OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to an article regarding an Orillia man who is seeking medically assisted death, published Jan. 23.
In recent days, our community was shaken by a man choosing to seek medical assistance in dying (MAID) as a means to escape what he believes to be a hopeless existence, and the opinion has been very divided.
On the one hand, you have people joking, assuming that this is some sort of cry for a free ride or money for nothing.
On the other hand, we’ve seen people full of compassion who wish they could help.
The simple fact is the system is broken. We have people with disabilities, both mental and physical, who have decided MAID is an option. When MAID was originally created in 2016, it specifically was created to end suffering for the terminally ill. However, in the years since, we have lowered that bar. In March of this year, or shortly after, MAID will become accessible to those in a state of mental disparity.
When you think of social assistance, the average person only thinks of the cheque being sent in the mail, never beyond. Our system is grossly underfunded, almost as if to purposely keep people with disabilities in a state of poverty, which is proven to lead to depression. You can no longer live on disability assistance without other financial help, but there is little to no help from that same system, such as teaching people how to cope, survive, and have a sense of purpose beyond the scope of their health and ability to work.
Thinking back to when the Canada Emergency Response Benefit was created to help people who lost their jobs, the amount was considered by both the provincial and federal government as “the bare minimum a Canadian should be forced to live on.”
That figure was double what someone on disability assistance is given. Are people with disabilities not Canadians?
With the current changes to the MAID application requirements, we are seeing a massive uptick in people who are looking for a more permanent solution, rather than being trapped in a system that offers less than the bare minimum in financial support, and even less in the way of therapy and coping strategies to those suffering.
Personally, it warms my heart that our local community wants this man to live, but it isn’t enough. Every single one of us needs to become an advocate to change the system. People dealing with mental or physical issues need your voices. We need to stop this false narrative that people on social assistance are “freeloaders,” and start looking at them as human beings who deserve a decent quality of life.
The safety net designed to keep our most vulnerable protected isn’t working, and MAID is slowly becoming a form of sanctioned eugenics.
Where is our compassion for the homeless, the disabled, the elderly? Why do we force anyone to live on an income that is well below the Ontario poverty line, in suffering?
I am intimately familiar with MAID and its intended initial purpose, but this has gone too far. MAID has now become the easy out for our system’s shortcomings and inability to provide for those in need. We have become complacent to the idea that poverty, and now death, are the norm associated with disabilities.
I urge every single reader, please become an advocate for those in need. The system is failing them, forcing them into the darkest places of their mind. Disabled should not mean worthless, useless, or hopeless.