Government of Canada introduces legislation to delay expansion of Medical Assistance in Dying by 3 years

This press release addresses topics that may cause distress. If you or someone close to you needs support, resources are available at Canada.ca/mental-health.

February 1, 2024 | Ottawa, Ontario | Health Canada

Medical assistance in dying (MAID) is a very personal choice and a deeply sensitive topic. In Canada, MAID may be an option for some people who suffer intolerably due to an eligible medical condition. The Government of Canada recognizes that mental illnesses can cause the same level of suffering as physical illnesses.

Under Canada’s current MAID law, people who suffer solely from a mental illness and meet all eligibility criteria and safeguards would have been eligible for MAID as of March 17, 2024. Significant progress has been made to prepare for eligibility for MAID for people whose only medical condition is a mental illness. However, in its consultations with provinces, territories, medical professionals, people with lived experience and other stakeholders, the Government of Canada has heard (and agrees) that the health system is not yet ready for this expansion.

That’s why today, the Honorable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, who was joined by the Honorable Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Deputy Minister of Health, and the Honorable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada introduced legislation that proposes to extend the temporary exclusion of MAID eligibility for people suffering solely from a mental illness for three years. This extension would provide more time for provinces and territories to prepare their health care systems, including developing additional policies, standards, guidance and resources to assess and provide MAID in situations where a person’s only underlying medical condition is a Mental illness. It would also provide professionals with more time to participate in training and become familiar with available supports, guidelines and standards.

This proposed delay is also in line with the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Joint Committee on MAID (AMAD) in its report. MAID and mental disorders: the road aheadwhich was introduced on January 29, 2024. While recognizing that considerable progress has been made in preparing for the expansion of eligibility to people suffering solely from a mental illness, AMAD recommended that it not be available in Canada until the system healthcare provider can safely and appropriately provide MAID for these cases.

The Government of Canada is also proposing that a joint parliamentary committee conduct a comprehensive review related to the MAID eligibility of people whose only underlying medical condition is a mental illness, within two years of the act being passed into law. This measure would also serve to review the progress made by provinces, territories and partners in achieving overall health care system readiness.

The Government of Canada is committed to a measured, thoughtful and compassionate approach to help ensure that Canada’s MAID system meets the needs of people in Canada, protects those who may be vulnerable, and supports the autonomy and freedom of choice of people. people. We will continue to work with provinces and territories, medical professionals, people with lived experience and other stakeholders to support the safe implementation of MAID, with appropriate safeguards in place, to affirm and protect the inherent and equal value of every person’s life.

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