Sunday, February 26, 2023

Government euthanasia committee ignored disability rights group concerns.

By James Schadenberg

On February 16, the disability rights group Inclusion Canada released a press
statement in response to the final report of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (AMAD). This press release, titled Surprise, Surprise – Harmful Committee Work leads to Harmful Report on MAiD (Link), claims that AMAD did not merely ignore people with disabilities and their allies but that they were disrespected and, in some cases, denied requested accommodations to deliver their testimony.

As Inclusion Canada’s press statement begins:

Inclusion Canada has received and reviewed the final report of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (AMAD). It can’t be sugar coated – people with disabilities and their allies were ignored. We asked for equality-preserving changes to the law; MPs and Senators decided they knew better.

This isn’t surprising. People with disabilities were disrespected by committee members. Their lived experience was discredited and dismissed. Many were also denied requested accommodations to deliver their testimony.

Their press statement includes a video to illustrate this point, titled AMAD Responds to Disability Advocates (Link).  

In this video, multiple people with disabilities and people representing those with disabilities explain how euthanasia expansion has harmed those who live with physical and intellectual disabilities, as well as their families and communities. The video then shows Senators and MPs dismissing these concerns, calling them a “moral panic” and “intellectually incoherent” and stating that some witnesses are not “qualified to comment on this.” A clip shows a Liberal MP trying to rush the testimony of a witness. A clip shows a witness stating outright that “there is no evidence that vulnerable people are at risk for MAiD” despite well-documented evidence to the contrary (the names of some of these victims are mentioned at the end of the video).

The press release continues, stating that it’s unsurprising that this committee process resulted in a discriminatory report. As the press release states:
The committee’s final report is a discriminatory disaster.

“It is clear that the members of the AMAD committee made up their mind about expanding MAiD before consulting with the disability community,” says Krista Carr, Executive Vice President of Inclusion Canada, “Committee members failed to heed the numerous warnings and concerns raised by people with disabilities and their allies.”

Minister of Justice David Lametti’s decision to delay the expansion of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) for people with mental illness does not go far enough. The sunset clause must be removed indefinitely and we demand the government roll back the expansion of assisted dying on the basis of disability. Bill C-7 must be repealed.

“Sadly, these recommendations aren’t surprising coming out of this committee process,” says Robin Acton, President of Inclusion Canada, “This report, if implemented, makes people with disabilities even more vulnerable to state-assisted death. This report suggests expanding MAiD to mature minors and by advanced requests, both of which will put people with intellectual disabilities at even greater risk.”
Disability rights organizations are right to call the government out for putting people with disabilities at risk. Canada’s MAiD law has resulted in vulnerable people, many of whom have disabilities or live in poverty, dying by MAiD when they could've otherwise lived if given the proper support.

The press release concludes:
You need look no further than the video above to see how persons with disabilities were treated in this process. We encourage you to reflect on the conduct of Parliamentarians and how the voices of the disability community have been silenced. This committee’s recommendations do not reflect the voices of the very people track two MAiD targets. People with disabilities deserve better.

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