Can you ask the government to help you die in Canada if you have mental illness? That was the plan but now the government will put that off for a bit.
The MAID program in Canada, an acronym for Medical Assistance in Dying, was implemented to help people with terminal illness end their lives. The program excluded people with mental illness but that exclusion is set to expire in March and the Trudeau government was ready to allow people with mental illness to take up the offer to die.
Ministers across Canada are begging for this extension to be put on an “indefinite pause.” Several medical associations have echoed this request including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association and the Canadian Psychological Association. Their concern stems from this report which found “a lack of evidence to support the expansion of MAID eligibility to people with mental illness. The report also raised concerns about the potential for coercion and exploitation of vulnerable individuals.”
Health Minister Mark Holland says that he will delay implementation of this “to make sure that we take the time necessary to get this right.”
What could they change in a few days that they couldn’t change over the course of the last year? It is dangerous to tell people with mental illness that they can just kill themselves, especially as the definition of mental illness expands on a daily basis.
Holland said, “The legislative time frame is tight. We recognize that. This has to be done in advance of (March 17)…“I don’t see the timeline being a barrier but we do need to move expeditiously.”
What the heck does that mean?