By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
CBC News Saskatchewan reporter Laura Sciarpelletti on September 19 published a report that the Saskatchewan Health Authority 811 help line removed the link to the Medical Aid in Dying (euthanasia) program.
According to the CBC News report Everett Hindley, Saskatchewan’s Minister of Mental Health sent out a message stating:
“It does not make sense to greet people with a message that could potentially imply that suicide is an option.”
Hindley’s office confirmed with CBC News that it was their office that directed that euthanasia be removed from the 811 help line.
Hindley’s office stated that they were contacted by “a mental health and suicide prevention advocate for whom suicide is a deeply personal issue.”
Donovan Maess a CTV News Regina Multi Media Journalist spoke to Senator Denise Batters, who is a well known mental health advocate, as stating:
Hearing that health line message, I knew it was very problematic and needed to change,”
“When I contacted the minister, he agreed.”
Maxine Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada also ran a campaign to remove the euthanasia service from the 811 health help line. Bernier, who voted in favour of euthanasia, told Maess, from CTV News that:
“The promotion of that option is out there all the time,”
“The government should not be promoting that when you call the health emergency line.”
Batters told Maess that:
“We need to be providing people with mental illness with better treatment,”
“We need to offer people real resources and real help, not just an easier way to access suicide.”
It is good news that the Saskatchewan government has removed euthanasia (MAiD) from its 811 health help line but the battle has just begun. Canadian provinces have a MAiD service and some of these services have even been promoting MAiD even on hospital electronic billboards in the emergency room.