Thursday, February 1, 2024

The federal government plans to pause euthanasia for mental illness until March, 2027.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition calls on Members of Parliament to reject euthanasia for mental illness.
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Canada's Health Minister, Mark Holland, has introduced a bill that would delay the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness until March, 2027.

Stephanie Taylor and Laura Osman reported for the Canadian Press that:
Health Minister Mark Holland introduced legislation that, if passed, would postpone the government's plan to expand the medical assistance in dying program until March 2027.

It would be the second such delay for the expansion, after Liberals added a year to the timeline just before the change was supposed to take effect last March.

Now, the next implementation date is being pushed well past the next federal election, which must happen no later than fall 2025.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is pleased with the delay, but we will be urging all Members of Parliament to reject euthanasia for mental illness. When considering that most Canadians who support euthanasia do so based on the person being terminally ill and capable of consenting, people who ask for euthanasia based on mental illness alone are not terminally ill and have a questionable ability to consent.

Join our campaign by ordering parliamentary post-cards (above) that state: I demand that the government reverse its decision to permit “MAiD” for mental illness alone. The cards are ordered for free by contacting EPC at: 1-877-439-3348 or email:

The decision by Health Minister Holland will make this issue an election "wedge issue" as stated by The Canadian Press report:
Should he form the next government, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has pledged to scrap the expansion altogether.
Nearly every Province asked for the delay and Québec passed legislation last year prohibiting euthanasia for mental illness. The Canadian Press reported:
Quebec passed its own provincial law last year to exclude adults from accessing a medically assisted death solely for a mental disorder.

A spokesperson for the Manitoba government says it welcomes the three-year extension, while Alberta maintains its belief that assisted dying for medical disorders doesn't belong in health care at all.

"While we are pleased to know this is not happening next month, our call remains on the federal government to indefinitely delay and stop this policy from ever existing in Canada," Dan Williams, its mental health and addiction minister, said in a statement.
Euthanasia activist Senators Stan Kutcher and Pamela Wallin argued that delaying euthanasia for people with mental illness discriminates against their rights.

It was Senator Kutcher who originally introduced the amendment to Bill C-7 to permit euthanasia for mental illness alone and Senator Wallin has been promoting euthanasia by advanced request.

EPC thanks Hon Ed Fast who sponsored Bill C-314, a bill that would have removed euthanasia for mental illness in Canada's law. The bill was defeated last fall by a vote of 167 to 150 but the excellent debate around Bill C-314 that motivated people to pressure the government to not implement euthanasia for mental illness.

As stated earlier, EPC welcomes the delay in implementing euthanasia for mental illness but we continue to urge all members of parliament to reject the concept of euthanasia for mental illness and we will be active in the next election reminding Canadian which Members of Parliament voted against Bill C-314.


Anonymous said...

Is there a chance the Senate could stop this pause?

Voice of Gone Ballistic said...

I would think the only way the government can prevent MAID for mental illness is for the definition of mental illness to change and say that mental illness is not a disease of the body but is psychological i.e. divorce it from medical.

Alex Schadenberg said...

They can do what Bill C-314 did, that is state that it is not an irremediable medical condition.

Janice said...

Good news. It now allows time to correct this without the threat of time running out.
Hopefully Poilievre will stand by his conviction.
Thank you, Alex, for all your hard work and dedication.

Vi said...

What a relief, for now!

Alex Schadenberg said...

Canada's Senate could prevent the government from pausing euthanasia for mental illness.