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Health

Canadian provinces push back after Trudeau’s health minister says MAiD will eventually be expanded

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Liberal Health Minister Mark Holland

From LifeSiteNews

BY Clare Marie Merkowsky

Holland has told Canadians that the government, is still seeking to expand MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) to those suffering from mental health issues; it just needs more time to prepare the ‘system.’

The Trudeau government still intends to provide euthanasia to mentally ill Canadians, but provincial health ministers are asking for the measure to be “indefinitely” postponed.   

On January 30, health ministers from Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut appealed to Liberal Health Minister Mark Holland to “indefinitely pause” expanding MAiD eligibility to the mentally ill.   

On January 29, Holland told Canadians that the Liberal government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is still seeking to expand MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) to those suffering from mental health issues; it just needs more time to prepare the “system.” 

“We agree with the conclusion that the committee has come to that the system is not ready, and more time is required,” Holland told reporters, referring to a report that “fundamental issues” regarding the expansion have yet to be resolved.   

The new provision, which was to take effect in March, would have relaxed legislation around so-called MAiD to include those suffering solely from mental illness. This is a result of the 2021 passage of Bill C-7, which also allowed the chronically ill – not just the terminally ill – to qualify for so-called doctor-assisted death. 

On Monday, following pushback from Canadians, Holland announced that Canada is not ready for the expansion and has determined to delay it. However, Holland stressed that this is not an abandonment of the new policy but merely a postponement.  

“What we’re saying is that … someone in that intractable situation … should have that right, but the system needs to be ready, and the system needs to get it right,” he added, not explaining how being killed would help their situation.  

Holland did not reveal when the expansion is expected to take effect but disclosed that “those individuals are gonna have to wait a little longer” to end their lives by lethal injection.  

The Liberal government’s desire to expand MAiD to those suffering with mental health issues comes despite several experts, and provincial health ministers, warning against the move.  

RELATED: Canada’s top pro-life group urges Trudeau gov’t to drop euthanasia expansion entirely

The provincial health ministers’ appeal echoes that of leading Canadian psychiatrist Dr. K. Sonu Gaind, who testified that the expansion of MAiD “is not so much a slippery slope as a runaway train.” 

Similarly, in November, several Canadian psychiatrists warned that the country is “not ready” for the coming expansion of euthanasia to those who are mentally ill. They said that further liberalizing the procedure is not something that “society should be doing” as it could lead to deaths under a “false pretence.” 

The expansion of euthanasia to those with mental illness even has the far-left New Democratic Party (NDP) concerned. Dismissing these concerns, a Trudeau Foundation fellow actually said Trudeau’s current euthanasia regime is marked by “privilege,” assuring the Canadian people that most of those being put to death are “white,” “well off,” and “highly educated.” 

The most recent reports show that MAiD is the sixth highest cause of death. However, it was not listed as such in Statistics Canada’stop 10 leading causes of death from 2019 to 2022. When asked why MAiD was left off the list, the agency explained that it records the illnesses that led Canadians to choose to end their lives via euthanasia, not the actual cause of death, as the primary cause of death.

According to Health Canada, in 2022, 13,241 Canadians died by MAiD lethal injections. This accounts for 4.1 percent of all deaths in the country for that year,a 31.2 percent increase from 2021.    

While the numbers for 2023 have yet to be released, all indications point to a situation even more grim than 2022. 

Meanwhile, the pro-life Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC)has  launched a campaign to have the expansion thrown out. The campaign includes a rally and media conference on Parliament Hill on February 6 at 11 a.m. local time. 

The movement also features a parliamentary postcard campaign, encouraging Canadians to  send letters stating: “I demand that the government reverse its decision to permit ‘MAiD’ for mental illness alone.”  

EPC also launched a petition to urge the Justice Minister  to offer real care to those suffering from mental illness and not death by lethal injection.

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Addictions

Trudeau gov’t earmarks over $27 million for ‘safe supply’ drug program linked to overdoses and violence

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

The taxpayer money will help fund 22 drug distribution projects in British Columbia and Ontario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is planning to spend over $27 million on “safe supply” drug programs this year.

This week, Health Canada revealed that the Trudeau government has budgeted over $27 million in funding for “safe supply” drug programs that have been linked to increased violence and overdose deaths across Canada, according to information obtained by Rebel News.

