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Statement on Recommendation to Delay Expansion of MAiD


January 29, 2024

I’m relieved to see Parliament’s Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (AMAD) taking the wise course of recommending a delay in the expansion of euthanasia and assisted suicide (or medical assistance in dying – MAiD) for those whose sole underlying condition is a mental disorder. Likewise, the federal government’s recently announced decision to delay expansion is welcome. As the government prepares to table legislation to this effect, it must put forward an indefinite pause.

As Cardus indicated in its own brief to the committee, not only are there inherent problems with reporting and oversight in the current provision of euthanasia, further expansion would be irresponsible given the existing barriers and gaps in mental health care. Additionally, fall 2023 polling by the Angus Reid Institute and Cardus found only 28% of Canadian supported this expansion, whereas 82% believed mental health care should be improved first, before expansion.

The committee’s study of expanded euthanasia included expert testimony and briefs from professionals within psychiatry, psychology, and mental health services who opposed expansion. Their concerns included the inherent difficulty of determining what constitutes “irremediability” within mental illness, as well as differentiating between suicidal ideation due to mental illness and a “reasoned” request for MAiD. Thankfully, the committee did not ignore these voices.

The Canadian government should place an indefinite pause on euthanasia for mental disorders as a sole underlying condition. At the same time, it must commit to addressing issues with the current provision of euthanasia. The government’s priority should be measures that help Canadians live with dignity, including ensuring universally available, high-quality palliative care, as well as addressing needs like housing and supports for those with physical disabilities and mental disorders.

– Rebecca Vachon, PhD, Program Director for Cardus Health

Other research on the issue of MAiD:

Submission to AMAD Committee on MAid for mental disorders

Public opinion polling on barriers to mental health access and expansion of MAiD for mental illness

Ethical Issues in Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Canada

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications

Cardus – Imagination toward a thriving society
Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good.