WARNING: THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS ABOUT MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IN DYING(MAID) MAY BE OFFENSIVE TO SOME. MY INTENTION IS NOT TO OFFEND, BUT TO INFORM THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO BECOME INFORMED.
The most compelling health legislation in this country – the Canada Health Act – was offered to Canadians in 1967. Highly regarded and anticipated by many and feared by others, MAID was offered to some Canadians in June, 2016 after direction from the Supreme Court of Canada a year and a half earlier. Unfortunately, MAID is a failure in design: it deliberately excludes many Canadians undertaking a grievous and hurtful existence leading to death – including all of us facing a future with dementia – from even consideration of MAID.
Some health practitioners and those employed by health facilities directed and supported by the Roman Catholic Church or other religious groups refuse to discuss MAID and its possible applicability to a patient’s medical condition. Some practitioners may refer a patient to another source of information, and even though it’s required by law, many simply do not refer. Sometimes, too, patients in remote areas are miles from alternative health resources and just as simply have no choice nor no access.
In my own case in London, Ontario – almost three years since passage – MAID is not available in one of our largest hospitals nor in some special living and palliative care facilities. For almost thirty years, I was supported by a Catholic family health clinic until I asked about MAID and requested a “Do Not Resuscitate Form” freely available from the government. I was offered outside counsel which was never effected and the form could not be produced even when I personally provided written instruction on how to obtain same. Two months later, while being interviewed for a CBC Radio broadcast on MAID, I learned that the medical staff – at a facility specializing in geriatric care and dementia assessment/counselling – are forbidden to inform, discuss or provide MAID.
I am alarmed and offended. These health practitioners and facilities and the legislative framers of MAID are deliberately setting aside their responsibilities as defined by the Supreme Court. Already, law suits are before lower courts at great cost for those undertaking the suits and at great cost to the tax payers who are paying to defend the indefensible.
This is why I’ve undertaken to write and inform others about MAID. Assisted dying is not for everyone, but the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that all Canadians – even those with dementia – should have the choice.