“With regard to planned funding by the government related to ‘safe’ or ‘safer’ supply programs: How much does the government plan on spending on such programs, broken down by department, agency, and initiative in the current fiscal year and in each of the next five fiscal years?” Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Tako Van Popta had questioned in April.

Safe supply” is the term used to refer to government-prescribed drugs given to addicts under the assumption that a more controlled batch of narcotics reduces the risk of overdose. Critics of the policy argue that giving addicts drugs only enables their behavior, puts the public at risk, disincentivizes recovery from addiction and has not reduced — and sometimes even increased — overdose deaths when implemented.

Three months later, on June 17, the House of Commons revealed that the Trudeau government plans to spend an excess of $27 million to fund 22 drug distribution projects in British Columbia and Ontario.

The two largest recipients of federal funding are in Ontario, with Toronto’s South Riverdale Community Health Centre receiving $2.7 million and Kitchener’s K-W Working Centre for the Unemployed receiving $2.1 million.

In British Columbia, the largest recipient is the AVI Health and Community Services Society SAFER North Island in Campbell River at $2.02 million.

The Trudeau government’s funding for increased drug use comes after the program proved such a disaster in British Columbia that the province recently requested Trudeau recriminalize drugs in public spaces. Nearly two weeks later, the Trudeau government announced it would “immediately” end the province’s drug program.

Beginning in early 2023, Trudeau’s federal policy, in effect, decriminalized hard drugs on a trial-run basis in British Columbia.

Since being implemented, the province’s drug policy has been widely criticized, especially after it was found that the province broke three different drug-related overdose records in the first month the new law was in effect.

The effects of decriminalizing hard drugs in various parts of Canada have been exposed in Aaron Gunn’s recent documentary, Canada is Dying, and in U.K. Telegraph journalist Steven Edginton’s mini-documentary, Canada’s Woke Nightmare: A Warning to the West.

Gunn says he documents the “general societal chaos and explosion of drug use in every major Canadian city.”

“Overdose deaths are up 1,000 percent in the last 10 years,” he said in his film, adding that “(e)very day in Vancouver four people are randomly attacked.”

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Fraser Institute

Enough talk, we need to actually do something about Canadian health care

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From the Macdonald Laurier Institute

By J. Edward Les for Inside Policy

Canada spends more on health care as a percentage of GDP than almost all other OECD countries, yet we rank behind most of them when it comes to outcomes that matter.

I drove a stretch of road near Calgary’s South Health Campus the other day, a section with a series of three intersections in a span of less than a few hundred metres. That is, I tried to drive it – but spent far more time idling than moving.

At each intersection, after an interminable wait, the light turned green just as the next one flipped to red, grinding traffic to a halt just after it got rolling. It was excruciating; I’m quite sure I spied a snail on crutches racing by – no doubt making a beeline (snail-line?) for the ER a stone’s throw away.

The street’s sluggishness is perhaps reflective of the hospital next to it, given that our once-cherished universal health care system has crumbled into a universal waiting system – a system seemingly crafted (like that road) to obstruct flow rather than enable it. In fact, the pace of medical care delivery in this country has become so glacial that even a parking lot by comparison feels like the Indianapolis Speedway.

The health care crisis grows more dire by the day. Reforms are long overdue. Canada spends more on health care as a percentage of GDP than almost all other OECD countries, yet we rank behind most of them when it comes to outcomes that matter.

And we’re paying with our lives: according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, thousands of Canadians die each and every year because of the inefficiencies of our system.

Yet for all that we are paralyzed by the enormity and complexity of the mushrooming disaster. We talk about solutions – and then we talk and talk some more. But for all the talking, precious little action is taken.

I’m reminded of an Anne Lamotte vignette, related in her bestselling book Bird By Bird:

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

So it is with Canadian health care: we’ve wasted years wringing our hands about the woeful state of affairs, while doing precious little about it.

Enough procrastinating. It’s time to tackle the crisis, bird by bird.

One thing we can do is to let doctors be doctors.  A few weeks ago, in a piece titled “Should Doctors Mind Their Own Business?”, I questioned the customary habit of doctors hanging out their shingles in small independent community practices. Physicians spend long years of training to master their craft, years during which they receive no training in business methods whatsoever, and then we expect them to master those skills off to the side of their exam rooms. Some do it well, but many do not – and it detracts from their attention to patients.

