B.C. increases income and disability assistance by $175 per month

The British Columbia government is increasing disability and income assistance rates by $175 per month, but is falling short of making the $300-per-month COVID-19 boost permanent.

Social Development Minister Nicholas Simons said Tuesday the increase will cost about $400 million per year and benefit more than 300,000 people.

It’s the largest ever permanent hike to income assistance and disability assistance rates in the province and will be applied starting in April.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 relief benefits meant to help people on income and disability assistance are coming to an end'

COVID-19 relief benefits meant to help people on income and disability assistance are coming to an end

COVID-19 relief benefits meant to help people on income and disability assistance are coming to an end – Dec 16, 2020

“This past year has been challenging for everyone, and especially so for those British Columbians already relying on assistance to make ends meet,” Simons said.

Story continues below advertisement

“Now that we are seeing signs of some economic recovery from COVID-19, it’s essential we provide the stability of a permanent rate increase for people and families, including 49,000 children who live in poverty.”

The province is also raising the seniors’ assistance supplement, by $50 a month per resident, for the first time since 1987.

This lifts the maximum rate for a single person from $49.30 to $99.30 per month and benefits up to 20,000 more low-income seniors.

Click to play video: 'B.C. cabinet minister defends decision to cut $300 in monthly COVID-19 income and disability assistance'

B.C. cabinet minister defends decision to cut $300 in monthly COVID-19 income and disability assistance

B.C. cabinet minister defends decision to cut $300 in monthly COVID-19 income and disability assistance – Dec 15, 2020

The temporary $300-per-month disability and income assistance benefit to help recipients deal with the pandemic expired in December.

Eligible British Columbians can still access the COVID-19 Recovery Benefit, which helps people based on income.

“This increase — the largest that people on income assistance and disability assistance have seen – is a critical piece in working toward the fulfilment of our province’s poverty reduction goals,” Together Against Poverty Society executive director Doug King said.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more:
Coronavirus: B.C. government still processing more than 330K applications for recovery benefit

As of April 1, a single person on income assistance will receive $935 per month and a single person on disability assistance will receive $1,358.42.

A couple on income assistance will receive $1,427.22 per month and a couple on disability assistance will receive $1,947.56, after increases of $350 per month.

A single parent with one child will receive $1,270.58 if on income assistance and $1,694.08 if on disability assistance, plus up to $697 in federal and provincial child benefits.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Source link

Questions on bilingualism dominate N.B. languages commissioner’s committee appearance – New Brunswick

New Brunswick’s official languages commissioner faced multiple questions about bilingualism from MLAs during an appearance before the committee on privileges, procedures and legislative officers on Tuesday.

But bilingualism does not feature in the Official Languages Act, which only prescribes that New Brunswickers be able to access government services in the official language of their choice and has nothing to do with how many speak both languages.

“We deal with complaints from individuals who allege failures under the act, so individuals that are unable to get services in the language of their choice,” commissioner Shirley MacLean said during her appearance.

MacLean appeared before the committee to answer questions on her office’s annual report, released in December.

Read more:
N.B. languages commissioner reports complaints related to COVID-19 briefings

Story continues below advertisement

The sole question from the government benches came from Sherry Wilson, who asked what role MacLean has in addressing “the issues in English New Brunswick” around French-language education.

“What people have to keep in mind is the Official Languages Act is not about bilingualism,” MacLean said.

“The education system is excluded from the act. That being said, I certainly will not be hesitating, if I’m given permission to do so, to promote bilingualism in schools.”

The tension between what is and isn’t part of the act was also apparent during questions from People’s Alliance MLA Michelle Conroy, who asked what the commissioner’s role is in ensuring those who only speak one of the two official languages can find work.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: New Brunswick’s top doctor urges people stay near home for March break amid variant concerns'

Coronavirus: New Brunswick’s top doctor urges people stay near home for March break amid variant concerns

Coronavirus: New Brunswick’s top doctor urges people stay near home for March break amid variant concerns

“Our office doesn’t deal with employment matters,” MacLean replied.

Story continues below advertisement

“The act exists to ensure that both linguistic communities are able to receive services from government in the language of their choice.”

The questions and further comments from Wilson, including that she hears complaints from anglophones who have lost their jobs because they are unable to speak French, drew comment from Liberal MLA Jean-Claude D’Amours, who mused that education on the scope of the act may be necessary for MLAs.

