Canada is set to legalize euthanasia for those suffering from mental health concerns, including substance abuse disorders, as it continues to expand the eligibility for assisted suicide.
Medical Assistance in Dying, commonly referred to as MAID, was first introduced in Canada in 2016. Though it was initially legalized for Canadians with “grievous and irremediable [physical] medical conditions,” it was expanded in 2021 to include incurable conditions that did not have an imminent risk of death.
But the eligibility for MAID set to be expanded once again in March of 2024 to include those suffering purely with mental health disorders, such as depression and anorexia. According to an expert panel report to Canada’s parliament, the new guidance will make Canada one of the most liberal countries in the world for assisted suicide.
This week, the conference of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine will discuss the expansion and its impact on those who suffer from a substance abuse disorder. At the conference, Dr. David Martell, the physician lead for Addictions Medicine at Nova Scotia Health, will be discussing the framework for assessing the eligibility of those with substance abuse concerns.
Disturbingly, Dr. Martell has already labelled the expansion an issue of “equality” and exclusion.
“I don’t think it’s fair, and the government doesn’t think it’s fair, to exclude people from eligibility because their medical disorder or their suffering is related to a mental illness,” says Dr. Martell. “As a subset of that, it’s not fair to exclude people from eligibility purely because their mental disorder might either partly or in full be a substance use disorder. It has to do with treating people equally.”
However, before the new regulations come into effect in March, the special joint committee on MAID in the Canadian Parliament is set to be recalled to provide further oversight. It follows the effort of Conservative Member of Parliament Ed Fast to block the move.
“Conservatives will continue to fight for those who are left behind by this legislation, and we will not support the expansion of MAID to include mental illness,” Fast said after his vote failed.
Speaking to The Publica, Canadian commentator Lauren Southern denounced the expansion of MAID to include those without incurable, terminal illness.
“It appears our government has decided it’s much easier to discard human beings than fix the environment they’ve created which leads them into such lifestyles,” Southern, who has been vocally critical of the MAID policy, said.
“The government’s idea of help is now to put you out of your misery rather than give you the tools you need to escape said misery. We’ve created a culture where people are entirely dependent on the government, stunted and pigeonholed into acceptable jobs the government allows that hardly earn a living wage,” Southern added.
“We put our faith and futures in the hands of the government, and they let us down – and now they’re putting us down because our cries for help are evidence contrary to the picture of perfect policy making they’d like to paint.”
Canada’s euthanasia program has already come under fire after a number of scandals, including when medical professionals allowed a man to die whose only listed medical condition was hearing loss.
As the proposed March expansion drawers nearer, a slew of concerning stories surrounding MAID recommendations have been circulated, including one in which a nurse suggesting suicide to veterans with PTSD, and another where doctor reportedly told a mother that she was “selfish” for not wanting her daughter with spina bifida to die.
As previously reported by The Publica, a Canadian woman was reportedly offered information on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) by a clinician at Vancouver General Hospital after seeking medical assistance for suicidal ideations.
Though struggling with depression, the woman was asked if she had considered MAID, advising her that wait times to see a psychiatrist are extremely long due to Canada’s “broken” medical system.