“If you’re poor, the Canadian state pays for your suicide”. The hook has something to challenge the reader…except the truth is far from it. In an article published on June 11, the Canadian media Nouveau Monde assures us that the Canadian government voted in May to support euthanasia as a “way to fight against unsustainable poverty”. This, according to the author, is a “global depopulation plan” to kill people who no longer have a livelihood.
The article refers to several publications, including the article by Spectator written by Yuan Yi Zhu, a researcher from Oxford University. According to him, access to euthanasia will allow the government to save money on health care. He also added several examples involving the overuse of end-of-life medicine, especially among people living in poverty. “In Ontario, a woman was forced to euthanize because her housing benefits did not allow her to get a better home, which did not worsen her debilitating allergies”, quoted the researcher.
According to the latter, the new Canadian law – named C7 – is above all “a slippery slope”. Very quickly, the information was extended to other information sites, often linked to religion and strongly opposed to the question of the end of life. “Five years ago, it was hard to believe that a modern, civilized western country would allow people to commit physician-assisted suicide because they thought they lacked ‘dignity’. We are all created in the image of God , and therefore everyone has dignity and worth. Suicide is never an option, especially if it is fortunately paid for by the government”, can we read especially in the article of the site The Gateway Pundit, known for publishing the false information as well as conspiracy theories.
But what exactly does the C7 law say? Is Canada really allowing itself to eradicate poverty by encouraging them to euthanasia? 20 minutes shared with two lawyers, specialists in Canadian health law, about this “completely false” information.
To understand, we need to go back to the legalization of medical aid in dying (MAID) in Canada. It’s 2015 and the Carter case [du nom d’un des patients souhaitant mettre fin à ses jours après une maladie dégénérative] pushed the Supreme Court of Canada to change the country’s Criminal Code and outlaw the illegality of assisted suicide. “The Carter ruling renders this ban unconstitutional and opens the door to the management of assisted dying,” explained lawyer Me Patrick Martin-Ménard, in 20 minutes.
A few years ago, in 2019, justice questioned the idea of the end of life and its vague meaning. This is the Gladu-Truchon test, names of the complainants who do not have the correct MA response criteria. This time, the case makes it possible to invalidate the provisions of the Criminal Code that admit the conditions at the end of life. “The Supreme Court defined at that time what is a serious and unpleasant disease. But we did not use the term end of life, but “reasonably foreseeable death”, remembers the lawyer Jean-Philippe Le Roux, also co-prosecutor of the case. Finally, the Supreme Court ruled that the end-of-life criterion is unconstitutional and violates the freedom of people in a state of suffering. A new law should see the light of the sun and it is called C7.
“This new law creates a system where we allow access to medical assistance in dying for people who are at the end of their lives, but also for people who are not,” summarized the lawyer who Jean-François Le Roux. . The end of life is not only accessible to terminal illnesses, but also to terminal illnesses that are associated with an irreversible decrease in the patient’s capacities. “It remains marginal for people who have access to medical assistance in dying. The majority of cases remain cancers in the terminal stage,” admitted however the lawyer specialized in health. At the moment, the only subject mental health is excluded from the new law.
But back to the subject of poverty. Where does this idea come from that the Canadian government can put this law in order to solve the problem of poverty in the country? “There is a discourse that seems to be aimed at opponents of medical assistance in dying who will look for all kinds of stories to promote or distort them: it is nonsense”, considered Me Jean-François Red. “It’s not only inaccurate, it’s completely false,” added lawyer Patrick Martin-Ménard.
Consider the example previously cited by researcher Yuan Yi Zhu in an article in The Spectator. As we explained earlier, he claimed that in Ontario, a “woman was forced to euthanize because her housing benefits did not allow her to get a better place to live, which made it worse of his debilitating allergies” .
Poverty is not a measure, it is a disease
According to the CTV news channel, the woman actually has Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), a chronic condition that causes her to be allergic to her environment, including smells and chemicals. Unable to live in his home, he was forced to leave and was unable to find a healthier one, despite calls for help.
“Faced with a lack of medical solutions, the doctors who assessed him thought he qualified for medical assistance in dying,” recalled lawyer Patrick Martin-Ménard. Before adding: “Finally, extrapolating this story to say that medical assistance in dying is done as a solution to the fight against extreme poverty is false and in bad faith”. Contrary to the words of SpectatorMAID was offered to this patient because of his severe and irreversible illness, and not because of his lack of income.
Contrary to what the articles suggest, it is not so simple to receive medical assistance in dying in Canada. The request must be accepted by two different doctors and a period of 190 days must be respected between the request and the day of the injection, remembers the lawyer Jean-François Le Roux. “It is clear that social problems alone cannot provide access to medical assistance in dying,” concluded the specialist.