We are so thankful to have good news to share about euthanasia laws in Canada!
Let’s pause for a moment to be thankful and celebrate. It’s not the complete stop that we want and firmly believe should happen, but a delay of MAiD for mental illness means people in vulnerable moments will be better protected for a longer time. It’s at least a check to the momentum of rapid MAiD expansion.
Here’s what’s happening
Yesterday the committee studying medical assistance in dying (MAiD) recommended delaying MAiD for mental illness. In its report, the committee concluded that the medical system in Canada is not ready and recommended a delay.
The committee held three days of hearings on the question of Canada’s readiness for expansion in November and December. They received hundreds of written submissions, including from the EFC. The EFC’s submission outlined reasons not to go ahead with euthanasia for mental illness, stating, “It is unconscionable that in Canada it may become easier for a person with mental illness to access MAID than the care and supports they need to live.”
In response to the committee report, the Health and Justice Ministers say that the government agrees that the medical system isn’t ready and that they will introduce a bill to delay MAiD for mental illness in the coming days. As a CBC article reports, Health Minister Holland said, "The system needs to be ready and we need to get it right," he said. "It's clear from the conversations we've had that the system is not ready and we need more time."
They didn’t give details about the delay, whether it would be an indefinite delay as the committee recommended, or a delay for a certain period of time.
The time frame is short. If no bill is passed to make a change, MAiD for mental illness will become available on March 17, 2024. That leaves about a month and a half to pass legislation to delay, which is breakneck speed for Parliament.
A bill to delay MAiD for mental illness will have to pass in both the House of Commons and the Senate. Many MPs seem open to delaying MAiD for mental illness. In fact, the bill to stop MAiD for mental illness altogether was defeated by a close vote last fall. It seems likely that a delay will pass in the House of Commons.
If a bill to delay MAiD passes in the House of Commons, please contact your MP to say thank you. When we ask our MPs to hear our concerns and take action, it’s important to circle back and thank them for acting.
It seems less clear what might happen when the bill reaches the Senate. The Senate has some strong pro-MAiD advocates. Because senators are appointed, they are not as concerned about the views of constituents.
Please, join us in praying for senators to be willing to delay MAiD for mental illness. If you would like to pray for senators by name, you can find the senators from your province or region here.
This good news of a delay comes after months of hard work. There have been many organizations (including the EFC), mental health professionals, doctors, lawyers - and individuals like you - who have called for a delay or a halt to MAiD for mental illness. We are so much more effective when we work together. Thank you to each and every one of you who contacted your MP and participated in EFC’s 10 days of action and It’s not too late campaigns. We’re grateful for your partnership and prayers.