MAiD cannot be an answer to systemic inequality



Following recent reports of an individual accessing Medical Assistance in Dying, because they were unable to find housing that accommodated their disability, Chief Commissioner Marie-Claude Landry of the Canadian Human Rights Commission releases the following statement:

Medical Assistance in Dying is intended to allow people the ability to die with dignity when science and medicine can offer no better alternative to alleviate unbearable suffering. Leaving people to make this choice because the state is failing to fulfill their fundamental human rights is unacceptable. 

For many people with disabilities, systemic inequality results in inadequate access to services, which means that their fundamental rights continue to be denied and their dignity diminished. They cannot get the health care they need because of where they live. They cannot live in their community because the housing they need is not accessible. They cannot afford crucial medication. 

In many instances, people with disabilities see ending their life as the only option. We must do more to fight for those who continue to be denied the fundamental human rights to which we are all entitled.

Social and economic rights – the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to adequate housing, the right to healthcare and the right to accessible services – are fundamental human rights. They are essential to living a life of dignity. Without access to social and economic rights, our other rights have little meaning. 

Canada has an obligation to ensure that everyone can live with full enjoyment of these rights. Social and economic rights – fundamental human rights – should be enshrined in law. This would give people recourse when they are being denied an adequate place to live, or are unable to find healthcare or are excluded from receiving a service. It would provide access to justice. It would provide options beyond ending one’s life.

Medical Assistance in Dying cannot be a default for Canada’s failure to fulfill its human rights obligations.

In an era where we recognize the right to die with dignity, we must do more to guarantee the right to live with dignity.



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