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Expanded Medical Assistance in Dying Ignores Mainstream Concerns


November 10, 2020 

OTTAWA, ON – A new Angus Reid Group poll, commissioned by think tank Cardus, finds Canadians have deep and genuine concerns about the expansion of medical assistance in dying (MAiD). 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:

  • 69% are concerned expanded MAiD will lead to people with mental health issues like depression choosing death rather than dealing with the underlying causes of their condition
  • 68% are disturbed by a UN report critical of Canada’s poor MAiD safeguards for people with disabilities and their lack of access to viable MAiD alternatives.
  • 65% fear expanded 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.
  • 62% worry the health care system will start to ignore long-term care and chronic disease in the elderly as MAiD becomes more available.

The same poll found enthusiastic MAiD supporters, who push for eliminating safeguards and the broadest possible eligibility, represent just 33 percent of Canadians. Outside Quebec, that proportion drops to slightly more than a quarter of Canadians. About half of all Canadians are cautiously supportive of MAiD – the vast majority expressing worries about its expansion – while one in five oppose it.

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

Ray Pennings, executive vice-president of Cardus, notes the debate on Bill C-7 has had too narrow a focus so far.

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

The poll report, including findings on conscience rights, is freely available online.

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