Introduction

Webcast Archive: No Free Choice – remembering four suicides

This week: we remember four Québécois who killed themselves between 2014 and 2015 for lack of supports to enable them to remain independent, and ask what has, and has not changed since then.

Webcast Archive: No Free Choice – remembering four suicides

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not present our webcast, due to technical problems caused by heavy internet usage. However we are providing the text as a bulletin to offer up-to-date information about assisted suicide, euthanasia and ending-of-life practices for the disability community.

NO FREE CHOICE: REMEMBERING FOUR SUICIDES

  • In the year before euthanasia came into effect in Québec, between April, 2014 and March of 2015, four Québecers with disabilities ended their lives because they didn’t have the supports they needed to remain independent. Despite efforts by advocates, conditions in the province have worsened since then.
  • In April of 2014, Mario Beaudoin and his wife were found dead in their home following what was believed to be a suicide pact. Mr. Beaudoin had been injured in a car accident 16 months earlier, and had been unable to get home modifications, medical equipment and personal assistance services they needed.
  • In September, three months after Québec’s National Assembly adopted the province’s euthanasia law, Yvan Tremblay killed himself because he was being forced to move out of his apartment due to new security regulations imposed by the government. Management claimed that it would be impossible to evacuate Mr. Tremblay in case of fire, so he would have to move to a smaller apartment without a kitchen.
  • Two days later, on September 16, Pierre Mayence died of starvation at the nursing home where he lived, after a court ruled that the staff could not force-feed him.
  • And finally, in March of 2015, Gabriel Bouchard died, also of starvation, because he could not get the supports he needed to remain in his own apartment. (You can watch our Interview with him on our website.)
  • What has changed since 2015?
    • In Québec, from December of 2015 to April of 2019, 2,909 people were euthanized, and 2,947 people received continuous palliative sedation, for a total death toll of 5,856.
    • Neither Québec nor the Federal government has released reports from the monitoring system for medical aid in dying (MAiD). However in introducing bill C-7, the Department of Justice mentioned that more than 13,000 euthanasia had been performed since June of 2016.
    • As of May 20, 3,718 people had died of COVID-19 in Québec, most of whom were residents of long-term care institutions. Deaths in Canada totalled 6,030.
  • What hasn’t changed in the last five years?
    • Public policy still favours warehousing disabled people in institutions, rather than giving them the choice to control their lives by employing their own personal support workers.
    • The public, including progressives, continue to believe in the myth that assisted suicide and euthanasia (AS & E) is a free choice.
    • Disability groups remain timid about opposing AS & E.
  • While we’ve focused on events in Québec, the same problems apply in the rest of Canada.
  • People talk about the health care workers who are the “front-line heroes” of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s absolutely true; many are going above and beyond the call of duty. But most of these workers get to leave the heartache behind when they go home at the end of the day. Disabled activists don’t stop being disabled when their shift is over, just as single parents, women, people of colour and poor people can’t leave behind the discrimination that affects their lives.