Ontario man not considering medically-assisted death anymore after outpouring of support

By CityNews Staff

Amir Farsoud didn’t want to die, but after fears he would lose his housing, he had applied for medically assisted death (MAID) as an alternative to being homeless.

But just over a month after CityNews first shared his story, Farsoud said the outpouring of support will allow him to live with a roof over his head.

“I’m a different person,” said Farsoud. “The first time we spoke, I had nothing but darkness, misery, stress and hopelessness. Now I have all the opposite of those things.”

The 54-year-old St. Catharines man said he is eternally grateful for those who donated to the GoFundMe, started by a woman named Effy, a stranger to Farsoud, after she saw his story.

Farsoud currently lives with never-ending back pain that allows him to qualify for MAID. He already had one doctor sign off and was waiting for the allotted 90 days before having a second doctor approve his application when his story was shared.

“I honestly thought by December I wouldn’t be here. So no, I certainly did not envision this by any stretch of the imagination,” said Farsoud.

The GoFundMe raised more than $60,000 from people around the world and has given him a new lease on life.

“I never even thought it would approach the goal … and it just sort of, within 24 hours, (it) exploded through the roof.”

Many of the offers of help came from Iranians. Farsoud left Iran with his family during the revolution when he was 12 years old.

“I have felt like this one time in my life. When we left Iran and got to France, we left the plane and I was a kid, but I fell to my knees and kissed the tarmac, because no one was going to shoot me, no demonstrations, no army, no burning buildings. I’m going to get up in the morning knowing I wouldn’t be dead that night,” explained Farsoud. “The way I feel or have been feeling since this happened, that’s the closest I’ve come [to that].”

The GoFundMe was closed because he worried it was becoming too much money to be able to be stay on Ontario Disability Support Payments (ODSP).

“Basically as long as I have enough that I’m not going hungry and not worrying about the basics until however many months or years I went on the waiting list for permanent, stable, affordable housing. That’s all I ever wanted,” said Farsoud. “People in my shoes don’t want extravagant lifestyles, we just want to move on.”

And it wasn’t just those who donated to the GoFundMe who have helped.

“There has been this amazing outpouring of love and support, emotional support. There’s been therapists that have gotten in touch to do like online or on the phone therapy.”

Thousands still struggling in poverty on ODSP 

But Farsoud’s joy is tinged with guilt. He knows other people with disabilities on ODSP are still living in poverty and have to survive on $1,200 a month for food, rent and all other necessities.

“I’m over the moon about it. But there are a half a million other Ontarians who didn’t win that lottery, nor are they going to, and they are still every bit as much in need as I was the first time that we spoke.”

After paying off debts and loans from friends, Farsoud has $40,000 left which doesn’t disqualify him from support payments. He said he will use it to supplement ODSP by $800 a month. He hopes when it runs out in about four years, he will be in affordable housing by then.

For now, he can stay in his rooming house as it is no longer listed for sale. “It’s like you see in the movies, the death row inmate in the last second gets the reprieve, it kind of feels like that.”

He has since put his application for MAID away, but after seeing his story, many took issue about the ethics of applying for MAID due to poverty.

“The people using it are the people deemed throwaways. If society can’t be bothered to give them the dignity in life, then the least they can do is give them the five minutes of dignity before death,” said Farsoud about whether MAID should be available for those applying due to not being able to afford to live.

He said governments should be focusing on fixing the issues causing poverty, rather than the moral ramifications of those in poverty seeking MAID.

“I think the proper solution is to not have that problem, is to alleviate what’s causing the problem,” explained Farsoud.

“If society is concerned about people like me, and like the half million other people on ODSP in poverty, then bring them out of poverty. That’s the obvious solution. If they were out of poverty and if they had a roof over their head and food in their mouths, I guarantee you MAID wouldn’t be a consideration. The whole debate would become superfluous.”

MAID officially became legal in Canada in 2016 under the requirement that death was reasonably foreseeable. The eligibility to apply expanded in March of 2022 to include people with disabilities or those suffering pain even if they are not close to death.

UN experts released a report in Jan of 2021 that said when “life-ending interventions are normalized for people who are not terminally ill or suffering at the end of their lives, such legislative provisions tend to rest on – or draw strength from – ableist assumptions about the inherent ‘quality of life’ or ‘worth’ of the life of a person with a disability.”

In a letter sent directly to the Government of Canada ahead of the change in MAID legislation, the UN said it was concerned with the expanded access, specifically citing concern with a circumstance like the one Farsoud faces.

“It is not beyond possibility that, if offered an expanded right as per Bill C-7, persons with disabilities may decide to end their lives because of broader social factors such as loneliness, social isolation and lack of access to quality social services,” read the note.

Farsoud expects one day he will use MAID, when his back pain worsens and he can’t bear it anymore. He sees that day as far off though, years, in the distant future.

But now he has hope which makes his back pain a little more bearable.

“It’s amazing what an act of kindness can do,” shared Farsoud. “I wouldn’t have thought it possible the kindness and humanity and compassion I saw, I didn’t think it existed anymore. It does.”


Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today