Statement by Ministers Lametti, Duclos and Bennett on medical assistance in dying in Canada

OTTAWA, ON, Dec. 15, 2022 /CNW/ – The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, today issued the following statement:

“There is no doubt that medical assistance in dying (MAID) is a complex and deeply personal issue. We are committed to ensuring our laws reflect Canadians’ evolving needs, protect those who may be vulnerable, and support autonomy and freedom of choice.

“Under the current MAID law, eligibility for MAID will be expanded to persons whose sole medical condition is a mental illness as of March 17, 2023. Listening to experts and Canadians, we believe this date needs to be temporarily delayed.

“Our government, the provinces and territories, and their medical communities have made important progress in preparing for March 2023. Delaying eligibility for persons whose sole medical condition is a mental illness would allow more time for dissemination and uptake of key resources by the medical and nursing communities. We also know that we need more time to consider the final report of the Special Joint Committee on MAID, expected in February 2023.

“For these reasons, today we are letting Canadians know that our government intends to work with our parliamentary colleagues in the House of Commons and the Senate to negotiate an extension of the March 17, 2023 eligibility date. This will require the introduction of legislation when the House of Commons and Senate returns in January.

“We will always put the safety and security of persons who may be vulnerable at the forefront of our actions, while supporting individual autonomy. 

“We remain committed to ensuring that any person who meets the eligibility criteria is able to have their MAID request considered in a fair, safe and consistent manner, no matter where they are located in Canada.”

Quick Facts
  • The revised legislation on MAID (former Bill C-7) received Royal Assent and became law on March 17, 2021. The new law expanded eligibility to MAID to individuals whose death is not reasonably foreseeable and strengthened the safeguards for these applicants.

  • Under the current law, individuals whose sole medical condition is a mental illness, and who otherwise meet all eligibility criteria, will not be eligible for MAID until March 17, 2023. This temporary exclusion was intended to provide the Government of Canada time to consider the Expert Panel on MAID and Mental Illness’ conclusions and recommendations, as well as the findings of the parliamentary Special Joint Committee on MAID.

  • The Government of Canada tabled the Expert Panel on MAID and Mental Illness’ final report in Parliament on May 13, 2022. The report sets out 19 recommendations for establishing a MAID regime that addresses questions that may arise in some MAID requests, and particularly where the person requesting MAID is not at risk of dying of natural causes in the near term. This includes questions of incurability, irreversibility, capacity, suicidality, and the impact of structural vulnerabilities (structural vulnerabilities being the effects of interactions between a person’s sex, gender, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, sexuality, or institutional location, with one’s position in society).

  • The Government of Canada has appointed a Task Group of experts to develop MAID practice standards, in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, regulatory bodies, and clinicians across Canada. These standards will be ready for uptake by health professional regulators and clinicians in February 2023. The federal government is also supporting the development of an accredited Canadian MAID curriculum to support clinician education and training.

  • The parliamentary Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying released an interim report on June 22, 2022. On the question of MAID and mental illness, the Special Joint Committee heard from various expert witnesses, including legal experts, palliative care providers, MAID practitioners, physicians, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, and the chair of the independent Expert Panel on MAID and Mental Illness. The Committee’s final report is expected by February 17, 2023, and may provide additional insight regarding MAID requests in complex circumstances, including for persons whose sole medical condition is a mental illness.
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SOURCE Department of Justice Canada

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