In recent days CHEK News introduced viewers to Ed Ness. Facing a painful and difficult future with terminal cancer, he opted for a medically assisted death. He invited CHEK News reporter Dean Stoltz to be there and share the experience. Ed Ness made a choice but as Mary Griffin tells us, it’s a choice not available to many others.
John Priddle was having a good day on Friday. But his days aren’t always so great. Diagnosed in 2000 with Friedreich’s Ataxia, an incurable, and untreatable neurological condition. His symptoms include slurred speech, fatigue, and difficulty walking. “I’ve been doing palliative care for 17 years, because that’s what it is,” Priddle said. “Symptom management.” Priddle is concerned about the day when he won’t be able to to make decisions about his future, and his life. He’s determined to time his own death, but under the current federal legislation that cannot happen. “Since my natural death is not foreseeable, there is simply no way,” Priddle said. “It’s not worth putting an application in because it would be rejected as soon as someone examined me.” READ MORE: Ed Ness dies peacefully in doctor-assisted death The federal government determined that unless a death is “reasonably foreseeable”, it’s not permitted. That’s despite a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2015 allowing consenting adults, enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to end their lives with a doctor’s help. NDP MP Murray Rankin says the current federal legislation will be tested in the courts. “Do you have to be at the end of life to exercise physician-assisted dying?”, Rankin said. “That is something the courts are going to have to decide. Once again with B.C. leading the way.” That could take up to a year, maybe more. Until then, people like Priddle will have to wait. And that is what he’s worried about as his condition will only worsen. “Every time we access the barrier, it means that a suffering person and their family can’t get the exit they seek.” For Priddle, a compassionate and timely death of his own choosing is the peace he’s seeking.