Salvation Army Offers Input on Medical Assistance in Dying - Salvation Army Canada

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    Salvation Army Offers Input on Medical Assistance in Dying

    Territorial commander sends letters to government officials. January 23, 2020 by Kristin Ostensen
    Filed Under:
    Territorial News
    As a Christian organization that serves Canadians in hospital, long-term care, palliative care and other settings, The Salvation Army is responding to an invitation from the Government of Canada to offer input regarding medical assistance in dying (MAID).

    The government is conducting public consultations on MAID as a result of a recent Quebec Superior Court decision. In its decision, the court declared that the current law regarding MAID is overly restrictive and infringes on the Charter rights of individuals who suffer from "grievous and irremediable medical conditions," but who are not yet nearing end of life.

    The federal government did not appeal that decision, and instead committed to amend the MAID law to bring it into alignment with the court decision. It is anticipated that the government will introduce legislation related to MAID to the House of Commons in the near future.

    On January 23, Commissioner Floyd Tidd, territorial commander, sent a letter to the prime minister (download letter or scroll down to read), as well as the minister of justice and minister of health (download letter or scroll down to read), acknowledging the complexity of the issue, urging robust measures to protect the vulnerable, and advocating for a commitment to high-quality palliative care.

    Recognizing that this is a complex and challenging issue on which people hold a range of opinions, The Salvation Army is encouraging Salvationists to respond, from their own perspective, to the government's online survey regarding MAID.

    To participate in the survey, visit: www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cons/ad-am/index.html.



    Letter to the Prime Minister from the Territorial Commander



    January 23, 2020

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
    Prime Minister of Canada
    Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

    Dear Prime Minister

    Re: Medical Assistance in Dying and Palliative Care

    We are writing to thank you for your recent reflections on the complexity of decisions relating to medical assistance in dying, and your acknowledgement that we as a society need to ensure there is top quality palliative care.

    As a national organization that serves vulnerable Canadians in hospital, long term care, palliative care and other settings, we acknowledge and accept that Canadians hold a diversity of views about MAID.

    Our experience in both in-patient care settings and chaplaincy settings tells us that coming to terms with our own mortality and that of our loved ones is difficult at any time. It can be complicated by family dynamics, the challenges of understanding complex medical information and miscommunications during emotionally charged times.

    Our experience in palliative care tells us that effective palliative care can make a significant difference in the lives of those who are suffering. We hope that, as laws regarding MAID are liberalized, there is an equal commitment at all levels of government to ensure patients have access to quality palliative care, genuine options and genuine choice.

    We appreciate the many difficult choices you and your Cabinet and Parliamentary colleagues must make and we wish you great wisdom and strength as you continue to serve Canadians.

    We would welcome the opportunity to provide further input as you continue to consider policy options.

    Sincerely,

    Commissioner Floyd J. Tidd
    Territorial Commander
    The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory



    Letter to the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health from the Territorial Commander



    January 23, 2020

    The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., M.P.
    Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

    The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
    Minister of Health
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

    Dear Ministers Lametti and Hajdu

    Re: Public Consultations – MAID

    We are writing to thank you for your leadership in consulting Canadians on the very complex and inherently fraught issue of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).

    From our own experience as a national organization that serves vulnerable Canadians in hospital, long term care, hospice and other settings, we acknowledge and accept that Canadians hold a diversity of views about MAID.

    As a faith-based organization whose core values include Hope, Service and Dignity, we strive to support those who come through our doors without discrimination, at the same time believing that every person has inherent value and worth, whatever their circumstances.

    Our experience in both care settings and chaplaincy settings tells us that coming to terms with our own mortality and that of our loved ones is difficult at any time. It can be complicated by family dynamics, the challenges of understanding complex medical information, miscommunications and financial stress during emotionally charged times.

    While we appreciate that the Quebec Superior Court has declared aspects of the existing law unconstitutional, we are concerned about the implications of medically hastening the death of those who find the prospect of continuing to live unbearable (both physically and psychologically). This vulnerable population may be at risk and therefore we ask for safeguards to be mandated to ensure informed decision making is taking place. Our experience in palliative care settings tells us that effective palliative care can make a significant difference in the lives and decisions of those who are suffering. We hope that, as laws regarding MAID are liberalized, there is an equal commitment to ensure patients have access to quality palliative care (both physical and psychological, genuine options and genuine choice.

    As you consider short-term and longer-term amendments to the Criminal Code, we urge you to put in place robust safeguards to ensure that individuals who request MAID have not felt pressured to do so by their loved ones, their health care providers, or by a sense that they are a burden to society or their lives are not worth living.

    While we appreciate that any Charter analysis must be, inherently, about the individual(s) whose rights or freedoms have been infringed or limited by the state, we also note that, outside of courtrooms, MAID affects not only the person who chooses MAID, but also the health professionals and loved ones surrounding that person. Our staff and clergy are often present when individuals pass away, whether in a residential care setting or in an individual’s own home. We see the impact that both end-of-life decisions and the dying process have, not just on the individual who dies, but also on those around them.

    We thus urge all policy makers at all levels of government to consider the genuine psychological impact providing MAID or being present during the provision of MAID can have on physicians, nurse practitioners, other support persons, and family members.

    Once again, we thank you for your leadership and pray that you and your Cabinet and Parliamentary colleagues will have great wisdom as you respond to the Quebec Superior Court decision and plan for a more comprehensive review of the law governing MAID.

    We would welcome the opportunity to provide further input as you continue to consider policy options.

    Sincerely,

    Commissioner Floyd J. Tidd
    Territorial Commander
    The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory

    Feature photo: galitskaya/iStock.com

    Comment

    On Tuesday, January 28, 2020, Marg Kennett said:

    Very well said. Thank you. It

     

    On Monday, January 27, 2020, Doreen Payne said:

    Commissioner Tibb, Thanks for sharing your letter with us. I am definitely with you when you say that robust safeguards should be put in place to make sure an individual is not being pressured into making a life- death decision. When I think of individuals who have mental illnesses and have relapses, from time to time, the field just cannot be left wide open for them to make a rash judgement call and choose death over life because it seems easier. I am praying that the powers that are making all the laws, rules and regulations weights the pros and cons of what is exactly going to be written as law.

    Thank you for speaking on our behalf. Praying your views will make a difference.

    Blessings!

     

    On Sunday, January 26, 2020, Joan Durdle said:

    Thank you for speaking on our behalf to our government making important decisions that affect us all.

     

    On Saturday, January 25, 2020, Joanne Blackmore said:

    Thank you for responding on behalf of The Salvation Army. A very difficult subject.

     

    On Thursday, January 23, 2020, Winnie Hoddinott said:

    Well said. Thanks for sharing. Very well presented. 👍👍

     

    On Thursday, January 23, 2020, Pat Oldford said:

    Very well presented.

     

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