Recently, Canada has decided to delay the expansion of professional medical assistance in dying (MAiD) to people living with mental illness. This decision follows a legal challenge filed concerning the province of Quebec’s rules and guidelines on MAiD.
The initial challenge was filed by the Canadian Association of Social Workers, who argued against the applicability of the current eligibility criteria for MAiD for people living with mental illness. As MAiD for those with mental illness was due to come into effect on March 11, 2021, this decision from the Quebec Superior Court prompted Ottawa to delay the introduction of the rules.
Since 2016, Canada has allowed medical assistance in dying for those with terminal illnesses and certain chronic physical conditions, although it was restricted for those living with mental illness. The Canadian government has proposed removing the restriction on mental illness in an effort to provide those with mental health challenges access to the same rights available to those with physical challenges.
Public Health Minister Patty Hajdu has assured the public that the federal government will not accept legislation that’s below the standards outlined in Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying Act. This assurance is meant to provide a sense of security and trust in the system.
However, this delay has caused concern that the federal government is choosing to ignore the wishes of those living with mental illness and their desire to have access to MAiD. The government is now being faced with the difficult task of giving those with mental illness a right to choose, while at the same time ensuring the protection of vulnerable people.
At the moment, the Canadian government is working to meet the standards set out in the MAiD act from 2016, while at the same time try to create a safe and secure system for those living with mental illness. It remains to be seen what the final outcome of the legislation will be but it’s clear that Canadians are united in wanting a respectful and equitable system that will protect all citizens.
Canada has delayed efforts to grow it’s health-related assistance in dying program to incorporate psychological sickness. The strategies lifted unease in a place that currently has a liberal assisted loss of life policy.
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