Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), is raving about Saskatchewan’s decision to remove a “euthanasia” option from its 811 hotline.
In an email statement to INK from the PPC’s media team on Bernier’s behalf, he said:
“I’m afraid that with all the budget and manpower shortages in our horribly managed health case system, MAID is increasingly seen as a way to get rid of patients and lower costs by calculating health bureaucrats. This is abominable and completely immoral.”
Medical Assistance in Dying, or MAID, is an end-of-life option for patients suffering from severe, incurable illnesses. Right-wing advocates like the PPC critique the service for potentially promoting suicide. Last week, the Saskatchewan government removed MAID from its 811 hotline menu. The hotline provides citizens with health advice.
Regarding the province’s decision, Bernier added, “I’m pleased that the government of Saskatchewan has come to its senses and stopped promoting and suggesting euthanasia to people in distress calling its 8-1-1 health line. That is telling me that we were right to raise this issue publicly and denounce it. Soon after we did, the provincial minister of mental health directed the Saskatchewan Health Authority to remove the MAID option from the health line.”
This statement echoes a previous tweet Bernier wrote when the decision was announced, where he stated the PPC influenced the decision, writing “Common sense wins after pressure from the PPC!” and describing MAID as a “death cult.”
Common sense wins after pressure from PPC!
“The MAID option removal comes after Maxime Bernier, leader of the People's Party of Canada, took aim at the 811 service in a series of tweets in August, calling it a "death cult."”https://t.co/sjvOuXXarJ
— Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) September 19, 2022
Mental Health Minister Everett Hindley’s office said, “This issue was originally raised with me by a mental health and suicide prevention advocate for whom suicide is a deeply personal issue.”
Bernier further told INK that while he doesn’t oppose MAID, he believes “it should only be used in extreme cases to end intolerable suffering, and not as an alternative to other treatments.”
Bernier said accessing MAID should be harder, and “should never be suggested or encouraged by the medical personal (sic). The federal government should reopen MAID legislation to restrict its use, not make it easier for more people in more situations …as is now the case. It should make it a criminal offense for anyone in the health system to encourage patients to have recourse to it.”
According to the Government of Saskatchewan’s website under the “Medical Assistance in Dying Information for the Public” page, the service is only offered to people who have a serious, incurable illness and have physical and psychological suffering and a decline in capabilities because of their illness. They also need to consent to the procedure after receiving their diagnoses.
The “Medical Assistance in Dying Information for the Public” page said people with mental illnesses can be eligible for MAID if they meet the criteria on March 17.
Saskatchewan residents can still inquire about MAID on the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s webpage, which is https://www.saskhealthauthority.ca/your-health/conditions-diseases-services/medical-assistance-dying.