A recent poll reveals Canadians are concerned about the expansion of a federal medically-assisted dying bill. The legislation, referred to as Bill C-7, was reintroduced in October and calls for the removal of “the requirement for a person’s natural death to be reasonably foreseeable in order to be eligible for MAiD (medical assistance in dying).” Additionally, as required by a Quebec court ruling, the bill would “exclude eligibility for individuals suffering solely from mental illness.”
Cardus, a faith-based and non-partisan think tank headquartered in Hamilton, Canada, commissioned the Angus Reid poll, which reported several findings among Canadians revealing concern over any expansion of MAiD. Though the poll reported 77% of Canadians support MAiD as a basic human right, further probing revealed hesitancy and opposition to certain applications of MAiD. For instance, 69% expressed worry that expansion of MAiD could encourage people suffering with mental health concerns (such as depression and thoughts of suicide) to elect medically-assisted death over addressing the underlying causes of their mental health issues.
Also, even though 77% were in favor of MAiD, only 33% of Canadians said they were “enthusiastic supporters.” Almost half, 48%, called themselves “cautious supporters” over concerns regarding how Bill C-7 might negatively impact aging and vulnerable Canadians, as well as the integrity of the health care system at large. Interestingly, nearly 20% reported they were “opposed” to MAiD and physician-assisted suicide.
Those in favor of MAiD reported heavily from Quebec, one of Canada’s major cities. Over two-thirds of Canadians expressed that concerns raised by the United Nations in 2019 ought to be given more attention, including Canada’s lack of protections for disabled citizens. Again over two-thirds affirmed that Canada’s lawmakers ought to seriously consider the possibility that practices like MAiD and policies like Bill C-7 may encourage those suffering with mental health issues to choose death over treatment.
Canada’s government website argues that Bill C-7 “would exclude individuals whose sole medical condition is a mental illness ” and a person must have a “serious and incurable illness, disease or disability.” However, in October, the Canadian government cited a report arguing perhaps the real reason for pushing Bill C-7 and the expansion of medically-assisted death for its citizens is because assisted suicide lowers healthcare costs for the “provincial governments.”
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