Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Nunavut mental health crisis: Assisted death provided, mental health treatment not provided.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Beth Brown reported for CBC news that the care of people with mental health concerns in Nunavut was not considered during the Bill C-7 debate, the recently passed bill that expands Canada's euthanasia law to include people with mental illness. 

Brown is reporting on a meeting organized by the Embrace Life Council in Nunavut to discuss Bill C-7.

Brown interviewed Kylie Aglukark the Embrace Life Council President who is concerned that people in Nunavut are currently being sent away to receive treatment. Aglukark states:
"We're required already to leave the territory to access basic services," Aglukark said.

This is especially true for people who have a severe and long-term mental illness that could lead to the level of suffering that would make a person eligible for assisted dying.

"We need more [mental health] services.
Senator Dennis Patterson, who represents Nunavut told Brown that:
...the federal government has failed to bring mental health treatment to Nunavut, and there aren't enough mental health services in the territory for people to get better.

"There are organizations working against suicide and for wellness who are concerned that making it easier to choose to die with a mental illness in Nunavut without mental health supports, than to go on living and become well, is not a fair choice,"
Brown reported that medically assisted dying can be made available in the territory for any patient who is eligible, Nunavut's Health department said in an email.

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