Chantal Huinink

April 12, 2024

Chantal Huinink

April 12, 2024

Close up women on a wheel chair holding mens hand.

Photo by StockPlanets on iStock

Close up women on a wheel chair holding mens hand.

Photo by StockPlanets on iStock

I was 10 years old when Tracy Latimer was killed by her father.

I did not know Tracy personally, but I knew that she had the same disability as me, and she was not that much older than I was at the time. Tracy’s tragic death caused me to fear that my mom, or someone close to me, would likewise kill me based on the assumption that I was in too much pain, or my life was not worth living.

When I asked my mom what I should do about it, she said, “Use your voice to tell everyone you want to live, and speak up for those like Tracy, who could not speak for themselves.” I have always regarded my voice as a gift from God, especially because I know that many people with disabilities do not have as strong of a voice. It is significant to me that I was elected to public office on the 29th anniversary of Tracy’s death.

As empathetic human beings and especially people of faith, our desire to understand and remove the suffering of others is laudable, but acting on it is reprehensible. We must exercise extreme caution when evaluating the circumstances or quality of life of another because what looks like suffering to us might not feel like suffering to them. I think we are supposed to suffer to some degree because we are not yet in heaven where the Scriptures indicate there will be no pain. It is also important to remember that suffering is part of the human condition. Jesus, came down to earth, not just to suffer for us but to suffer with us.

Tracy’s legacy has shaped my life and work in many ways. I seek to demonstrate the joy of the Lord everywhere that I go and in everything that I get to do. I strive to prove that even though life is full of obstacles, it is hard and painful sometimes, I have a reason to live. The people that I feel the need to prove this to most strongly are medical professionals whom I interact with.

“…even though life is full of obstacles, it is hard and painful sometimes, I have a reason to live.”

On the one hand, medical professionals are a key piece of the puzzle to help me live well. On the other hand, despite their life-enhancing capabilities, because of Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying legislation, they would be legally allowed to kill me, following a relatively brief reflection period of three months or sometimes less, followed by my consent.

A recent episode of 100 Huntley Street where myself and other experts in diverse fields share their perspectives on the problems of Medical Assistance in Dying and the lack of safeguards established in Canada, indicates that 45,000 Canadians have chosen Medical Assistance in Dying since 2016.

Many Canadians with disabilities have chosen Medical Assistance in Dying not because they wanted to die but because waiting lists for supports they need to live well, including but not limited to, necessities like affordable and accessible housing, attendant care services etc., are anywhere from two – ten years.  Many are barely surviving while they await these services because provincial disability support program levels are far below the poverty line.

“Many are barely surviving…because provincial disability support program levels are far below the poverty line.”

Christians are called to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbour as ourselves.” It is cheaper and faster to provide Medical Assistance in Dying to Canadians with disabilities or mental illness than it is to provide support and services that we need to live well and feel like valued members of our communities. This is a slippery slope which could lead to genocide of people with disabilities or mental illness. Isn’t there a better way to love people with disabilities or mental illness besides killing them?

The Canada Disability Benefit Act was unanimously approved in June 2023. Since then, the Canadian government has collected more and more accolades for this funding stream, which few realize has yet to be implemented, and Canadians with disabilities who rely solely on grossly inadequate provincial disability support programs struggle more and more while they wait.  People with disabilities across the country and our allies are hoping that will change when the federal budget is announced on April 16, 2024.

“Isn’t there a better way to love people with disabilities or mental illness besides killing them?”

In solidarity with the disability community, it is important that you contact your Member of Parliament to let them know that funding for the Canada Disability Benefit is overdue and you expect to see it in the 2024 budget!

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About the Author:

About the Author:

Chantal Huinink holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Guelph; and a Masters of Divinity and Masters of Social Work from Martin Luther University College at Wilfrid Laurier. She is a Registered Social Worker of Ontario, the founder of Faith and Wheelpower Ministries, a motivational speaker, author, and social justice advocate. She worked with Karis Disability Services (formerly Christian Horizons) and Kids Ability for many years, providing counselling, mentorship, and spiritual care. She was elected to Waterloo Regional Council in 2022.

Chantal Huinink holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Guelph; and a Masters of Divinity and Masters of Social Work from Martin Luther University College at Wilfrid Laurier. She is a Registered Social Worker of Ontario, the founder of Faith and Wheelpower Ministries, a motivational speaker, author, and social justice advocate. She worked with Karis Disability Services (formerly Christian Horizons) and Kids Ability for many years, providing counselling, mentorship, and spiritual care. She was elected to Waterloo Regional Council in 2022.