Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York wasn’t the only government that inflicted blatant harm and unnecessary death on elders during during the Covid pandemic. Quebec did too. From the Toronto Sun story:
“Systemic ageism,” outdated health-care facilities and government reforms contributed to the tragedy that unfolded in the province’s long-term care homes during the first wave of COVID-19, a former Quebec health minister told a coroner’s inquest on Monday.
Réjean Hébert, who is also a gerontologist, told coroner Géhane Kamel that nearly 10 per cent of the province’s long-term care patients died of COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic — a rate five times higher compared to Canada as a whole.
It didn’t start with Covid:
Hébert, who served as health minister under former premier Pauline Marois, said that even before the pandemic there was a tendency to shift health-care resources toward other priorities, leading to a lack of doctors and nurses to care for vulnerable seniors in care homes. As a result, the homes were no longer able to provide acute care, forcing them to transfer distressed patients to hospital, which was “extremely difficult” for those with cognitive impairments, he said.
Hébert also pointed to outdated facilities where patients were subjected to inadequate ventilation and forced to share bedrooms and bathrooms as factors that contributed to Quebec’s high mortality rate.
Now, do you think that this clear warning about the threat to elders caused by “systemic ageism” will be applied as Quebec and the rest of Canada expand access to euthansia among the elderly? Is Putin a friend of Ukraine?
The media will often report in detail and with righteous indignation about varied failings and abuses in health-care systems — such as the drumbeat of criticism often seen against HMOs in the states. But these crucial questions are often forgotten once the subject turns to euthanasia.
I call this phenomenon “Euthanasia Land,” a magical realm of chirping birds and butterflies, where systemic failures in health-care and social policy disappear and life terminations happen only under the most rigorous protective guidelines and by the most deeply caring and compassionate medical personnel.
But Euthanasia Land isn’t real. The crises reported in this story have equal impact on doctor-prescribed death as they do lapses in proper care. They are just far less discussed.
Consider the Canadian woman who was euthanized because she didn’t want to be lonely during Covid lockdowns. She wasn’t allowed family visitors while she was alive, but they were allowed to be with her when her doctor killed her. She wasn’t the only such victim, either. A Canadian government study found that hundreds of people who died by euthanasia in 2019 requested death at least in part due to loneliness and isolation.
But none of that stops the death juggernaut. When these horrors are reported, which isn’t often, they are soon forgotten.
Would it have been too much for the critics of the elder-care in Quebec — and the reporter, for that matter — to connect these crucial dots, and thereby open a vital conversation about how these same systemic problems also impact the provision of euthanasia?
I’ll bet the thought didn’t occur to them because, somehow, it never does.
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