Saturday, March 4, 2023

Head of Canadian Human Rights Commission criticizes government's plan to expand MAiD

By James Schadenberg

Charlotte-Anne Malischewski
Global News article by Teresa Wright published on February 23 reports that Charlotte-Anne Malischewski, the Deputy Chief Commissioner and Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, has criticized the Canadian government’s plan to expand medical (MAiD) euthanasia legislation.

As Wright reports:
Before moving ahead with expanding assisted dying, Parliament needs to address “failures” in the current regime for Canadians to see ending their life as the only option, says the interim chair of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

In a statement to Global News, Charlotte-Anne Malischewski says the federal government needs to take a closer look at what has happened since existing medical assistance in dying (MAID) legislation came into force before extending this program to further populations.

In particular, (Parliament) needs to focus on the many worrying accounts of individuals who have accessed or are considering accessing MAID because Canada is failing to fulfill their fundamental human rights,” Malischewski wrote in a statement to Global News.

“In an era where we recognize the right to die with dignity, we must do more to guarantee the right to live with dignity.”
On February 15, the House of Commons passed Bill C-39, which delays the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness until March 2024. The Senate has until March 17, 2023, to pass this bill.

February 15 also saw the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (AMAD) tabling a report in the House of Commons calling for a drastic expansion of MAiD in Canada. The report recommends that "mature minors" (children) and patients with mental illnesses should be eligible for euthanasia and that patients with illnesses such as dementia should be permitted to make advanced requests by advanced directives for euthanasia.

Though the Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission does not comment on the recommendations of AMAD’s report, in case she is called to someday testify in Parliament about bringing child euthanasia to Canada, she does see it as unacceptable that Canada is failing to fulfill its human rights obligations to people with illnesses and disabilities:
Malischewski would not comment on the recommendations regarding assisted dying for minors because it is an issue for which she may be called to testify in Parliament, if and when it becomes legislation, she said in her statement.

But she did say the Commission has heard about “too many cases” in which Canadians are choosing to die because they don’t have access to a life with fundamental human rights, including the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to adequate housing as well as rights to health care and accessible services.

“What the Commission has heard is that, in far too many cases, these failures leave people seeing ending their life as the only option. This is unacceptable,” Malischewski said.

“Medical assistance in dying cannot be a default for Canada’s failure to fulfill its human rights obligations. Before Parliament extends MAID any further, it needs to ensure that it is providing meaningful options beyond ending one’s life.”
Malischewski is right to call Canada’s current state of euthanasia law unacceptable, but as the Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, she should be going further in her criticism of Canada’s MAiD legislation. If people not being able to afford adequate treatment, housing, or assistance is a failure of Canada to fulfill its human rights obligations, then how much worse is it that Canada is allowing doctors to kill these same people? If policies that negatively impact the lives of people are seen as failures to fulfill human rights obligations, then policies that allow doctors to kill these same people should be seen as clear violations of human rights.

In the past year, there have been far too many stories of people with illnesses and disabilities being coerced into MAiD or seeking out MAiD because they cannot afford adequate treatment, housing, or based on poverty. If these stories continue to come out (which they will) after Canada’s politicians expand MAiD eligibility, the Canadian Human Rights Commission will have to see the MAiD regime for what it is - the government killing people whose lives are deemed not worth living.

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gadfly said...

I thought a maid doctor and camap member said that those stories of maid for poverty and disability were 'scaremongering...' Hm. wonder what green has to say now...

Alex Schadenberg said...

Dear Gadfly.

The euthanasia lobby are playing with words. They correctly say that you cannot be approved for euthanasia based on poverty, homelessness or an inability to receive medical treatment. But no one is saying they are approved for those reasons, they are saying that they are asking for it based on those reasons.