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News > Canada

Canadians Turn to Euthanasia as Solution to Unbearable Poverty

  • A homeless person sits on a sidewalk wall, Canada.

    A homeless person sits on a sidewalk wall, Canada. | Photo: Twitter/ @IglesiaMilagro

Published 23 May 2022

There is some evidence that poor people who cannot improve their living conditions have been applying to the "Medical Assistance in Dying" program.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration has expressed support for the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) program being expanded to people suffering from irremediable mental illnesses. The implications of this option, however, have raised ethical concerns.


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In 2016, by approving Bill C-14, a law permitting medical euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, the Parliament ruled that the Canadian State shall cover the costs of euthanasia for people who suffer terminal illness with foreseeable natural death and who are too poor to afford this procedure.

In March 2021, legislators repealed the "reasonably foreseeable" requirement and the provision specifying that the patient's condition should be "terminal." As a consequence of the above, all people suffering from an illness or disability that cannot be relieved under acceptable conditions can apply for the MAID program.

"Canada has some of the lowest social care spending of any industrialized country, palliative care is only accessible to a minority, and waiting times in the public healthcare sector can be unbearable," Oxford Nuffield College researcher Yuan Yi Zhu said in an article published by The Spectator, which explains why poor citizens who cannot improve their living conditions started applying for the MAID program. 

A woman in Ontario, for example, chose euthanasia because her housing benefits did not allow her to obtain a place to live and avoid crippling allergies.

“The government sees me as an expendable, whiny, useless scum," stated this woman, who left letters showing a desperate search for governmental help for over two years.

The 2016 Euthanasia Act only prohibited assisted death in the case of people suffering from mental illnesses. In February, however, the Trudeau administration proposed that Canadiens with cognitive-impairing conditions should be entitled to receive assistance in dying. It also raised the option that citizens who fear being diagnosed with this type of disease can make requests for early assisted death.

The Canadian Mental Health Association said it is deeply disappointed by this governmental approach. "Until the health-care system adequately responds to the mental health needs of Canadians, assisted dying should not be an option,” it stated.


Yuan Yi Zhu
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