Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition says that the expansion of euthanasia to include mental illness should be scrapped.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Marissa Galko, reported on the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) Press Conference for the National Post on February 27

The EPC press conference at the parliamentary press gallery was concerning Bill C-62, a bill which will delay the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness until March 2027. Bill C-62 has passed in parliament but the Senate continues to debate the bill.

EPC called on the goverment to block all expansions of euthanasia in Canada. Galko reports:

Hon Ed Fast speaking.
At a press conference, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition was joined by Conservative MP Ed Fast who said Canada should protect those with mental illness rather allowing them to die, saying it is a “life or death issue.”

“How is it that we, as parliamentarians, have repeatedly supported a strong national suicide prevention program, including a newly established 9-8-8 helpline, when, in the same breath, we advocate for euthanization for those very same individuals?” said Fast.
Galko then reported that the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supports the three-year delay, but would prefer that the government not expand MAID at all.
“The position of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is obviously that we welcome the delay but we actually oppose the concept of euthanasia for mental illness and the concept of even expanding to this,” said Alex Schadenberg, the coalition’s executive director.
Dr Paul Saba
Dr Paul Saba, a family physician from Montreal also spoke at the press conference. Galko reported:
Dr. Paul Saba, a family physician who spoke on behalf of the coalition, said Canada has a responsibility to offer proper remedies for those suffering with mental illness, such as access to psychiatrists and social workers.

Saba said there must be a “wide variety of alternative treatments” available to those who may otherwise resort to MAID “including art, music, dance, recreation, pet and other therapies.” He also said Canada should provide “free medications, affordable housing, and food security” to help with rehabilitation.
“People don’t want to die, they just want to end their psychological distress,” Saba said. “The longer someone lives with a mental illness, the less capable they are able to provide free and informed consent.”

Lia Milousis
Lia Milousis, an Ottawa human rights lawyer who spoke on behalf of the coalition, told her story of how she overcame depression. Galko reported:

“Having reached this point, I find it deeply disturbing to see our society is moving to a place where it would offer suicide assistance to those who really need suicide prevention,” she said.

She said that if MAID had been available to her while she was suffering from her depression, she “would not be here today.” Milousis asked what message this would send to those needing support, suggesting that governments should offer “a message of hope” instead.
Alex Schadenberg
Euthanasia for mental illness alone was legalized when Canada passed Bill C-7 in March 2021. At first the implementation of this part of the statute was delayed until March 2023. Last year the implementation was delayed until March 2024 and Bill C-62, if passed by Canada's Senate, will delay the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness alone until March 2027.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has argued that euthanasia for mental illness alone should not even be considered.

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