Canadian Man Claims Assisted Suicide is Being Pushed on Him by Hospital

By Michael Kaplan
November 8, 2022

Roger Foley alleges in a lawsuit that health-care workers at the government-affiliated Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario, Canada, encouraged him to end his life rather than rack up a costly medical bill.

Roger Foley does not want to die yet – but he claims that the Canadian government is encouraging him to end it all.

“I’ve been pressured to do an assisted suicide,” he told The Post, alleging this happened with caretakers at Victoria Hospital, a primarily government-funded center in London, Ontario.

“They asked if I want an assisted death. I don’t. I was told that I would be charged $1,800 per day [for hospital care]. I have $2 million worth of bills. Nurses here told me that I should end my life. That shocked me.”

Foley’s claims to The Post echo his allegations in a lawsuit filed against Victoria Hospital Health Services Centre, among others, in which he claims that healthcare workers have pushed him to end his life.

A hospital spokesperson told The Post, “We are unable to provide a comment specific to a patient in order to ensure privacy and confidentiality – As per Canadian law, our healthcare teams are prepared to have conversations regarding Medically Assisted in Dying with patients who verbally express an interest in exploring this option – If the patient does not verbally express an interest or changes their mind, our healthcare team will not engage in these conversations.”

While Foley – who suffers from cerebellar ataxia, a disease that attacks the brain and muscles – has Ontario’s provincially funded insurance, OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan), it pays only for “basic medical and emergency services,” he said. The 47-year-old has been bedridden for around six years and needs continual help in order to eat, wash and sit up.

Assisted suicide has been legal in Canada since 2016. According to Forbes, Canada leads the world in assisted suicides, with 10,064 in 2021 as compared to 7,666 in the Netherlands. Eighty-one percent of global requests for medically-induced deaths were honored in Canada.

Tim Stainton, director of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship at the University of British Columbia, described the law as “probably the biggest existential threat to disabled people since the Nazis’ program in Germany in the 1930s.”

“Mr. Foley was told by hospital staff that he had stayed at the hospital for too long and if he did not receive self-directed funding [from local agencies, covering home care], he should apply for assisted death as an option,” the lawsuit claims.

It goes on to accuse the defendants of “sending a collection agency after [Foley] to pressure him into a medically assisted death,” adding that “defendants have violated [Foley’s] rights and freedom.”

Canada now leads the world in the number of legally assisted suicides. Marie-Claude Landry, head of Canada’s Human Rights Commission, has said it “cannot be a default for Canada’s failure to fulfill its human rights obligation.”

Canada Human Rights Commission

The pro-euthanasia group, Dying with Dignity, says that euthanasia procedures are “driven by compassion, an end to suffering and discrimination, and desire for personal autonomy.” But human-rights advocates argue that legalized euthanasia has gone too far in Canada – claiming that safeguards are missing; that suicidal measures are being suggested to people who would not consider it on their own; and that suicides are being done for people who have other options.

The medically assisted suicide of Alan Nichols in 2019 has been held up as an example. The 61-year-old was depressive and reportedly suicidal. Canadian law requires patients can only legally undergo medically-assisted suicide if they suffer from a physical – not mental – ailment. Nichols, it is reported in an article by Associated Press, listed hearing loss as his reason for euthanasia. Relatives maintain that hospital employees helped him to put in the request.

“He didn’t have a life-threatening disease,” his brother Gary Nichols told CTV news. “I didn’t think he had a sound mind at all.”

Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been called in to investigate the death.

As for Foley, he has known since childhood that he would be living with limited mobility and ever-increasing challenges because of his degenerative condition: “The white matter in the main area of my cerebella, it vanishes. As a result, the area of my brain that controls interior organ function deteriorates.

“I was sick and uncoordinated in my childhood,” he said. “In my 20s, I lost my ability to walk and use my limbs. In my 30s I became unable to walk and needed assistance in living. I ended up in the hospital at age 40. I’ve been here since then and [the disability] is getting worse.”

Foley requires a Hoyer Lift – machinery that hoists him into a sitting position – and a person to operate it. His lawsuit alleges that the hospital did not provide this, causing him to not be able to sit up to eat for 20 days.

According to the lawsuit, in 2009, Foley was living in Toronto and working as national manager of e-business for the Royal Bank of Canada. Because of his deteriorating health, he resigned, moved to London, Ontario, and received care through several medical-assistance agencies, facilitated by the Canadian Government.

In 2014, his disability became bad enough that he was deemed to be in need of 210 hours of health care per month. But, according to the lawsuit, the care – paid for through a non-profit, government-funded organization – led to him being poisoned from spoiled food and dragged on the floor by workers. Mentally and physically beaten down, he got admitted to Victoria Hospital in February 2016 and has been there ever since.

“I don’t have any family in the city where I live and very little family in general. I am basically on my own. I always have been. I grew up with my father and he passed away in 1999,” Foley said. “I have a brother but he is in Ottawa. I don’t see him much. People have their own lives.”

Foley has been in Victoria Hospital since 2016.

He claims that, for a period of time, the hospital did not provide a Hoyer Lift or personnel to operate it. “I almost died because I could not have food or water for days,” Foley said. “If I can’t sit up, I can’t swallow food without choking.”

The lawsuit references “the defendants denying him food and water, and failing to provide him with the necessities of life and endangering his life [by] making him critically acidotic [a condition in which there is too much acid in bodily fluids].”

According to the lawsuit, Foley has applied for “direct funding” from the Canadian government to “employ agency workers of his own choosing and manage his schedule.”

Said Foley: “There is pressure on [disabled] people who should be treated equally and celebrated for their strength and diversity and difference.

“Society deems us better off dead. We have to justify being alive and [to pro-euthanasia contingents] our lives don’t matter.”

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