In a video that has gone viral on TikTok, an Ontario quadriplegic mother of three says she has just days left before she can access medical assistance in dying (MAID) yet she is unable to access disability support.
“I have 12 days left on my medical assistance in dying application here in the province in Ontario. I’m a quadriplegic single mom raising 2 kids with disabilities,” said Rose Finlay in the video.
In interview with Global News, Finlay updated the count, noting she is now down to ‘eight days from today.’
“My life as it is, without support as a quadriplegic is far more deadly than me even exploring the MAID process,” she said.
Finlay suffered a severe spinal cord injury in her teens and has used a wheelchair ever since. She has always been self-sufficient, she said, but finds herself now needing help and falling ill while waiting to access it.
“The fact that it takes six to eight months to receive disability support and only 91 days to receive medical assistance in dying based on the fact that I have a permanent disability and decreased quality of life but my quality of life is decreased based on the level of support that I receive,” she said in her TikTok video.
Finlay said she was compelled to apply for MAID, not because she wants to die, but because her community is failing her, and she is afraid she is running out of options.
“Not having support for the last year has made it so that I’m getting sick more often and I think it’s just better to have it as an option, have MAID as an option, should I get really, really sick,” she said.
Finlay lives in Bowmanville, located in Durham Region, east of Toronto, where she said there is a lack of services for people living with disabilities.
“Smaller communities just don’t have the resources available to have proper infrastructure in place for disability services … here in Durham, I fought the good fight, I’ve lived here for the better part of the last 17 years, and it’s always been a challenge to find adequate personal care support. We don’t have transportation accessibility,” said Finlay.
She previously lived in Toronto where she said there were resources and programs available but ‘you’ve got to pay higher costs of living to receive them.’
A spokesperson for Durham Region sent Global News a statement noting, in part, “For residents who require provincial supports, such as the Ontario Disability Support Program, the Region can help with service navigation to secure those resources for the resident. Residents are encouraged to reach out to the Region’s Social Services team by calling 3-1-1 for assistance and our staff will help with navigating the system on the resident’s behalf.”
Finlay’s friend Diane Kluczynski started a gofundme campaign called Help Needed to raise funds for her.
“A young lady I know is really struggling and needs your help. I read her Facebook post tonight and feel so helpless. This is the first thing that came to mind,” wrote Kluczynski on the web page. “I’m still actively fighting for my life and to be here with my kids, I couldn’t, in my right mind, just be okay with making the decision to not be here. I will fight until I can’t fight anymore,” said Finlay.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services pointed at the provincial government’s “increased ODSP rates last fall by 5%, the largest increase in decades” adding ” in addition to amounts for basic needs and shelter, social assistance recipients may also be eligible to receive a range of mandatory and discretionary benefits, as well as various health benefits to help them with their specific needs.”
As Finlay continues to count down the days until she can access MAID, she hopes Canadians hear her message about standing together in the fight for access to disability supports.
“Many people turn a blind eye when it comes to disability issues … the average Canadian spends 8 to 11 years of their life with one or more disability and so while this may not be their fight today, it’s not a fight that you want to have to fight when you are in a position of need,” she said.
“Disabled people need able bodied allies amplifying their voices and fighting this fight alongside them.”
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