Canadian man plans to seek euthanasia because of his mental illness and poverty

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Hannah Alberga reported for CTV news on July 11 that Mitchell Tremblay (39) is planning to request MAiD (euthanasia) in March 2023 based on mental illness and poverty.

When Canada’s parliament passed Bill C-7 in March 2021, it expanded the euthanasia law to include people with mental illness alone. Since there were no existing rules to approve euthanasia for mental illness alone, parliament created a two-year moratorium. Therefore, Tremblay may be approved for euthanasia in March 2023.

Alberga reports:

For nearly 15 years, Tremblay has been on ODSP [Ontario Disability Support Program]. At the start, he said the approximate $1,000 was just enough to live on. With an incremental change since then, he said he’s barely able to survive.

“I’m basically living on the same amount since 2008,” he said. “I’ve gone homeless so many times I can’t keep track.”

Looking back, Tremblay said if he’d had financial and emotional support, even just 10 years ago, he could have had an “absolutely different life.”

Alberga interviews palliative care doctor Naheed Dosani on why people are asking for MAiD. Dosani reportedly states:

“One of the things that becomes very difficult to tease out is when suffering is related to the fact people don’t have housing or food and how that is so difficult to separate from suffering related to a medical condition,” he said.

“My worry is that we are creating a situation where it is easier for people to choose death by MAiD than to choose to live well, because society is not offering them adequate access to money, housing, food security and social support.”

Alberga also interviews Dr. Stephanie Green who is President of the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers who states:

Lack of affordable housing and financial support do not alone qualify a patient for an assisted death, but Dr. Stefanie Green, a MAiD practitioner in Victoria, B.C., said such complexities may contribute to a person’s suffering.

“Suffering is one of the elements required for eligibility for MAiD, so it’s impossible to discount these issues when assessing someone,” she said.

“Our health system is woefully inadequate in serving our population with these resources,” Green said. “But I do not think we can hold these patients hostage.”

Euthanasia practitioners, such as Green, are concerned with the rules that allow them to kill, not the needs of the person who is being killed. Poverty, disability, and mental illness may all cause human suffering, but it is an injustice to kill the sufferer because of cultural abandonment.