FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 30, 2024
TORONTO, ON – Government officials have indicated that doctor-assisted suicide for people whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness will not become legal on March 17th, 2024. Inclusion Canada, the national organization for people with an intellectual disability, demands a full repeal of the ‘sunset clause,’ which sets a looming deadline for the expansion of assisted suicide.
The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (AMAD) has recommended an indefinite delay and for MAiD for mental illness to not come into effect until key stakeholders can agree that it “can be done safely.”
We are hopeful that this will be the first of many actions taken to bring Canada’s MAiD law back into alignment with disability rights.
“We’re facing a mental health crisis,” says Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President of Inclusion Canada. “ While the committee’s focus on ‘readiness’ may lead you to believe that we will someday be ready for this, I don’t see it that way. The most responsible path forward is to remove the ‘sunset clause’ from the legislation altogether, and put all of our collective energy into providing the supports necessary for people to live good lives in community.”
Due to a “sunset clause” in the federal MAiD law, carelessly introduced in 2021, people with a mental illness were originally to become eligible for MAiD on March 17, 2023. The timeline was delayed to March of 2024. Now, the Special Joint Committee has recommended an indefinite delay.
Inclusion Canada is not alone in being critical of the government’s ever-expanding MAiD law. The AMAD committee cites staff from the Department of Justice, who indicate that there are Charter considerations supporting the prohibition of MAiD for mental illness.
“I’d encourage elected officials to not prepare for MAiD for mental illness like it is a given,” says Moira Wilson, President of Inclusion Canada, “It’s time to chart a new course and support people with a mental illness to live well. Nothing is forcing the government to go forward. Once and for all, repeal the sunset clause.”
New Statistics Canada data reveals that mental health-related disability is the fastest-growing disability in the country. And half of all Canadians have unmet mental health care needs. According to a Senate report, the federal suicide-prevention strategy has failed.
Four out of five people with a mental illness have at least one other disability. They may be eligible for assisted suicide under the current law because of their disability.
Inclusion Canada urges Parliament to not stop at re-evaluating only MAiD for mental illness. The current law, which makes assisted suicide available to people with disabilities, is also highly problematic and needs to be re-assessed.
Join us in calling the government to act. First, repeal the sunset clause. Immediately thereafter, resolve the harmful and discriminatory effects of Canada’s existing assisted suicide law on persons with a disability.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Marc Muschler, Senior Communications Officer
416-661-9611 ext. 232
About Inclusion Canada
Inclusion Canada is a nationwide community that champions the rights and inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families, allies, and local associations across Canada. The organization is committed to creating an inclusive Canada where everyone, regardless of intellectual capability, is valued and fully engaged in community life.