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Critics Caution Against Plan to Expand Medical Assistance in Dying to Those With Mental Illness

The Canadian Press
Published Dec. 17, 2023

Hope is what kept Laurel Walker alive as thoughts of suicide overwhelmed her, and that is exactly what she says would be stripped from people battling the same darkness if Canada forges ahead with plans to expand medical assistance in dying to those with a mental disorder.

Proponents of the expansion, set for March 17, maintain that providing MAID to people with an incurable physical illness without giving the same right to those with an irremediable mental illness amounts to discrimination on the basis of a disability. Critics counter that there is insufficient evidence to predict whether or not someone will recover from a mental illness.

Feds’ Dental Care Plan to Come This Fall, but Disability Advocates Have Concerns

By Laura Osman The Canadian Press
Posted October 6, 2023

The federal government’s new dental insurance plan has yet to be introduced, but advocates are warning the eligibility criteria for people with disabilities could be cumbersome and may not capture everyone who should have access to the program.

The details of the insurance plan are expected to be announced this fall, with a goal to eventually provide dental benefits to qualifying kids under the age of 18, seniors and people with disabilities.

The Liberals promised in their supply-and-confidence agreement with the NDP that dental coverage will ultimately be offered to all people with a household income under $90,000 per year by the end of 2024.

Drinking Diet Sodas and Aspartame-Sweetened Beverages Daily During Pregnancy Linked to Autism in Male Offspring

Posted on September 20, 2023

SAN ANTONIO, Sept. 20, 2023 – A new published study led by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) has found an association between autism diagnosis in boys and daily consumption of either diet soda or a comparable amount of aspartame by their mothers during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

In this case-control study, boys who had been diagnosed with autism were more than three times as likely as neurotypically developing boys to have been born to mothers who reported consuming one or more servings per day of diet soda, or comparable amounts of the leading artificial sweetener aspartame, during pregnancy or breastfeeding. No statistically significant association was found in female offspring.

Eye-Tracking Tool May Help Diagnose Autism More Quickly and Accurately, New Studies Suggest

By Jacqueline Howard and Deidre McPhillips, CNN
Updated 11:36 AM EDT, Tue September 5, 2023

Most families of children with autism may face long wait times to diagnose their child with the disorder, and once a diagnosis is made, it sometimes may not be definitive.

But now, two studies released Tuesday suggest that a recently developed eye-tracking tool could help clinicians diagnose children as young as 16 months with autism – and with more certainty.

Kids’ developmental disability diagnoses became more common during pandemic, but autism rates held steady, CDC report says
“This is not a tool to replace expert clinicians,” said Warren Jones, director of research at the Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Nien Distinguished Chair in Autism at Emory University School of Medicine, who was an author on both studies.

Nearly 99% Of Adults With Autism Have No Employment Services

by Michelle Diament | August 22, 2023

Hardly any adults with autism are receiving supports to help them find or keep a job, new research shows, and even among the few who do, the services are often far too short-term.

Some 1.98 million working-age individuals on the spectrum – or almost 99% – accessed no employment supports through Medicaid or vocational rehabilitation between 2008 and 2016, according to findings published this month in the journal The Milbank Quarterly.

P.E.I. Mom Tracks Son in Toronto on Social Media, Struggles to Bring Him Home

Joanna Lavoie
CP24 Web Content Writer
Published Aug. 15, 2023

A Prince Edward Island woman’s months-long quest to bring her estranged son home from Toronto highlights the challenges families face accessing health care options for loved ones living with mental illness and the gaps in social supports, says one local street nurse.

Five years ago, Marlene Bryenton’s adult son started experiencing delusions and was diagnosed with a serious mental illness, she says. He was initially staying in various places in the Maritimes, but earlier this year relocated to southern Ontario.

As Canada Prepares to Expand Assisted Suicide, Advocates Warn of Threat to Mentally Ill

By Daniel Payne
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 31, 2023

Mental health advocates and pro-life activists are expressing concerns over a possible expansion of Canada’s assisted suicide rules that would permit residents
to seek fatal medical treatments even if they are not suffering from a fatal affliction.

Canada first legalized assisted suicide in June 2016 for adults suffering from irreversibly deadly illnesses. In 2021 the Canadian government said it would wait an additional two years to extend those services to mentally ill citizens to “study how MAiD [medical assistance in dying] on the basis of a mental illness can safely be provided.”

Delay of Eligibility for Medical Assistance In Dying for Persons Suffering Solely from Mental Illness Proposed by Ministers of Justice and Health

From: Department of Justice Canada
February 2, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Government of Canada

Medical assistance in dying (MAID) is a complex and deeply personal issue. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring our laws reflect Canadians’ needs, protect those who may be vulnerable, and support autonomy and freedom of choice.

Under Canada’s current MAID law, persons suffering solely from a mental illness who meet all eligibility criteria and for whom all applicable safeguards are met would be eligible for MAID as of March 17, 2023. However, today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, introduced legislation to extend the temporary exclusion of eligibility for MAID where a person’s sole medical condition is a mental illness until March 17, 2024.

Study: Even With Fivefold Increase, Autism Likely Undercounted

by Shaun Heasley | January 26, 2023

New research suggests that autism prevalence rose as much as 500% in recent decades, but it still may be underdiagnosed.

In an analysis of data on 8-year-olds in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area between 2000 and 2016, researchers found that the number of children with autism and intellectual disability doubled over the time period. Among those without intellectual disability, however, the increase was fivefold.

Still, the study published online Thursday in the journal Pediatrics finds that disparities in diagnosis persist and many kids may remain overlooked. Children from affluent areas were 80% more likely than those from underserved areas to be flagged as having autism with no intellectual disability while Black children in this category were 30% less likely to be identified as compared to white kids.

McDonald’s Fired Man Who Worked There 37 Years In Violation Of ADA, Lawsuit Says

by Julia Marnin, McClatchy News/TNS | January 27, 2023

A man who received awards and accolades for his work as a McDonald’s grill cook was fired after 37 years of working for the fast food giant, federal officials said.

Two months after a different franchisee became the new owner of the McDonald’s in Deptford, N.J., it fired him because he has autism, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

But firing the grill cook violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal agency said.

Now the McDonald’s franchisee, JDKD Enterprises, L.P., has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle the disability discrimination lawsuit, the EEOC announced.