The CEO of a food bank in Mississauga, Canada has expressed her concerns about an increase in the number of people seeking assistance from the food bank enquiring about assisted suicide.
Some #FoodBank users are telling us they can't go on living in poverty, & are considering ending their lives or seeking #MAiD. We tell you this because we must collectively act to end #poverty & we have to do it now. #AidNotMAiD Questions? DMs are open. https://t.co/yoUE5BScaE
— Meghan Nicholls (@meghanleen) January 4, 2023
Speaking to local news, Meghan Nicholls said that in the space of only two weeks five people she received calls from asked about ending their own lives.
“People who are living at the bottom income percentile in our community are talking to us now about taking their own lives because it’s too hard to be poor any longer”, she said.
In a statement, Nicholls revealed that she and volunteers at the facility had “noticed an alarming topic come up with some of our clients who have shared suicidal ideation with our team, including some that are considering MAiD (medical assistance in dying), because they feel that they can’t live in grinding poverty anymore.”
Nicholls emphasised the huge stress placed on those living in poverty saying that the toll it takes on “mental, emotional, and physical health when living with constant worry, fear, and stress” should not be underestimated.
She continued that “as the cost of living and inflation continues to skyrocket, governmental social safety nets have weakened to a disheartening degree”, adding that social protection programs in the area are “grossly underfunded”.
She says that the maximum amount an individual can receive from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is $1,228 – about €850 – a month adding that this means “those who rely solely on ODSP are falling $832 (€580) below the poverty line – this is legislated poverty, and it is taking an immeasurable toll”, she said.
She continued that it is “clear” that benefit payment rates are not being kept in line with inflation and the spiralling cost of living, calling on “all levels of government” to “step up and help those who are struggling”.
Nicholls called on Canadians to contact local representatives and express that the situation is “unacceptable”. She said that social assistance rates “must meet the current cost of living and increase alongside inflation”, adding that “everyone deserves a life that is liveable”.