For Immediate Release
Friday, February 23, 2024

OTTAWA, ON – At a press conference at the National Press Gallery, Inclusion Canada, joined by representatives from ARCH Disability Law Centre, DAWN Canada, and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, called for an indefinite delay to the legalization of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) for those with a mental illness as their sole medical condition; the groups seek an amendment to Bill C-62 which would repeal the “sunset clause” in Canada’s MAiD law. Following this, the organizations are calling for the repeal of track two, which makes MAiD available for people with disabilities not at the end of life.

This call to action echoes that of the majority of the Special Joint Committee on MAiD, provincial and territorial ministers of health, and the Board of the Society of Canadian Psychiatry, amongst others.

The event was sponsored by Senator Marilou McPhedran.

The organizations are seeking Bill C-62 to be passed by March 1st, with one key amendment: a full repeal of the “sunset clause.” Bill C-62 would delay the availability of assisted suicide on the basis of mental illness to 2027. If the “sunset clause” were to be repealed, Canada would no longer have a firm date upon which MAiD for mental illness will automatically become legalized.

“The sunset clause needs to go,” says Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President of Inclusion Canada, who spoke at the press conference, “Despite what some may believe, greater access to assisted suicide shouldn’t be inevitable; not now and not ever. In fact, there are big problems with Canada’s existing MAiD law, which makes assisted suicide available to people who are not at the end of life, on the basis of their disability status. We’ve already gone too far.”

Carr was not alone in raising concerns with Canada’s current MAiD law – and its discriminatory impact on people with disabilities. Kerri Joffe, from ARCH disability law centre, spoke about how MAiD for people with disabilities whose deaths are not reasonably foreseeable (track two MAiD) is a core concern being communicated by the disability community to the United Nations through an ongoing rights monitoring process.

Bonnie Brayton, with DAWN Canada, highlighted how women with disabilities are over-represented in track-two deaths, warning that if MAiD for mental illness were to become available, this trend would worsen. And Heather Walkus, from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, boldly called for a repeal of track two, following C-62’s passage.

“It’s time to bring Canada’s MAiD laws back into alignment with disability rights,” said Moira Wilson, President of Inclusion Canada, when asked to comment on the press conference. “Families of people with disabilities, like mine, are terrified by track two MAiD and its potential further expansion. We want our children to be fully valued as equal citizens, supported to live good lives and be fully included in the community, not offered state-assisted suicide on the basis of “suffering” that is not inherent in their disability but rather is a result of lack of income and disability support. My son’s life should be of value, irrespective of his disability. He should not feel or be threatened because he has a disability, yet this is our Canada at the moment. The government should start by doing away with the ‘sunset clause,’ but the work certainly doesn’t end there.”

Without intervention from parliamentarians, medical assistance in dying for mental illness will become legal on March 17, 2024. Given the current sitting calendar, MPs and Senators have one week to make this happen. To access our media kit, please click here.


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.