Wilson shot back, saying she has “read it a couple of times and (does) understand it,” claiming that MacLean could be helpful in addressing concerns about the lack of anglophones who become fluent in French.

“Moving forward, to find real solutions, we need all work together and I’m hoping with the review that this is done in a way that some of the real challenges will be met,” Wilson said.

“What I would love to see is a committee set up to maybe work to address that not everyone in the province is bilingual.”

Read more:
New Brunswick premier to appoint two commissioners to review Official Languages Act

Premier Blaine Higgs has, in some ways, muddied the waters as the province prepares to embark on the legally mandated review of the Official Languages Act.

Story continues below advertisement

Higgs said he wants the review to examine how more of the province can become bilingual, even if that’s not included in the legal parameters.

“It’s like, let’s just think outside of the box a little bit and the educational process we know is key to that and let’s just not tie our hands,” Higgs told reporters when the first steps of the review were announced.

The review has yet to begin as the province continues to search for two commissioners to lead it and must be completed by the end of the year.

Click to play video 'Bilingualism petition dispute shows challenges of managing expectations, says Kris Austin'

Bilingualism petition dispute shows challenges of managing expectations, says Kris Austin

Bilingualism petition dispute shows challenges of managing expectations, says Kris Austin – Feb 3, 2020

The previous review, conducted under the Alward government, took two years to complete.

MacLean voiced some concern over the inclusion of education in the review, and over the timeline, saying that she understands how long reviews of legislation can take due to her training as a lawyer.

Story continues below advertisement

She also backed a recommendation from former commissioner Michel Carrier that a standing committee on official languages be created to deal with issues and reviews of the act. Both the Liberals and the Greens have voiced support for such a committee.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Source link

Canadian senators to vote on assisted dying bill Feb. 17 as deadline looms – National

Senators have agreed to put a bill to expand access to medical assistance in dying to a final vote by Feb. 17, but they’ve signalled their intention to propose substantial amendments.

The agreed date for the vote will leave just over a week for the House of Commons to deal with any amendments approved by the Senate before a thrice-extended, court-imposed deadline of Feb. 26.

It’s a tight timetable that could yet make it impossible to meet the court deadline.

Read more:
Canadian Senate committee accepts assisted dying bill but amendments still to come

Senators, who began final debate Monday, will begin dealing with the amendments to Bill C-7 on Tuesday.

An amended version of the bill would have to go back to the House of Commons for MPs to decide whether to accept or reject the amendments before shipping it back to the Senate, where senators would have to decide whether to approve the bill even if some or all of their amendments were rejected.

Story continues below advertisement

In theory, the bill could bounce repeatedly back and forth between chambers.

The bill is intended to bring the law into compliance with a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling that struck down a provision allowing assisted dying only for those whose natural death is “reasonably foreseeable.”

It scraps that provision but retains the foreseeable death concept to set up two sets of rules for eligibility: more relaxed rules for those who are near death and more stringent rules for those who are not.

It would also expressly prohibit assisted dying for individuals who are suffering solely from mental illnesses.

Sen. Marc Gold, the government’s representative in the Senate, acknowledged that some senators think the bill goes too far, while others think it doesn’t go far enough. But he said, to his mind, that divergence of opinion demonstrates that the bill has struck the right balance.

Click to play video 'Health Matters: end-of-life planning in light of COVID-19'

Health Matters: end-of-life planning in light of COVID-19

Health Matters: end-of-life planning in light of COVID-19 – Jun 18, 2020

“The bottom line is that it is a reasonable, prudent proposal that achieves a complex balancing of rights … Bill C-7 is neither too hot, nor too cold, but just the right temperature,” Gold said during Monday’s debate.

Story continues below advertisement

Gold further suggested that unelected senators should be cautious about tinkering with the bill, noting it was supported by two-thirds of elected MPs from all parties in the House of Commons, giving it “a strong democratic stamp of approval.”

But Sen. Pierre Dalphond, a former judge who sits in the Progressive Senate Group, argued that the exclusion of those suffering solely from mental illnesses is unconstitutional, violating their right to equal treatment under the law regardless of physical or mental disability.

Dalphond said he believes it’s reasonable to propose a sunset clause to put a time limit on that exclusion, giving the government time to come up with guidelines for providing assisted dying to people with mental illnesses.

And he said he’ll introduce another amendment to specify that the ill-defined concept of mental illness does not include neuro-congnitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

Read more:
Senator questions assisted dying sedative linked to botched U.S. executions

There is support among senators for referring the bill to the Supreme Court for advice on its constitutionality, both from those who think it’s too restrictive and those who think it’s too permissive.

