For Immediate Release
February 28, 2020
On Monday, February 24th, Attorney General David Lametti tabled amendments to Canada’s medical assistance in dying legislation. He was supported by the Ministers of Health and Disability Inclusion. The draft law, Bill C-7, would introduce a two track system allowing medical professionals to cause the death of Canadians with an illness, disease, or disability who are not dying but wish to die – after a reflection period of 90 days.
The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) is vehemently opposed to Bill C-7 in its current form. CACL and other members of the disability rights community have been active proponents of an end of life requirement in Canada’s assisted dying legislation.
“It is not possible for Canada to uphold the equality rights of people with disabilities when we, as a country, continue to see their lives as flawed and not worth fighting for,” asserted Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President of CACL, “with this new law in place, Canada would prevent the suicide of some while condoning the suicide of others – people with disabilities who have been stigmatized and discriminated against for generations.”
Bill C-7 would have doctors and nurse practitioners inform those who are not dying and who apply for an assisted death of other possible ways to address their suffering. However, people with disabilities face many barriers to accessing disability supports and mental health services across the country. This safeguard will not counteract the social harm that people will endure if having a disability like theirs is seen as an acceptable reason to end a life.
Robin Acton, President of CACL, argues that “one of the main hurdles people with an intellectual disability are forced to overcome in accessing mental health services is the assumption that they are suffering because they have a disability. Their mental illness is brushed off as reasonable. Not to mention, the waitlists are atrocious.”
It is not disability that causes people’s suffering, just like it is not a person’s indigeneity or sexual orientation that causes suffering in Canadian society, though there are higher than average suicide rates for Indigenous persons and the LGBTQ2S community. Suffering comes from living in a society where the conditions of your inclusion and dignity are denied because of your personal characteristics.
CACL believes that providing access to MAiD to people with disabilities who are not at the end of life is blatant discrimination. On this issue, CACL is firmly allied with the disability rights community in Canada.
CACL continues to represent the interests of people with an intellectual disability and their families and the essential values of inclusion wherever they must be defended – in the public sphere, in Parliamentary hearings, and in the courts. The organization maintains that Bill C-7 puts the lives of people with a disability at risk and tears at the fabric of inclusion all citizens should be able to count on.
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Media Contact: Marc Muschler, Senior Communications Officer, CACL, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) is a national federation of 13 provincial-territorial associations and over 300 local associations working to advance the full inclusion and human rights of people with an intellectual disability and their families. CACL leads the way in building an inclusive Canada by strengthening families, defending rights, and transforming communities into places where everyone belongs.