Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller Register file photo

Archbishop welcomes call to delay MAiD for mental illness

By  Paul Schratz, Canadian Catholic News
  • December 8, 2022

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller says it’s a “sign of hope” that dozens of Canadian psychiatrists are opposing the federal government’s plan to introduce assisted suicide solely for mental illness next March.

The Society of Canadian Psychiatry is calling for a delay in plans to implement “Medical Assistance in Dying” solely for mental illness on March 17, saying there needs to be “proper consultation and review of the safety and risks of MAiD for sole mental illness, and development of evidence-based recommendations regarding MAiD for sole mental illness.”

Miller, who has called Canada’s proliferating euthanasia law “morally depraved,” said the psychiatrists’ effort to put the brakes on the March expansion is “extremely welcome” and comes at a crucial time.

“The government appears set on further expanding euthanasia, despite the Senate-Commons Committee request for more time to study the issue, despite experts and disability groups pointing out how dangerous it will be to a very vulnerable population, and despite calls from panellists and now psychiatrists saying the legislation lacks even minimal protections that would prevent people with mental disorders from ending their lives with the help of the State,” said Miller.

A government-appointed Expert Panel on MAiD and Mental Illness studying Canada’s euthanasia law reported earlier this year that the government did not need to undertake any new legislative protections before opening assisted suicide to the mentally ill.

The panel wrote, “Under current MAiD law a person with physical conditions accepted as a ‘serious and incurable illness, disease or disability,’ but whose advanced state of irreversible decline and enduring, intolerable suffering are primarily due to a mental disorder, could meet the legislative definition of a grievous and irremediable medical condition.”

The Canadian psychiatrists said implementing euthanasia for mental illness in March would be “premature and irresponsible” and that there is insufficient time to consider “determinations of irremediability of mental illness for the purpose of MAiD assessments.

The group is calling on mental health and policy leaders across Canada to join its Call to Action urging that “implementation or expansion of MAiD for sole mental illness be delayed until 2024.”

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