OANHSS Speaks Out About Medical Assistance in Dying

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Chameleons Eye

Cathy Gapp is the CEO of the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors. She represents non-profit municipal and charitable long term care homes, nursing homes, seniors’ housing, community service agencies, commercial suppliers, associate and personal members. The association represents over 36,000 long term care residents annually and over 8,000 seniors housing units.

SUSAN PONTING: Are OANHSS members satisfied with the amendments made by the Trudeau Government to the Criminal Code (section 241.1) to enable MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying)?

CATHY GAPP: “I’m not sure that it is a matter of being satisfied. This is a very difficult and emotional issue and everyone is doing their best to work through the situation as dictated by the Supreme Court.”

Do OANHSS members have any recommendations to amend Bill 84 (currently at Second Reading before the Ontario Legislature)?

“Yes.  We are concerned about the fact that long term care facilities, boards and staff are not protected from civil liability if following through with MAID upon a resident’s request and having followed the process. Hospitals, health care practitioners and others have protection in their foundational legislation. We do not so we have asked the government to look at that.”

Was OANHSS consulted, or is it being consulted, by the Ontario government pertaining to MAID?

“Yes we have been consulted and continue to have input on MAID.”

Is there anything more that the Ontario or federal government should do to improve or clarify the legislative framework for MAID?

“I’m sure there will be ample opportunity to improve and clarify as things move forward. This is the kind of thing that always has unforeseen and unintended consequences or developments.

Will a significant number of long-term care homes refuse MAID requests from residents on religious, cultural or other grounds? Do they have this right?

“We have not had any indication that there will be a significant number of homes refusing. There are opportunities to work around or accommodate resident requests and conscientious objections.”

When a long-term care home refuses MAID, what is the resident or family to do?

“The home has a responsibility to refer the family to a resource to assist with their request.”

Does OANHSS predict significant “demand” from residents for MAID?

“It is impossible to say, but no, I don’t think we will see a great demand.”

As we saw in Montreal, when a family’s request for MAID for their mother/wife who had Alzheimer’s wasn’t granted, and the husband took it upon himself to go INTO the facility and kill her, this is a very complex issue we don’t know all of the facts but would the OANHSS be against this kind of action?

“Our members have a long history of working with families to best address their loved ones needs, wishes and requirements. We see no difference in this issue.”

Can you share your own personal experience or a situation with us where MAID was necessary?

“I can tell you that when you see a loved one suffering in pain that can no longer be managed by drugs you wish that something could be done. Long before the Supreme Court determined the path for the country, my father was denied the relief MAID would have provided. I regret his experience and wish it had not been what it was.”

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