Friday, May 12, 2023

Canada’s poverty reduction scheme

Is poverty or homelessness a good reason for euthanasia?
This article was published by Mercatornet on May 11, 2023.

By Michael Cook

If you have read A Christmas Carol, you may remember Ebenezer Scrooge’s opinion about social services, as expressed to two gentlemen who ask him for a donation to make “some slight provision for the Poor and destitute”. Are there no prisons, asks Scrooge; are there no workhouses?

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die,” they say.

To which Dickens’ monument to misanthropy retorts: “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

The spirit of Scrooge seems to have migrated across the Atlantic and taken up residence in Canada where Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) – aka euthanasia — for the poor is warmly supported.

There have been a number of well-publicised cases of people who have applied for MAiD simply because they cannot find housing, or because their housing is inadequate.

For instance, take the case of Amir Farsoud, a 54-year-old who applied for euthanasia last year because he feared becoming homeless. He said that his quality of life is “awful, non-existent and terrible … I do nothing other than manage pain.” However, it would be bearable if he didn’t have to cope with the fear of homelessness. He depends on social assistance and can’t find affordable accommodation. “I don’t want to die but I don’t want to be homeless more than I don’t want to die”.

So what does the Canadian public think about cases like this?

Lots of them are cool with it.

A huge majority – 73% — are broadly supportive of the country’s euthanasia legislation, which has been called the most radical in the world.

MAiD was touted as a solution for people with terminal illness in unbearable pain. But now that people are dying by the thousand under Canada’s euthanasia law, just about any reason will do.

According to a recent poll by Research Co, a company which monitors public opinion in Canada, more than one in four would allow euthanasia for homelessness (28%) and for poverty (27%). Even more shocking is that the poll showed that 50% of Canadians would allow euthanasia for people who had been unable to access medical treatment and 51% for people with a disability.

Alarmingly, millennials are even more Scrooge-like than their elders. Forty-one percent of people between 18 and 34 agree or strongly agree that poverty and homelessness should make Canadians eligible for euthanasia. That’s two out of five in the up-and-coming generation.

Even worse, bioethicists – who ought to be defending the rights of the vulnerable – are defending the right of poor people to receive euthanasia if they want it. “All options on the table are really tragic and sad,” a bioethicist at the University of Toronto told the National Post recently. “But the least harmful way forward is to allow people who are competent to make decisions to have access to this choice, even if it’s a terrible one.”

But Yuan Yi Zhu, a Canadian research fellow at Harris Manchester College at the University of Oxford, got it right. “It is more than tragic,” he told the National Post, “it is a moral stain on our country, for which future generations will have to atone for.”

Canadians are reputed to be the nicest people on the planet. If the test of a just society is how it cares for the vulnerable, Canadians have flunked. How did they end up turning into Scrooges who believe that poor people are better off dead?

The answer which springs to mind is that Canada has drifted far from its moorings in the Christian faith. It’s no coincidence that Christian affiliation and practice are at an all-time low in Canada.

And this is what a post-Christian welfare system looks like – a syringe and a bottle of pills. In the scriptures of a religion which most Canadians once believed you can read: “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” Pity elderly Canadians when those Millennials are running the country and need to balance budgets.

1 comment:

Dr. Arnold Voth said...

I read the article in the Globe and Mail - and was horrified, yet not surprised. I was going to write a comment on it - but Michael Cook has done it far more eloquently and fluently than I could. Thanks Michael. Hope your piece gets very wide publicity