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Netser calls proposed changes to federal assistance in dying legislation a 'slippery slope'

Patterk NesterNunavut election 2017
The federal government would be making a mistake by allowing those with severe mental disorders to be eligible for medical assistance in dying, says Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser. photo courtesy of Patterk Nester

Patterk Netser is “profoundly opposed” to proposed changes the Government of Canada may enact in its medical assistance in dying legislation and he made his feelings clear in the legislative assembly on Thursday.

The government is considering allowing people with incurable and unbearable mental illness to be eligible for legally ending their own lives.

“I am deeply concerned that our federal government is heading on a slippery slope to a society where we tell people who suffer from these conditions that the answer is death,” said Netser, the MLA for the Aivilik riding. “Those suffering mental anguish usually have room to improve, and this is a dangerous slope and deeply concerning because many people who are already depressed are finding openings. They feel that death is the only release from their suffering. This is becoming a very alarming mental health challenge … our suicide rate is already far too high, and I firmly reject the idea that people in crisis should be at risk of making a terrible decision that cannot be undone.”

He added that he’s also worried about Elders – many of whom are unilingual Inuktitut speakers – being sent out of territory for care may be put in situations where medical assistance in dying is presented as an option.

“It’s unthinkable,” Netser said. “This is not acceptable to me.”

Although the legislation is federal responsibility, he argued that it’s worthwhile for territorial politicians to speak firmly on such matters.

“I do believe that we have the duty and responsibility as elected members to express our position on an issue that impacts every citizen of the country,” he said. “I want to conclude by calling on our government to make its voice clearly heard on this issue, which is literally one of life and death.”

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