Canada: Experts warn against even weaker euthanasia laws

The Canadian Government is set to expand euthanasia access next year, despite experts warning that the current laws are already too weak.

Human rights campaigners say the regulations lack safeguards and devalue the lives of disabled people.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide accounted for 10,064 deaths in the country in 2021, a 32.4 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

Disability discrimination

Canada legalised euthanasia in 2016, but has already scrapped the requirement for a person to be terminally ill and will extend it to those with mental illness from 2023.

Head of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Marie-Claude Landry, said she shares the “grave concern” voiced by UN human rights experts that Canada’s euthanasia law appeared to violate the agency’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The experts said the law has a “discriminatory impact” on disabled people and it is inconsistent with the country’s obligations to uphold human rights standards.

’Put to death’

In 2019, a 61-year-old Canadian, Alan Nichols, who had a history of depression was euthanised for apparent hearing loss despite concerns from his family.

A month after he was hospitalised over fears that he might be suicidal he submitted an application to be euthanised, with the help of hospital staff, with “hearing loss” cited as the only reason for his request.

His family argued that the hospital improperly helped him make the request as he was not suffering and lacked the capacity to understand the process.

They said Alan was not taking his medication or using his hearing implant. His brother, Gary, said: “Alan was basically put to death”.

Military veteran

Recently, Global News Canada reported that a military veteran was unexpectedly offered assisted suicide by a Veterans Affairs employee when he sought support for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

The veteran’s family said the unprompted offer of assisted suicide has disrupted his gradual and positive shift towards recovery.

Also see:

Hospital corridor

Poor mental health and poverty enough for assisted suicide in Canada

Canada’s euthanasia a ‘slippery slope’ leading to increased deaths, warns ethicist

House of Lords rejects assisted suicide

Euthanasia and assisted suicide likely to increase overall suicides, study finds

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