For Immediate Release
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Inclusion Canada, the national organization of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families, is calling for further change to Canada’s medical assistance in dying (MAiD) law now that Bill C-62 has passed.

Bill C-62 was passed by the Senate on February 29th, and will soon receive Royal Assent. Through this bill, the federal government has delayed the legalization of medical assistance in dying on the basis of mental illness as a sole medical condition by three years – until 2027. If Bill C-62 hadn’t been passed beforehand, MAiD for mental illness would have automatically become legal on March 17th, 2024 due to a “sunset clause” in the existing legislation.

“We’re relieved that MAiD for mental illness has been delayed, but more sweeping changes to our MAiD legislation are needed,” said Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President of Inclusion Canada, “A repeal of the sunset clause and a repeal of track two in its entirety is urgently required.”

Canada’s current MAiD law – which offers assisted suicide to people with a disability whose death is not reasonably foreseeable under “track two”- reinforces the deeply-embedded ableist belief that life with a disability is a life worse than death. Carr maintains that it is “incredibly harmful.”

In 2019, then Justice Minister David Lametti chose not to appeal a lower court decision which called for MAiD to be made available to persons with disabilities whose deaths are not reasonably foreseeable. He did so despite pleas from people with disabilities, disability organizations of persons with disabilities, and warnings from the United Nations.

Representatives of the United Nations have indicated that the existing law is discriminatory.

Health Canada has reported 682 MAiD deaths where the person did not have a reasonably foreseeable death, more than one death a day in the first 21.5 months following the 2021 changes to eligibility criteria.

“Families of people with disabilities, like mine, are terrified by track two MAiD and its potential further expansion,” said Moira Wilson, President of Inclusion Canada, “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.” 

Wilson continued “When people with a disability reach the point of considering MAiD, they’re experiencing a crisis created by a society that excludes them – it’s that simple. Inclusion Canada understands this to be true; it’s time for our elected officials to connect the dots as well.”

Inclusion Canada would like to see elected officials bring Canada’s MAiD law back into alignment with disability rights by repealing track two, and for the government to make significant investments in community-based disability support and mental health care. The organization urges the government to defend these proposed changes in court.

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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.