Poll finds Canadians want to kill the pain, not the patient
Canadians want improved access to end of life care, but worry about the impact of legalized euthanasia on the elderly, according to a new poll. The Environics poll found 95% of respondents want the government to make palliative and hospice care for the dying a high (66%) or medium (29%) priority.
Studies show fewer than a third of Canadians have good access to palliative care, which can provide pain relief, emotional and comfort care, and relief of suffering at the end of life.
In contrast to the strong support for palliative care, three-quarters of those polled worry that legalizing euthanasia could worsen the growing social problem of elder abuse. Large majorities in all areas of the country express concern that elderly persons in abusive situations would be pressured to consent to euthanasia. Women (78%) are more likely than men (73%) to be concerned.
The federal government’s definition of elder abuse was used in the poll: “abusive or controlling behaviour a person in a position of trust - such as a family member of caregiver - that causes an older adult physical or emotional harm of loss of property or assets.”
The large poll sample of 2,000 Canadians, conducted in September for LifeCanada, has a margin of error of +/- 2.2% 19 times out of 20.
In the poll 74% also said they worry that if the law against euthanasia changed, a significant number of elderly, sick and disabled persons would actually be euthanized without their consent. An overwhelming majority - 82% - opposed legalizing euthanasia when the patient does not consent. Of those 64% are strongly opposed.
“Legalized euthanasia will bring us something no one wants - killing without consent,” said LifeCanada president Monica Roddis. “Holland and Belgium have shown that. They start out legalizing it only with consent, then slide into doing it without consent on those whose quality of life is considered low. And the excuses for taking a patient’s life keep expanding: the Dutch Medical Association now accepts loneliness as a criterion.”
“We sincerely hope that our Canadian concern for the elderly and weaker members of society will prevent us from opening the door to medicalized killing.”
“As a country we need to focus on killing the pain, not the one in pain,” Roddis said. “That’s what good palliative care can do. It’s a travesty that it is not more accessible to all Canadians.”
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Contacts: Monica Roddis, President, 604-853-7985 Peter Ryan, Board Member, 506-459-8990
A copy of the Environics report, Canadians’ Attitudes Towards Euthanasia, is attached.