Canada to delay assisted dying for persons suffering solely from mental illness

Ottawa, Feb 3 (IANS) The Canadian government has introduced legislation to delay the assisted dying for persons suffering solely from mental illness for a year.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti, Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos, and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Carolyn Bennett tabled the bill to extend the temporary exclusion of eligibility for medical assistance in dying (MAID) where a person’s sole medical condition is a mental illness until March 17, 2024.

According to a state issued by the Department of Justice, under Canada’s current MAID law, persons suffering solely from a mental illness who meet all eligibility criteria and for whom all applicable safeguards are met would be eligible for MAID as of March 17, 2023, reports Xinhua news agency.

MAID is a complex and deeply personal issue and the Canadian government is committed to ensuring the laws reflect Canadians’ needs, protect those who may be vulnerable, and support autonomy and freedom of choice, the statement said.

The main purpose of this proposed one-year extension is to allow more time to ensure MAID assessors and providers are ready to assess requests for MAID for persons suffering solely from a mental illness in a safe and consistent manner across Canada by the time the proposed extension is over, it added.

In June 2016, the Parliament of Canada passed federal legislation that allows eligible Canadian adults to request MAID.

On March 17, 2021, Parliament passed revised legislation that made changes to who may be eligible to obtain MAID and the process of assessment.

The Liberal government agreed to expand eligibility, arguing that excluding people with mental illness would violate their rights.