Senate pushes MAiD for mentally ill three years down the road

  • March 1, 2024

Medical assistance in dying (MAiD) access for individuals solely living with a mental illness is officially delayed until March 17, 2027, as the Senate of Canada passed Bill C-62 at third reading Feb. 29.  

Senators passed this bill during their last sitting before March 19. It had to pass on Leap Day, or else medical killing for the individuals only contending with a psychiatric condition would have become the law of the land on March 17.

Senator Donald Plett, the opposition leader, acknowledged the down-to-the-wire nature of this vote.

“Colleagues, almost a year to the day, here we are again at the eleventh hour, having to save Canadians from the ill-conceived plan by this Liberal government to introduce assisted suicide for mental illness,” said Plett. “Just like it did last year with Bill C-39, the government has tied our hands to pass this legislation expeditiously.”

During the preamble of his nearly-hour-long speech, Plett stated his intention to not use the term “medical assistance in dying” or its acronym, except when citing quotations because “in referring to assisted suicide as MAiD, it gives it a veneer of a medical procedure. We are no longer referring to people hastening death but administering death to people who are not dying. Using an abundance of acronyms to refer to assisted suicide takes away the humanity of the question.”

A precise vote count for Bill C-62 is not published as of March 1, but Senator Stan Kutcher made it clear that he was against the further delay. The professor emeritus of psychiatry at Dalhousie University said Bill C-62 “discriminates against those who have a mental disorder. It characterizes a person as a diagnosis.”

Opponents of the Canadian assisted suicide regime have welcomed this further delay since Bill C-62's tabling on Feb. 1. However, their primary focus is fighting to ensure that medical killing for the solely mentally ill is permanently politically unviable.

During a rally on Parliament Hill on Feb. 27, critics of expanding MAiD affirmed that it is better to provide better support for Canadians living with a mental disorder and formulate more dynamic solutions to tackle poverty.

 Krista Carr, the executive vice-president of Inclusion Canada, the national organization of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families, reacted to the news by stating, “we’re relieved that MAiD for mental illness has been delayed, but more sweeping changes to our MAiD legislation are needed.” She advised that a repeal of track two — providing euthanasia to people living with a disability whose natural death is not foreseeable — “is urgently required.”

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