Government debating euthanasia expansion for mental illness

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submitted by AARP

On October 5, Parliament debated whether to proceed with expanding medical assistance in dying (MAiD) to those whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness. There has been much concern from doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and the public about offering medically assisted suicide to those with mental illness. Bill C-314, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), introduced by MP Ed Fast, stands against this expansion.

ARPA Canada, through the Care Not Kill campaign, has spent the last few years actively advocating against euthanasia as a solution for mental illness. If the bill does not pass and nothing changes, euthanasia will be offered to people whose sole condition is a mental illness as of March 17, 2024.

MAiD deaths have risen dramatically in Canada since euthanasia was legalized in 2016. More than 10,000 Canadians had their lives ended by a doctor in 2021, up 34% from 2020, and those numbers are still on the rise. Adding another group of vulnerable people to the list of eligibility will only increase this further.

“Canada has created a euthanasia regime that allows for loose safeguards and increasing accessibility,” said Daniel Zekveld, a policy analyst with ARPA Canada. “What started as an end-of-life measure for a very few who were suffering immensely has become a potential solution to almost any kind of suffering. Bill C-314 gives Parliament an opportunity to improve safeguards, a needed shift from the way euthanasia has been handled ever since its legalization in 2016.”

It is expected that a vote will take place in the week of October 16. If the bill passes, it will move to committee stage for further study.

ARPA Canada has had a presence on Parliament Hill sharing the message that euthanasia should never be considered a solution for mental illness. ARPA Canada stands for suicide prevention, not suicide assistance, in all cases.

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