Sen. Don Plett, leader of the Conservatives in the Senate, questioned why senators are rushing to expand access to what he termed “physician-induced death,” based on “a lower court decision made by one judge in one province” that the government chose not to appeal.

Story continues below advertisement

He implored his colleagues to listen to disability rights advocates who have denounced the bill for sending the “harmful and tragic message” that the lives of people with disabilities are not worth living.

Plett argued that extending access before improving palliative care and support services for people with disabilities will make it “easier to die than to live” and doesn’t give vulnerable people a real choice.

Click to play video 'Bill aims to ease rules in Canada’s medically-assisted dying laws'

Bill aims to ease rules in Canada’s medically-assisted dying laws

Bill aims to ease rules in Canada’s medically-assisted dying laws – Feb 25, 2020

Conservative Sen. Denise Batters said it’s “disgraceful” that the government is pushing a bill to expand access to assisted dying in the midst of a pandemic, when vulnerable people are even more “alone, isolated and economically disadvantaged” and with even less access to support services.

She argued that Black, racialized, Indigenous and poor Canadians with disabilities, “people who have been routinely pushed to the margins of our society,” are “crying out to us for help but they don’t want help to die, they want help to live.”

Story continues below advertisement

However, Sen. Chantal Petitclerc, a former Paralympian who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, noted that the court ruling to which the bill is responding was triggered by Nicole Gladu and Jean Truchon, two Quebecers with severe disabilities.

Read more:
Senate vote on assisted dying bill delayed to February due to Quebec ruling

Petitclerc, a member of the Independent Senators Group, said senators can’t ignore the inequalities that exist in society or the lack of support services that can exacerbate suffering.

But she said she believes the government has correctly chosen to permit assisted dying “in order to respect the autonomy of those who choose it freely as a release from intolerable suffering,” rather than prohibit it for all people with disabilities “until all support and all resources are available.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Source link

Ontario looking to introduce digital ID program, seeking public input

The Ontario government says it is looking for the public’s input on a possible digital ID program that would allow for people to prove who they are online much easier.

The hope is that the program will be introduced by the end of 2021.

The program will allow for people to “securely and conveniently prove their identity online,” according to the Ford government. It will also help people to be able to access things online rather than have to travel to do things in-person, the government said, such as a small business applying for a license or a parent looking for information on their child’s immunization records.

Read more:
Vehicle sticker or driver’s licence expired in 2020? Both still legal in Ontario for now

“We want to assure people that a digital ID will not only offer simpler and easier access to services, but it will be safe and secure, encrypted and harnessing the latest technology to protect your information and credentials,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, minister responsible for Digital and Data Transformation.

Story continues below advertisement

The government said it will also help with COVID-19 safety protocols, as it limits in-person contact.

The public can weigh in online through surveys provided by the government here from now until Feb. 26.

The government said the program will also help to combat identity fraud and protect Ontarians data. They also said it has the potential to add $4.5 billion of value to the “small-and-medium-size enterprises sector nationally.”

Read more:
Questions raised about new support staff hiring for Ontario schools reopening amid COVID-19 pandemic

“By using this innovative technology, users will be in full control of what identity information is shared and with whom,” the statement read.

The digital ID program will be voluntary and for those who do not wish to participate, they can still use physical documents to prove identity.

“As we develop this initiative, we want to hear directly from the people to ensure their priorities are reflected in this innovative, digital approach,” Bethlenfalvy continued. “No one has a monopoly on good ideas and we are prepared to listen.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Source link

Nova Scotia first province to adopt Hansen Foundation curriculum in schools

HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s Education Department is teaming up with the Rick Hansen Foundation to provide inclusion and accessibility teaching materials to the province’s schools.

The free online programs include access to foundation ambassadors and to a series of lesson plan ideas for primary and high schools. In a virtual news conference Tuesday, Hansen said the province is the first in the country to officially incorporate his foundation’s resources into its school curriculum.

“You are really taking an opportunity to educate the next generation of young difference makers who will normalize this issue,” Hansen said. “The reality is it is a multigenerational, ultra-marathon of social change.”

Hansen said the program contains information that should be available to “everyone, everywhere,” adding that it is now available in English and in French in every province and territory. His foundation’s resources, he said, have been used in 5,500 schools and by 12,000 teachers.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more:
Accessibility advocates say Peggy’s Cove viewing deck will ensure safe access for all

“I want to encourage teachers to continue to explore the resources and utilize them and bring them to life in your classroom,” Hansen said. The curriculum program for each grade contains lessons about such things as empathy and it is designed to inspire students to actively promote social change.

