This week there is the chance to walk back part of the rapid expansion of euthanasia in Canada.
On March 17, 2024, five months from today, people with mental illness as their only underlying medical condition will be eligible for medical assistance in Dying, or MAiD. The law has already passed to make this change, with a delay before this provision came into effect.
Only half of Canadians (51%) are aware this change in the law is coming, according to an Angus Reid Forum poll commissioned by the EFC and released last week.
This change in the law is problematic for so many reasons, not least is that it continues to devalue human life.
A lack of hope for the future and a belief that things won’t change or get better can be a symptom of some mental illnesses. Thoughts of suicide or a desire to end one’s life can also be a symptom.
The law doesn’t have any safeguards specifically related to people who ask for MAiD when mental illness is their only medical condition. People say that MAiD will be a last resort after long attempts at other treatment have failed, but this isn’t actually what the law requires.
This comes at a time when the health care system is under extreme stress. Many Canadians who struggle with mental illness aren’t able to access the care they need, when they need it. A person who can’t afford treatment or can’t access it because of a long waiting list may be more likely to request MAiD. It shouldn’t be easier to obtain MAiD than it is to obtain mental health care or other needed medical or social supports.
Experts say it is very difficult to predict the course of an individual patient’s illness, and to know whether an individual patient will improve or not. This means a patient whose condition might have improved over time and with treatment may have their life ended through MAiD.
On Wednesday (Oct. 18), there will be a vote in the House of Commons on Bill C-314. This bill would reverse the law allowing MAiD when mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition.
This vote will determine whether Bill C-314 will be defeated or be subject to further study. If Bill C-314 passes this vote, it will go on to be studied at a parliamentary committee. It would have the potential to pass into law.
MPs always take note of what their constituents care about. With the vote on Bill C-314, they may be even more open to hearing from people in their riding. As one MP said in the debate last week, “I will look at the information that was provided and ultimately reflect on what I believe in this particular situation and what a vast majority of the constituents I represent would want me to say on this particular issue.”
A 5-minute phone call to your MP today could make a difference. Simply let your MP or the MP’s staff know that you are a constituent and that you are very concerned about MAiD for mental illness alone. Ask that your MP vote for Bill C-314. Leaving a voicemail message after office hours can also communicate your concern. For even more impact, contact your MP’s office by phone and email.
Please contact your MP in support of Bill C-314. This is a window of opportunity to walk back a law that will impact Canadians, particularly marginalized Canadians, in their times of vulnerability. And please pray for our neighbours, family and friends who are experiencing mental illness.
Find your MP using your postal code at https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en. See EFC’s website for more information, www.TheEFC.ca/C314 or www.TheEFC.ca/TakeActionOnMAID.