We don’t install newly minted teachers in classrooms and at the same time task them with the keeping the lights on, managing the supply chain, overseeing staffing and payroll, and all the other mechanics of running schools. Why do we expect that of doctors?

Keeping doctors embedded within large, expensive, inefficient, bureaucracy-choked hospitals isn’t the solution, either.

There’s a better way, I argued in my essay: regional medical centres – centres built and administered in partnership with the private sector.

Such centres would allow practitioners currently practicing in the community to ply their trade unencumbered by the nuts and bolts of running a business; and they would allow us to decant a host of services from hospitals, which should be reserved for what only hospitals can do: emergency services, inpatient care, surgeries, and the like.

In short, we should let doctors be doctors, and hospitals be hospitals.

To garner feedback, I dumped my musings into a couple of online physician forums to which I belong, tagged with the query: “Food for thought, or fodder for the compost bin?”

The verdict? Hands down, the compost bin.

I was a bit taken aback, initially. Offended, even – because who among us isn’t in love with their own ideas?

But it quickly became evident from my peers’ comments that I’d been misunderstood. Not because my doctor friends are dim, but because I hadn’t been clear.

When I proposed in my essay that we “leave the administration and day-to-day tasks of running those centres to business folks who know what they’re doing,” my colleagues took that to mean that doctors would be serving at the beck and call of a tranche of ill-informed government-enabled administrators – and they reacted to the notion with anaphylactic derision. And understandably so: too many of us have long and painful experience with thick layers of health care bureaucracy seemingly organized according to the Peter Principle, with people promoted to – and permanently stuck at – the level of their incompetence.

But I didn’t mean to suggest – not for a minute – that doctors shouldn’t be engaged in running these centres. I also wrote: “None of which is to suggest that doctors shouldn’t be involved, by aptitude and inclination, in influencing the set-up and management of regional centres – of course, they should.”

Of course they should. There are plenty of physicians equipped with both the skills and interest needed to administer these centres; and they should absolutely be front and centre in leading them.

But more than that: everyone should have skin in the game. All workers have the right to share in the success of an enterprise; and when they do, everybody wins.  When everyone is pulling in the same direction because everyone shares in the wins, waste and inefficiencies are rooted out like magic.

Contrast that to how hospitals are run, with scarcely anyone aware of the actual cost of the blood tests or CT scans they order or the packets of suture and gauze they rip open, and with the motivations of administrative staff, nurses, doctors, and other personnel running off in more directions than a flock of headless chickens. The capacity for waste and inefficiencies is almost limitless.

I don’t mean to suggest that the goal of regional medical centres should be to turn a profit; but fiscal prudence and economic accountability are to be celebrated, because money not wasted is money that can be allocated to enhancing patient care.

Nor do I mean to intimate that sensible resource management should be the only parameter tracked; patient outcomes and patient satisfaction are paramount.

What should government’s role be in all this? Initially, to incentivize the creation of these centres via public-private partnerships; and then, crucially, to encourage competition among them and to reward innovation and performance, with optimization of the three key metrics – patient outcomes, patient satisfaction, and economic accountability – always in focus.

No one should be mandated to work in non-hospital regional medical centres. It’s a free country (or it should be): doctors should be free to hang out their own community shingles if they wish. But if we build the model correctly, my contention is that most medical professionals will prefer to work collaboratively under one roof with a diverse group of colleagues, unencumbered by the mundanities of running a business, but also free of choking hospital bureaucracy.

I connected a couple weeks ago with the always insightful economist Jack Mintz (who is also a distinguished fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute). Mintz sits on the board of a Toronto-area hospital and sees first-hand “the problems with the lack of supply, population growth, long wait times between admission and getting a bed, emergency room overuse,” and so on.

“Something has to give,” he said. “Probably more resources but better managed. We really need major reform.”

On that we can all agree. We can’t carry on this way.

So, let’s stop idling; and let’s green-light some fixes.

As Samwise Gamgee said in The Lord of the Rings, “It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.”


Dr. J. Edward Les is a pediatrician in Calgary who writes on politics, social issues, and other matters.

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