Sophia was confident. She knew exactly what she needed to live well.
That is an affordable, smoke and chemical free home to accommodate her recognized disability: Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). There is no cure for MCS. MCS is managed by limiting exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Sophia was persistent. She asked for help again and again for years.
When the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal did not provide safe air quality in her apartment, she was forced to live in one room starting on October 7, 2019. Sophia called this room her “dungeon.” In her own words, “The other side of my “dungeon” enclosure (living/dining room, kitchen, hallway, storage room) REEKS of both cigarette/marijuana smoke and scented personal care/laundry/cleaning products, leaching in from other tenants’ apartments – all of which trigger severe MCS symptoms.”
Sophia was frustrated and defeated. She said she felt like “expendable trash.”
Sophia had two options. She could continue suffering or have her life ended by MAiD (medical assistance in dying).
And Sophia was smart. She knew that once she started the MAiD application process, she couldn’t waver.
Sophia’s life was ended on February 22nd, 2022.
You can’t blame her for giving up the fight. But you can certainly blame the Canadian Government.
On March 17th of 2021, Bill C-7 became law. Bill C-7 made it legal for medical professionals to assist in the suicides of suffering disabled people whose deaths are not reasonably foreseeable.
As a part of routine Parliamentary process, Bill C-7 was studied by Parliamentarians before being passed. MPs and Senators were told about Sophia’s circumstances under her real name: “Ruth.”
Sophia was still alive.
Did the Canadian Government find a way to house Sophia? No. Did Parliamentarians ask, “who is “Ruth” and how can we reach her?” No. Did anybody hit pause on crafting a law that would put people like Sophia at risk? Absolutely not.
Bill C-7 was passed at record speed.
On October 20, 2021, her doctors, including the doctors who gave her MAiD, wrote to the government begging for appropriate housing for Sophia, “We are writing you now because the situation has become even more dire. Because of her unrelieved suffering in Rent Geared to Income (RGI) housing, a patient (R.W.) has applied for and been found eligible for Medical Assistance in Dying, which she intends to follow through on before Christmas this year. We physicians find it unconscionable that no other solution is proposed to this situation, other than Medical Assistance in Dying. We urge you to do something and communicate with us as quickly as possible.”
No one answered. And Sophia died.
One of the safeguards in Canada’s MAiD law is that people like Sophia must be counseled on alternative ways to relieve their suffering before being found eligible for MAiD. As mentioned previously, and by her doctors, healthy housing free of smoke and chemical infiltration would have improved her health and quality of life.
Sophia, you were confident, persistent, resourceful, smart…. And one year later, we remember. We will always fight for you. You deserved a place to call home. When you couldn’t find a home on your own, you deserved a Canada that would move mountains, not for you to die, but for you to live.