Leah Fumerton, who teachers Grades 1 and 2 at Fairview Heights Elementary in Halifax, says she notices a genuine desire among her students to promote inclusion and accessibility. She says students want to better understand the experiences of those who don’t feel included.

“I see in them a want to question what is around us,” Fumerton said. “It’s critical for us to band together and make school inclusion possible.”

Education Minister Zach Churchill said the program is part of the province’s broader accessibility agenda and commitment to make Nova Scotia more inclusive.

“We’ve invested heavily into new, inclusive education supports, teachers and non-teaching support staff in our system,” he said. “I think how we approach teaching and learning around this subject can be equally impactful.”

Click to play video 'Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour'

Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour

Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour – May 22, 2019

Hansen rose to fame through his Man in Motion World Tour between 1985 and 1987, which saw the wheelchair athlete cover 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries to raise awareness about the potential of people with disabilities.

Story continues below advertisement

More than 30 years later, he said many barriers to inclusivity remain in Canadian society. “To be able to formalize this (education) program and to embed it in core curriculum objectives is the ultimate … in helping to contribute to the Canada that we want,” Hansen said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Source link

Accessibility advocates say Peggy’s Cove viewing deck will ensure safe access for all – Halifax

The recent public announcement of a multimillion-dollar project that would see an accessible viewing deck constructed at Peggy’s Cove, has been met with plenty of different views and opinions.

Following the announcement, Michelle Paul, a Mi’kmaw water protector, raised concern over the possibility of construction damaging areas where Mi’kmaq harvest sweetgrass, one of their sacred medicines.

The Crown corporation behind the project, Develop Nova Scotia, says they’ve taken Paul’s concern seriously and have verified that the deck won’t impact sweetgrass areas and they’re also working to ensure no other sweetgrass areas will be impacted.

Read more:
Mi’kmaq fear new Peggy’s Cove boardwalk could endanger sacred medicine

On Saturday, a small group of protesters met outside of Peggy’s Cove, masked and distanced with RCMP officers also on-site, to express their concerns over the roughly 14,000 square-foot accessible deck.

Story continues below advertisement

Develop Nova Scotia has repeatedly stated that 85 per cent of the build will be on the existing roadway. The organization says discussions about the deck were open to the public, including a one-week period in February 2019 where the public could talk to architects, planners, and other team members about the project. This public event was held during the 2019 Peggy’s Cove Design Week.

For the most part, those who gathered on Saturday aren’t in favour of the accessible viewing deck project.

“Accessibility is always good for everybody but let’s keep it reasonable and try not to destroy the beauty,” Peter Stokeijk said, who participated in the protest, said.

A number of infrastructure enhancement projects are underway in the community of Peggy’s Cove. From roadway upgrades to the addition of new accessible washrooms.

Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Wheelchair citizen, Darrel MacDonald, says he agrees with civil discourse, especially when it comes to taxpayer dollars being spent, but doesn’t agree with able-bodied persons adamantly opposing a project that’s rooted in improving accessibility.

Story continues below advertisement

“It screams ableism to me. Take five minutes to understand that this is going to be beneficial to everybody,” MacDonald said.

Read more:
Nova Scotia, feds investing $3.1M for construction of viewing deck on Peggy’s Cove shore

MacDonald has been in a wheelchair ever since he experienced a military accident 22 years ago. Since that time, he says he’s only been able to see Peggy’s Cove from the parking lot. An area that makes him fear for his safety because of how jam-packed it can be.

“Especially with big trucks and the buses because I’m at a lower height and so a lot of people can’t see me. With a viewing deck, I’m not worried about that,” he said.

The deck is being constructed out of wood and steel and Develop Nova Scotia says it will create a public space that is fully accessible and safe for all visitors.

The protesters are calling for more public engagement. Develop Nova Scotia is hosting a virtual public engagement session to discuss the project on January 28. They are asking people to register in advance to participate.

Click to play video 'Group of protestors gathered at iconic Peggy’s Cove Saturday'

Group of protestors gathered at iconic Peggy’s Cove Saturday

Group of protestors gathered at iconic Peggy’s Cove Saturday

Fellow wheelchair citizens Brian George and Paul Vienneau say the project falls in line with Nova Scotia’s mandate to make the province fully accessible and barrier-free by 2030.

