The Government of Canada is asking for public feedback on their plan to expand access to medically-assisted suicide. We encourage you to complete the government’s survey before it closes on Monday, January 27, 2020.
Last year, the Quebec Superior Court ruled it is unconstitutional to limit access to assisted suicide only to those with life-threatening illnesses. The federal government is planning to change assisted suicide legislation throughout the country in response to this ruling.
The federal government has previously stated it is interested in studying:
- Assisted suicide for non-imminent death: which would allow people with mental illness, for instance, to access assisted suicide.
- Advanced directives: which would allow individuals to authorize their hastened death after they have lost mental capacity.
The government’s survey is long, convoluted and doesn’t provide many opportunities to challenge the expansion of assisted suicide. It also assumes Canadians support assisted suicide. However, we strongly encourage you to fill it out before January 27.
The government needs to know that Canada’s 13 million Catholics oppose assisted suicide, in all its forms. We must do all that we can to protect those who are vulnerable should an expanded criteria be introduced.
In the survey, there are a few opportunities to provide additional comments. In those spaces, it would be helpful if you respectfully told the government, in your own words, that you oppose assisted suicide. In addition to the information noted below, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition provides guidance on a suggested approach to each question of the survey. You can find that resource here.
Your personal stories would be most helpful, but here are some arguments and facts that could help you make your point:
- Instead of expanding assisted suicide, let’s properly fund social services that will make life worth living: People at the end of their lives fear pain and loneliness. Palliative care addresses both those concerns. Yet only 30 per cent of Canadians have access to palliative care. In its 2017 budget, the federal government promised $6 billion for home care over 10 years, but where is that money? The government should give Canadians the opportunity to die comfortably in palliative care rather than choosing assisted suicide due to a lack of options.
- While we disagree with any form of assisted suicide, given the current law, assisted suicide should not be expanded to those without life-threatening illnesses: Mental illness can be one of the toughest challenges a person can face. Those challenges are made worse when you cannot find a mental health professional. Eighty-five per cent of Canadians think mental health services are among the most underfunded areas in the Canadian health care system. Again in the 2017 budget, the federal government promised $5 billion over 10 years for mental health services; but where is that money? Let’s help people with mental illness rather than encouraging them to consider assisted suicide.
- Advanced directives will lead to abuse: Advanced directives do not give a person the opportunity to change their mind about their death. Who knows if a person with dementia wants to die? But when someone else decides when a person dies, it opens the door to abuse (i.e. killing someone for their inheritance or because the sick person is considered an inconvenience).
- This is an insufficient consultation: Assisted suicide is literally a matter of life and death. Yet the government is only giving Canadians two weeks to complete a survey that assumes respondents support assisted suicide. Please tell the government it needs to better discuss this complicated issue with Canadians before it proceeds with legislation.
We thank you for your engagement and we ask you to continue to watch this file. The government is expected to start work on its five-year review of assisted suicide later this year, so there will be more work to be done to help the vulnerable. We pray for all those who are sick and suffering and those who care for them.