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Cardus executive vice-president Ray Pennings

Expanded MAiD worries Canadians: survey

  • November 11, 2020

OTTAWA -- A new public opinion poll indicates Canadians are not as supportive of major changes to the federal MAiD (medical assistance in dying) system as the federal government claims.

Polls have generally shown Canadians support the option of medically-assisted suicide in cases where a person is suffering and is going to die soon, but when asked more detailed questions about how the system should work, a majority start to balk at expanding MAiD beyond the already restrictive guidelines, according to the Angus Reid Institute poll released Nov. 10.

The poll came just as Parliament’s standing committee on justice and human rights was about to wrap up its four sessions to discuss the proposed MAiD changes in Bill C-7, which the government expects to pass next month. The Liberal government claims the changes to MAiD are a straightforward reaction to a 2019 Quebec court decision that the requirement that a person’s death be “reasonably foreseeable” was too restrictive and thus unconstitutional.

The poll indicates 69 per cent are concerned expanding MAiD will lead to people with mental health issues such as depression to choose death rather than dealing with the underlying causes of their condition, 65 per cent fear expanding MAiD will lead to people with disabilities or those who are elderly feeling more pressure to choose death in order to avoid being a burden on others, and 62 per cent worry the health-care system will start to ignore long-term care and chronic disease in the elderly as MAiD becomes more available.

“As federal politicians consider Bill C-7, which would expand access to MAiD to include people with disabilities and chronic illnesses while also undoing most safeguards, mainstream Canadians say decision-makers should consider several potential problems,” according to faith-based think tank Cardus, which commissioned the Angus Reid survey .

The survey found the majority of Canadians are uncomfortable with expanding the MAiD system too much.

“Those pushing for a massive expansion of MAiD are loud, but they’re a minority,” said Dr. Angus Reid. “Most Canadians are in the mainstream, where general support for MAiD comes with significant concerns and caveats that leaders must heed.”

Cardus executive vice-president Ray Pennings said the survey shows Canadians are worried MAiD is being expanded too broadly.

“Polling numbers suggest Canadians know that expanding MAiD has implications for aging and vulnerable Canadians as well as the health care system,” Pennings said. “MAiD affects more than just the patient-doctor relationship. It’s time the politicians accepted that reality too.”

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