just awful.

    1. Mildred Montana

      >”In BC you had a pay scale, so even though cheaper than privatized healthcare in USA, you still had to pay monthly premiums.”

      Premiums in BC have been eliminated. So healthcare is free. Free that is, if you happen to have a family doctor and can tolerate hours-long waits for surgery, ambulances, emergency room care, test results, etc. What you save in money you pay in time.

      On the positive side, Covid and flu vaccines are readily available at our pharmacies. You can get the HPV vaccine too! And, if what I hear is correct, you can even have your local pharmacist inject your wrinkles with Botox.

      Just don’t try to get a prescription you’ve used for years refilled without a doctor’s prescription. No, no, no, that won’t do, gotta see the family doctor you don’t have for that.

      1. Kouros

        If you have a family doctor you make appointments so wait time is function of doctor availability, but you don’t wait for hours in the office.

        You don’t wait hours for surgeries, you wait months to see a specialist and then more months to get the surgery.

        Ambulance wait is not that long. the crunch time during the heat dome was exceptional and was also partially caused by very incompetent and reactive management.

        Lab analysis is done by private company and one can book appointments. Results are available the same day or next day. Digital imaging is different except of course good old x-rays).

        ED wait is also a sour point.

        But if it is a real emergency, they can usually fix you and give you great care.

    2. CanCyn

      While there is nothing defensible in this post and I am all too aware of the problems with our so called social system, I wonder when you lived when you were here? I recently moved from the Greater Toronto area to eastern Ontario and truly feel that we’ve left the craptastic rat race behind. While we have our share of truck drivin’, gun totin’ right wingers, I do feel that in general we’ve found a kinder gentler place. I think the bean counting, money first PMCers are mostly in the cities.
      Adding, I guess Canada is a bit like the Democrats – hiding our evil and pretending to do good.

      1. C.O.

        And Canada’s larger cities have utterly demented costs of living – and a concentration of the service points for paperwork that immigrants need to deal with in person, plus often important support systems provided by expatriate communities. It’s a real double bind, my colleagues from other countries have commented on it often.

  17. CanCyn

    Have started a reply a couple of times but find this whole topic so heartbreaking it is difficult to reply. Before medically assisted death was legal in Canada, I watched first my father-in-law (stage 4 metastasized lung cancer) then my Dad (2nd debilitating stroke) more or less starved to death while on morphine to ease their pain. Both made it clear that death was their choice. The experiences made me a firm believer in a quick end when it is a person’s choice. Euthanizing the poor or offering death as a solution to poverty is something that should only happen in a dystopian novel. Canada’s social safety net has deteriorated to a point where we can really no longer call it such. In Ontario, the paperwork and obstacles to getting assistance are clearly designed to discourage applicants. You should have seen what we had to do to get my Dad a wheelchair after his first stroke. It is hard to be hopeful but I do dream of a world where deaths of despair are only fiction and one in which people have a basic income and some kind of meaningful employment should they choose it.

  18. JBird4049

    >>>His application for euthanasia listed only one health condition as the reason for his request to die: hearing loss.

    What the flying frakkening frack is this? Just giving a halfway decent pair of hearing aids to someone will take care of that most of the time although some extra help with an audiologist is always very useful. Let’s save $3,500 for the aids and their fitting by murdering someone. (Okay, it might have to be re-done every three to five years, but still.)

  19. disc_writes

    In the Netherlands, euthanasia is limited to some clearly defined cases of extreme suffering. But one of the reasons I moved here (from Italy) in 2007 is that I expected ethanasia to be extended eventually to those who just want some help with dying.

    I follow the Dutch organization NVVE that promotes just that. There is also a draft law to allow euthanasia for those above 75 years of age. I expect that the law will pass before I reach that age. So this would be my retirement plan.

    As the family fades as an institution, you cannot expect your children to look after you. And I seriously doubt that the pension I am promised today will ever be paid out.

    In the future there will be plenty of poor to be euthanized, and, if we are to believe the organization-that-must-not-be-named, a rich minority that will never die. Canada is just a step further, the other countries will follow.

