Among those seeking assisted suicide is Les Landry, a 65-year-old retired truck driver. He fears becoming homeless, the U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail reported. He lives with a service dog in Medicine Hat, Alberta. His disability income was cut when he turned 65 and his $120 per month surplus after paying for necessities and medicine will likely be consumed by a rent hike in January.
“Sooner or later it’s going to get to a point where I just won’t be able to afford to live,” he told The Daily Mail.
Landry uses a wheelchair and has diabetes and epilepsy but has been able to live comfortably until his benefits were shifted from a disability benefit to a benefits plan for senior citizens. He has spoken of his new uncertainty with the doctor who evaluated him for assisted suicide.
“I knew what I was allowed. I knew what was covered. I said, ‘Now everything’s up in the air, and it’s the unknown.’ I am not considered a person with a disability, yet I have a disability.”
Canadian law allows people with nonterminal illnesses to seek assisted suicide, provided their medical condition is “grievous and irremediable.” The law requires two doctors to assess and approve assisted suicide requests.
One doctor has already approved Landry’s request, reportedly knowing that it came out of fear of poverty rather than a medical condition, the Daily Mail reported. According to Landry, this doctor “said that he knows he has admitted MAID to people based on poverty but they didn’t tell him.”
Landry is awaiting approval from a second doctor. If the second doctor does not approve, he can seek a different opinion.
Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care specialist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, told the Daily Mail that the Canadian government has “literally made it easier for people with disabilities to die with dignity through MAID than live with dignity through access to housing, income support, food security, and medication coverage.”
Dosani called for a temporary halt to the further expansion of assisted suicide and increased social support.
In March 2023, Canada will allow mental health patients with no physical ailments to seek doctor-assisted suicide.
Critics include Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, who has said the law is “morally depraved,” the Catholic Register reported.
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“In six years, Canada has gone from totally banning euthanasia to one of the most permissive euthanasia regimes in the world. And even more access could be coming, including allowing ‘mature minors’ to request it,” he told the Oct. 29 White Mass for doctors and other medical professionals at Vancouver’s Holy Rosary Cathedral.
Catholic dioceses are taking part in the “No Options, No Choice” advocacy movement to encourage provincial governments to commit more funding for palliative care, mental health, and social and housing programs so that Canadians don’t feel pressured into assisted suicide.
The Society of Canadian Psychiatry has called for a delay in the expansion of assisted suicide to those suffering from mental illness, saying a consultation and safety review is necessary.
Kevin J. Jones is a senior staff writer with Catholic News Agency. He was a recipient of a 2014 Catholic Relief Services' Egan Journalism Fellowship.