This press release discusses issues that may cause concern. If you or a loved one need support, find resources at canada.ca/mentalhealth.
1um February 2024 | Ottawa, ON | Health Canada
Medical assisted dying (MAID) is a very personal decision and an extremely sensitive issue. In Canada, MAID is available to certain individuals who are suffering intolerably due to a qualifying medical condition. The Government of Canada recognizes that mental illness can cause the same suffering as physical illness.
Under Canada's current MAID law, individuals suffering solely from a mental illness and meeting all eligibility criteria and protections would have been eligible for MAID as of March 17, 2024. Significant progress has been made in preparing for MAID eligibility for people whose only medical condition is mental illness. However, during its consultations with provinces, territories, health experts, people with experience in the field and other stakeholders, the Government of Canada has heard – and recognizes – that the health care system is not yet ready for this expansion.
That is why the Honorable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, the Honorable Ya'ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, and the Honorable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today introduced a bill aimed at ending the temporary exclusion of extending MAID eligibility for three years for individuals suffering solely from a mental illness. This extension would give provinces and territories more time to prepare their health systems, including developing additional policies, standards, guidelines and resources to assess and manage MAID in situations where the mental disorder is the only identified medical problem. Additionally, practitioners would have more time to complete training and become familiar with accessible tools, guidelines and standards.
This proposed extension is also consistent with the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Medical Assisted Dying contained in its report entitled “ MAID and mental disorders: the path you should take “, which was submitted on January 29, 2024. The Joint Special Committee on Medical Assisted Dying, recognizing that significant progress has been made in preparing to extend eligibility to persons suffering only from a mental illness, recommended that implementation be delayed am The healthcare system is capable of administering MAID safely and appropriately in such cases.
The Government of Canada is also proposing that a joint parliamentary committee conduct an in-depth review of eligibility for MAID for people whose only medical problem is a mental disorder within two years of the King's assent to the bill. This action will also allow us to examine the progress made by provinces, territories and partners in overall health system preparedness.
The Government of Canada is committed to taking a moderate, prudent and compassionate approach to ensuring that Canada's MAID system meets the needs of Canadians, protects people who may be at risk, and supports their independence and freedom of choice. We will continue to work with provinces and territories, health professionals, seniors and other stakeholders to support the safe implementation of MAID and the implementation of appropriate protective measures, and to affirm and protect the inherent value and equality of every human life.
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