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Wednesday
May302018

Ontario: Man denied assisted life, offered death instead 

Roger Foley (Supplied Photo)

By Alex Schadenberg

A man who lives with cerebellar ataxia, a degenerative neurological condition that affects motor control, has launched a lawsuit naming the London Health Sciences Centre and the Southwest Regional Local Health Integration Network, stating that they are offering him assisted death (Medical Assistancein Dying or MAiD) but they are not willing to provide him with an assisted life.

Roger Foley, 42, alleges that the government-selected home care provider has caused numerous dangers:

“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, [an actual] fire, and I have been injured during exercises and transfers. When I report(ed) these things to the agency, I would not get a response.”

When he objected to certain workers, the agency would threaten to send him no one at all. This left him feeling suicidal.

Unwilling to continue living at home with the help of that home-care provider, and eager to leave the London hospital where he’s been cloistered for two years, Foley is suing the hospital, several health agencies and the attorneys general of both Ontario and Canada in the hope of being given the opportunity to set up a health care team to help him live at home again – a request he claims he has previously been denied.

“I have no desire to take up a valuable hospital bed,” Foley explained. “But at this point, it’s my only option.”

Foley has been offered euthanasia (MAiD), but Foley does not want to die – he simply wants to live at home.

“Unfortunately, the Ontario health-care system and the Ontario home-care system has broken my spirit and sent my life into a void of bureaucracy accompanied by a lack of accountability and oversight,” he told CTV News. 

Foley has asked to manage his own home care team. Doing that is called “self-directed care,” and Ontario recently created an agency called Self-Directed Personal Support Services Ontario (SDPSSO) to help co-ordinate such activities.

“I need self-directed funding in order to return to my home. I need to be able to hire my own workers to build my (home) care to work with me.”

Foley’s lawyer, Ken Berger, doesn’t understand why they have not offered a solution for Foley. 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. Refusing to leave the hospital and unwilling to die by a doctor’s hand, Foley claims he has been threatened with a $1,800 per day hospital bill, which is roughly the non-OHIP daily rate for a hospital stay.

Foley’s statement of claim also alleges that his Charter rights “to life, liberty and security of the person” were violated when he was offered the above options without being given the chance to create a “safe and available self-directed assisted care option that would substantially alleviate his irremediable and intolerable suffering.”   TAP

Alex Schadenberg is Executive Director of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

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