Statement from Bruce Triggs

Letter submitted to Canadian Parliament in advance of final reading of Bill C-7. The letter is shared with the author’s permission.

Dear Senators, đźŞ—My name is Bruce Triggs and I live in Vancouver. I am writing to call for you to vote No on Bill C-7, the Act to Amend the CCC (medical assistance in dying).  It is truly disturbing that Parliament is voting today on this bill which expands the legal framework for killing people with disabilities, literally on the International Day of Disabled People. Under this bill, people will be offered government-administered death before they could be accepted for assistance that would help to make their lives worth living. This is not a slippery slope to something worse, it is a demonstration that the worst is acceptable.

Under this bill, no minimal options and services are mandated when a person faces a life-crisis that leads them to consider self harm. It seems more like a suicide hotline, specifically for disabled people, that responds, “If you aren’t getting support for you to live, would you like us to help you die?”

There is no question that this will be used to kill disabled people who might well live well given the chance. Many disabled people feel isolated, or that their needs aren’t being met or even acknowledged. The fact that this bill is being considered is enough for some to consider whether society values them at all. This is a vote on whether disabled lives matter.  This bill is fundamentally about cutting off health care from a specific class of citizens protected under the Human Rights Code and the Charter. In the midst of a pandemic where we are seeing increasing disparity of illness, deaths, and unknown future disabilities, this bill that cuts-off care is deeply chilling.  

This bill radically expands Medical Assistance in Dying to include people with disabilities who are not terminally ill. But it has no acknowledgment of the coercion and pressures many disabled people face to “consent” to medical death. It allows for ending the lives of disabled people but provides no framework to assure that resources to increase quality of life have been made available.  It states in section 3.1.g that “The person has been informed of the means available to relieve their suffering, including, where appropriate, counselling services, mental health and disability support services. But there are no requirement that any needed services exist. Disabled people in Canada are routinely told that the most basic life-enhancing support is unavailable, or that wait times may be months or years in coming. This bill blatantly denies that reality, and instead offers a fast-track death.

Paragraphs 2-4 of the Preamble are particularly offensive. They state that Canada has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, without any evidence that our country is living up to those standards. They claim to celebrate the “right to life, liberty, and security,” “equal protection,” and “disability inclusion,” and imply without any qualifications that the law will be applied “without discrimination.” The body of the bill though violates those rights, and specifically discriminates against disabled people by offering to kill them without assuring that the rights and standards have been followed. It is horrifying to see those words in the introduction to this dramatic expansion encouraging suicides.

Before any bill increases access to death, we must require that access to life-saving services are available. No expansion of assisted suicide should be passed before the basic needs of disabled people to live in dignity are legally assured. If we aren’t offered the means to live well first, people should not offer to kill us. I ask that you Vote No on Bill C-7, and consult particularly with disabled people living in poverty in this country before streamlining the process of killing us. Thank you for your deep consideration of this most serious issue, I would very much appreciate being kept informed of the Senate’s action on this bill.

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