Posted by occwebsite
06th Oct 2023

Canadian law permits something called “medical assistance in dying.” This practice is NOT palliative care. It does not refer to helping Canadians as they journey toward natural death by offering treatment to manage their pain and suffering. Medical assistance in dying—assisted death for short—is the deliberate act of ending a person’s life, typically through the administration of a lethal substance.

Here is a worthwhile article by Brian Bird, assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Peter A. Allard School of Law.

EFC brochure on euthanasia and mental illness: downloadable pdf

People with mental illness alone will become eligible for assisted dying beginning in March 2024 (delayed from the original date of March 2023 by Bill C-39, to give doctors more time to prepare).

Resource: a 6 page pdf article from EFC

Resources from EFC on Bill C-314 would exclude a mental disorder from being considered a grievous and irremediable medical condition for the purposes of Medical Assistance in Dying. This would mean that no one would be eligible for MAID for mental illness alone.

Pick up a postcard at OCC that you can mail for free to our MP or use this sample letter


History of MAid in Canada

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled physician-assisted dying could be allowed in certain circumstances. The EFC was an intervener in the Carter case, arguing for the sanctity of human life.

The federal government passed a law setting up medical assistance in dying (MAID) in 2016. This initial law restricted hastened death to people nearing the end of life, whose natural death was “reasonably foreseeable” in the wording of the law. The law also required that a person be 18 years of age or older, capable of consent, and have a serious and incurable illness or disability. The EFC argued against Bill C-14, out of concern for vulnerable Canadians and that the law would move Canadian society away from a presumption for life.

In 2021 the government removed critical safeguards from the law. The most significant change was that Bill C-7 allowed hastened death for people who were not dying. It also allowed euthanasia and assisted suicide for people suffering from mental illness alone, with a two-year delay before taking effect. The EFC opposed expanding the law and argued for the strictest possible safeguards.

MAID for mental illness has been delayed until March 2024. There are no additional safeguards in the legislation for people who are suffering solely from mental illness.

parliamentary committee that studied euthanasia and assisted suicide has recommended removing the minimum age, so that it is available to minors who are deemed capable of making a decision for MAID. The committee also recommended allowing advance requests for euthanasia, which would mean that people could have their lives ended when they are no longer capable of consent. The EFC had strongly urged the committee not to expand euthanasia/assisted suicide further.