  20. Ana B

    I mean, the US alternative approach is to just let disabled people die in miserable poverty, incarcerated or homeless or warehoused in institutions. Or to force us through the messy and usually very painful process of trying to take our own lives (or getting murdered for that matter). As a disabled person I would gladly take the peaceful, largely painless death available in Canada over what this godawful failed state has in store for me and others like me.

  21. Lorna

    My 86 year old mother took advantage of MAID, despite not being terribly ill, but it was the right decision for her that she made quite happily and with full mental capacity. I am glad for her she had that option.

  22. John Gilberts

    What a great piece. The ‘nice Canada’ mythology has long served to mask its darker realities from view both inside and outside the country. Terrible things have and continue to go on here with little public outcry.

    As just one example, Canada’s systematic Indigenous genocide was accomplished not by military means but kidnapping and ‘killing the Indian in the child’ via barbaric government/church run ‘residential schools’ across the country.

    ‘Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian that has not been absorbed into the body politic of Canada,’ said Duncan Campbell Scott, an Indian Affairs official and a ‘poet laureate’ of Canada. Like the ‘good Germans’, Canadians knew but few objected and so the system continued until the early 80s. Now ground penetrating radar continues to reveal many of those dead and kidnapped kids apparently lie in unreported, unmarked graves.

    With regard to the growing MAID euthanasia program and poverty-stricken victims coerced or ‘persuaded’ to participate, there is a similar averting of the eyes by the fake progressive bourgeois Canadian liberal lefties, who if nothing else, are world-champion virtue signalers, even while Canadian ‘friendly fascism’ perfects itself day by day all around them.

    Perhaps, since arguably they have no hearts to move, their international embarrassment instead may help prod them into action to mitigate the barbarity of the present unacceptable situation. Let’s hope so. This article was an excellent start. Thanks again.

  23. Col 'Sandy' Volestrangler (ret)

    Read: The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers- written in the fin de siecle. Very prophetic.

  24. LawnDart

    NC being NC, how the heck did this classic not make this thread?

    Kill The Poor
    Dead Kennedys

    Efficiency and progress is ours once more
    Now that we have the neutron bomb
    It’s nice and quick and clean and gets things done
    Away with excess enemy
    But no less value to property
    No sense in war but perfect sense at home

    The sun beams down on a brand new day
    No more welfare tax to pay
    Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
    Jobless millions whisked away
    At last we have more room to play
    All systems go to kill the poor tonight

    Gonna kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor
    Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor
    Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor tonight

    Behold the sparkly of champagne
    The crime rate’s gone, feel free again
    Oh life’s a dream with you, Miss Lily White
    Jane Fonda on the screen today
    Convinced the liberals it’s okay
    So let’s get dressed and dance away the night…

  25. anarchaeopteryx

    I won’t get into my personal situation because it will just make me too angry, but I wanted to point out one thing: if you are actively suicidal and tell a doctor you are going to kill yourself, you can and will get a visit from the cops to haul you off to the nearest psych ward for “involuntary admission”. This is the nightmare of everyone I know who has mental health issues deemed “dangerous”. Once you are admitted, you are only allowed out if you do what you are told, basically an abuse and trauma factory. But! If the doctor is the one who suggests suicide you fill out a form and it’s all good to go 90 days later.

  26. c kimball

    I have two poems written in 1991. I was fortunate to be with my mother during her process of dying….. I share them in response to our concerns about possibly the fulfillment of our humanity.
    “The Caretaker” (I rejected the term)
    the days drift by full
    anxiety is a hovering presence
    my mother’s dwindling energy
    what next uncomfortable thing
    can happen
    tired again
    time is swallowed up
    ministering to the last of
    spent life
    the cut flowers at first
    are brought in and arranged
    in a vase with fresh water
    then as time passes
    the flowers change
    and the concern I notice is
    that I accommodate the change
    cut the stems
    change the water
    take away the blooms
    that have finished
    to make the best space for
    the next buds to bloom
    as if the urgency
    that each bit of life has
    space to bloom its intention
    until there are no more
    on the stem

Comments are closed.