Cambridge Right to Life typically meets with a government representative close to the anniversary of the day the Supreme Court of Canada struck down our abortion law (Jan 28, 1988). This year, we met with MP Bryan May on January 15 to discuss the government’s plans to expand MAiD for mentally ill persons.
We asked that the government STOP AND DISMANTLE A PLAN TO EXPAND MAID FOR MENTAL ILLNESS —scheduled for possible implementation as early as March 17, 2024. We left his office without any reassurance that our objection to MAID’s expansion would be conveyed, by him, our local representative, to the “powers that be.” Below is our letter addressed to Mr. May.
January 15, 2024
Dear Mr. May,
We would like to begin by thanking you for making the time to meet with us with your busy schedule!
We also thank you for your service to our community and offer you our best wishes for a healthy and successful new year.
Today, we share with you our concerns regarding the outcome of a narrow defeat (167 votes against, 150 for) of Bill C-314 last October. The Bill, introduced by the Hon. Ed Fast, would have protected people who are living with mental illness, from accessing medical assistance in dying (MAID). Many groups, including the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and the Society of Canadian Psychiatry, spoke in favour of the bill. All NDP MP’s, and 8 Liberals, despite party pressure to oppose it, voted “Yes” to the Bill. Public evidence within our country and beyond suggests there is growing concern about proceeding with MAID for the mentally ill .
A recent poll by Angus Reid Institute found that only 28% of Canadians support euthanasia for mental illness, while 82% stated that mental health care should be improved before euthanasia for mental illness is considered. We cannot consider terminating a fellow citizen’s life, if that citizen is suffering because of lack of access to good mental health care.
We submit to you today, Bryan, using the words of Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov, a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manitoba, researcher and scientist, “OTTAWA, WE HAVE A PROBLEM”. This is the sentiment of many Canadians!
It appears that our federal government is increasingly supporting and delivering a message to those who suffer (in any capacity) that death is a solution to their problem. Where is the hope provided? The use of MAID has grown substantially year by year, since its inception.
We ask you, what is your present position on this Bill?
Recently, Kathrin Mentler went to the Assessment Centre at Vancouver General Hospital for help as she was experiencing suicidal ideation. While being assessed, the counsellor asked her if she had considered MAID. Mentler told the media that she was shocked and sickened that she was given recommendations on how to kill herself (EPC Newsletter, Oct 2023) She went for HELP, not to be given implicit information that she could receive support from our health care system, to legally access MAID and end her life.
We have all been touched either personally or through family, community contact by mental illness. These are people whom we love, who are valuable members of our community. They deserve to have HOPE that we will support and help them. Our government needs to focus on solutions that will enhance their quality of life, not end it. The need for increasing support for those living with disabilities, living in poverty, homelessness, physical and mental illness…continues to grow. Our government needs to offer them HOPE for a better future.
We are strongly requesting that you support our community by asking to STOP and DISMANTLE (not just “PAUSE”) the initiative of MAID for the mentally ailing. And please, use your influence to advocate that our government spend the money, and resources on solutions that will facilitate the social and health supports needed throughout our country. Doing this will result in the health and well-being of all people, who can then contribute to the building up of our country-a country of hope.
Thank you for taking time to read and consider our concerns. The request to stop the process for MAID for the mentally ill is vital to the overall health and stability of the people of Canada. We strive to speak life-affirming values into our community and our country.
We welcome further correspondence in writing, by telephone or a face-to-face visit to share and understand your perspective on this issue
Sincerely for Life,
President, Cambridge Right to Life