Story continues below advertisement

“When you improve accessibility for supposedly one group, my group, you actually improve it for all groups because we all benefit from the ease of access,” Vienneau said.

George echos Vienneau.

“Everybody needs to be included and that’s exactly what this is about. Everybody needs to be able to do what everyone else can do and this is just one of those things that’s going to make that happen,” he said.

Both George and Vienneau says they are looking forward to enjoying the fresh salty air and shoreline splendor Peggy’s Cove has to offer from the safety of an elevated, flat and accessible platform.

“This project is going to allow a bunch of people to take part in a fuller part of their lives,” Vienneau said.

Develop Nova Scotia aims to have the project completed by June 2021.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Source link

New Brunswick PC majority removes thrust of opposition’s abortion motion, reference to Clinic 554

New Brunswick’s PC government removed the thrust of an opposition motion calling on the province to fund surgical abortions outside of the province’s hospitals on Thursday.

A non-binding motion from the Liberal party called for the funding of abortions at Clinic 554 and the repeal of Regulation 84-20, which prohibits the funding of abortions outside of hospitals.

Currently, abortions are only funded by the provincial government at three locations: two hospitals in Moncton and one hospital in Bathurst, locations that critics say limit accessibility for those who need the procedure.

Read more:
New Brunswick Medical Society warns of health-care gaps after Clinic 554 closes

Clinic 554, which has already partially shut down as a result of a lack of funding, performed surgical abortions and also functioned as a family practice and resource centre for LGBTQ2 patients across the province.

Story continues below advertisement

New Brunswick is the only province in Canada that does not fund abortions outside of hospitals.

Isabelle Thériault, Liberal MLA for Caraquet who tabled the initial motion, says the status quo violates the rights of women in New Brunswick.

“It is a twilight zone, honestly. I am coming here in 2020 to debate about reproductive health — it blows my mind,” she said on Thursday.

She pleaded for the nine PC MLAs to support her motion.

“I hope that the women here who have gone into politics did it to advance the cause of women. Otherwise, what are we doing here?” she said.

Click to play video 'Clinic 554 shuts down after months of advocacy efforts for abortion rights'

Clinic 554 shuts down after months of advocacy efforts for abortion rights

Clinic 554 shuts down after months of advocacy efforts for abortion rights – Oct 2, 2020

But PC MLAs voted to remove references to Clinic 554 and the repeal of Regulation 84-20. Instead, they substituted it for a request to the province’s two health authorities to look at whether the province’s current abortion access complies with the Canada Health Act.

Story continues below advertisement

The federal government has repeatedly said the status quo violates the act.

Ottawa had reduced the Canada Health Transfer to New Brunswick by $140,216, as a result of patient charges for abortion services provided outside of hospitals in 2017.

Funding was only temporarily restored as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the pressure it placed on the health-care system.

Other organizations have asked the province to fund abortions at Clinic 554, including one of the health authorities the province asked to examine the status of abortion access.

The board of Horizon Health passed a motion in Oct. 2019 that supported the clinic, saying the board would “advocate to the government of New Brunswick for payment to physicians to provide abortion services in a quality and safe environment outside of hospitals.”

The provincial government did not act on the motion.

Read more:
Civil liberties group launches legal action against N.B. for greater abortion access

A civil liberties group has a lawsuit in the works challenging the province’s lack of access to abortion.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association sent a letter dated Oct. 29 and statement of claim to the province’s attorney general.

Story continues below advertisement

Michael Bryant, the group’s executive director, told the Canadian Press at the time that the organization wants the province to repeal its regulations on abortion and give wider access to the procedure.

“We gave the government the chance to do the right thing but sadly they have given us no other option,” he said.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Source link

Constitutional challenges to assisted dying bill inevitable: Government Senate rep – National

The government’s representative in the Senate concedes it’s possible that a bill to expand access to medically assisted dying may be struck down as unconstitutional by the courts.

But while parliamentarians must be guided by court rulings, Sen. Marc Gold argued Tuesday they also have a duty to try to balance competing rights and interests.

In Bill C-7, he contended, the government has struck a “reasonable and responsible balance” between the autonomy of intolerably suffering Canadians who are not near death and the need to protect the most vulnerable individuals.

Read more:
Assisted dying bill likely to face flurry of amendments from both sides in Senate

Gold, a former constitutional law professor, gave a lengthy speech in the Senate devoted almost entirely to the constitutionality of the bill. He noted that some senators believe the bill is unconstitutional because it is too permissive, others because it’s too restrictive.

