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Again delay for physician-assisted death for mentally ill people in Canada

On February the 2nd, the Canadian government tabled legislation that would extend the sunset clause (i.e. exclusion) on medical assistance in dying (MAID) for those whose sole underlying condition is a mental disorder with a year: this means until March 17, 2024.

On Thursday December 15 of the last year, the federal government already declared it needed more time before expanding Canada’s MAID policy to include mentally ill people. The federal government then already announced it will be negotiating an “extension” to the March 17 2023 deadline.

Our member Dying with Dignity Canada reacted as follows:

For the small group of people across Canada who suffer from treatment-resistant mental disorders, and who want the right to apply for MAID, this delay serves to extend their suffering. For this, we are deeply saddened.

While we fully agree and recognize the need for safeguards and protections, there has been a considerable amount of work over the last two years to prepare for this change.

We hope the next year is spent wisely and considerately on completing and disseminating practice standards for clinicians and other health care partners, while also increasing investments into supports for people living with mental disorders.

For those who have been suffering and waiting for the sunset clause to expire, we hear your concerns and encourage you to seek support if needed. You can connect with a crisis responder 24/7 for judgment-free support by calling 1-833-456-4566 or texting 45645.

We urge the government to use this time to educate the public about MAID, how the process works, and the strict criteria that will accompany this change in the law. For those who have been denied compassion, autonomy, and choice, this is not a short delay but yet another barrier.

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