Ontario man files lawsuit against health officials who offered euthanasia after refusing home care
16 March 2018
Mr Foley says he wants assisted life, not death
Is this how we want the vulnerable to be treated?
An Ontario man with an incurable neurological disease is suing health officials for the right to choose his home healthcare team, as well the attorney generals of Ontario and Canada for offering medically-assisted death without guaranteeing the option to receive proper care.
42 year old Roger Foley suffers from cerebellar ataxia, a brain disorder that limits his ability to move his arms and legs. He has been forced to live in hospital for two years, after his government-selected home care provider failed to provide proper care, he says.
"I have been given the wrong medications, I have been provided food where I got food poisoning, I’ve had workers fall asleep in my living room, burners and appliances constantly left on, a fire, and I have been injured during exercises and transfers," said Mr Foley from his bed at the London Health Science Centre’s Victoria Hospital in a video that was recently posted online. "When I report(ed) these things to the agency, I would not get a response."
Refusing to live at home with that healthcare provider, Mr Foley is suing for the right to set up his own health care team - a request he claims he has previously been denied. According to Mr Foley’s statement of claim, the only two options offered to him have been a "forced discharge" from the hospital "to work with contracted agencies that have failed him" or medically assisted death.
"My condition is grievous and irremediable," he said. "But the solution is assisted life with self-directed funding."
...Instead of care
His lawyer, Ken Berger added, "Before anyone… can even be considered for assisted death, they need to have all necessary services provided to help them relieve their substantial suffering. There are serious constitutional violations that we’re alleging, and we believe that the current provisions for assisted dying are unconstitutional because it doesn’t require that necessary services are put in place to relieve someone’s suffering first."
Commentators are saying the case proves the lack of safeguards in the assisted suicide system. Trudo Lemmens, a professor and Scholl Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, said Mr Foley's allegations are "very troubling."
"If true, we would have here an instance of a patient receiving an offer for MAID (medical assistance in dying) while the patient precisely complains about receiving substandard levels of care," he said. "MAID should not be introduced as an option to someone who complains about sub-standard care and clearly not to someone who is suicidal."
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