Story continues below advertisement

“I understand very well that there are very good arguments on both sides of many of these issues,” he told the Senate.

Gold said court challenges to the constitutional validity of Bill C-7 are “inescapable” but it’s impossible to predict how the courts might rule on it.

“For better and for worse, the courts will continue to be seized with this issue as individuals and groups seek to vindicate their constitutional rights, however they conceive them,” he said.

“But this cannot be a reason for government and for Parliament to abdicate their responsibilities to legislate in good faith and in the best interests of Canadians.”

Bill C-7 is intended to bring the law into compliance with a September 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling, which struck down the provision that allows MAID only for those whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable.

Click to play video 'Health Matters: end-of-life planning in light of COVID-19'

Health Matters: end-of-life planning in light of COVID-19

Health Matters: end-of-life planning in light of COVID-19 – Jun 18, 2020

The bill would scrap the near-death requirement but would retain the concept to create two eligibility tracks for MAID: somewhat relaxed rules for people who are close to death and more stringent rules for those who aren’t.

Story continues below advertisement

The bill specifically prohibits MAID for people suffering solely from mental illnesses, an exclusion some senators believe is a violation of equality rights. Some also believe the more stringent eligibility rules for people not near the end of life are also unconstitutional.

On the other side of the equation, some senators echo the concerns of disability rights groups in contending that the bill is unconstitutional because it singles out people with disabilities as the only ones eligible for MAID when they are not approaching the end of life.

“As any student of the charter (of rights and freedoms) will know, arguments about rights _ and especially equality rights _ are inherently controversial and predicting how a court might rule is a very risky business,” Gold said.

He laid out the government’s justification for excluding people suffering solely from mental illness, arguing that the trajectory of their conditions is uncertain and that a desire to die can be a symptom of the illness.

He argued that the exclusion can be justified as a reasonable limit on rights, as allowed under the charter, because it is “neither arbitrary, over-broad or grossly disproportionate.”

Still, he acknowledged the possibility that it could be struck down as a violation of equality rights or the right to life, liberty and security of the person, notwithstanding the government’s view.

Story continues below advertisement

“The government is aware that there are strong constitutional opinions to the contrary and that the arguments against this aspect of C-7 are worthy of serious consideration and debate,” Gold said.

“I certainly have wrestled with them, as should we all.”

He promised that amendments to improve the bill would be seriously considered by the government.

Sen. Stan Kutcher, a psychiatrist who is a member of the Independent Senators Group, told the Senate that the exclusion of people suffering solely from mental illness is unacceptable and “dehumanizing.”

Read more:
Assisted dying bill passes House of Commons after filibuster delay

“It perpetuates centuries-long stigmatization of those living with mental disorders as incompetent and incapable beings,” he said.

The reasons the government gives for the exclusion apply to people with physical illnesses as well, Kutcher argued, noting that “the presence of a severe and chronic illness is, by itself, an elevated risk factor for suicide.”

He promoted the idea of adding a sunset clause, giving time for adequate guidelines to be developed for allowing MAID to people suffering solely from mental illness.

But that was “vehemently opposed” by Conservative Sen. Denise Batters, whose husband, former MP Dave Batters, took his own life after battling depression and anxiety.

Story continues below advertisement

“I have seen up close the failures of our mental health system,” she said, citing costs, stigma and a lack of resources.

“The answer those barriers is to fix that system, not to confirm a mentally ill patient’s feelings of hopelessness and offer them the lethal means to suicide.”

Batters also argued that the bill makes people with disabilities “second-class citizens.”

Gold acknowledged the concerns of some senators that people with disabilities can’t make a real choice about ending their lives because they’re not given adequate access to palliative care or support services.

But while it’s important to improve such services, he said that issue falls under provincial jurisdiction and can’t be addressed through the Criminal Code.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

Source link

RCMP slammed for access-to-information failures

Federal Information Commissioner Caroline Maynard issued scathing criticism against the RCMP this week, tabling a report looking into the force’s failures and violations of the Access to Information Act. Dawna Friesen looks at the setbacks that have prompted the commissioner to call for an “urgent change of course.”

Source link

Trudeau responds to commissioner’s report on RCMP handling of information requests

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government would be examining the recommendations by the information commissioner in a scathing report on the RCMP’s handling of access to information requests, saying they would then implement those that help restore Canadians’ confidence in the access to information system.

Source link