After months of pushback from Canadians, the Liberals announced they would delay their plan to expand the eligibility criteria for assisted suicide.
On Thursday, Canadian Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti said the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) plan needs reconsideration.
Last year, the Liberal government passed legislation expanding eligibility for medically assisted suicide to include those with mental health illnesses.
The legislation was scheduled to come into effect March 2023.
“It is clear that more time is needed to get this right which brings us to today’s Bill C-39,” Lametti said on Thursday.
“The proposed one year expansion is necessary to ensure that we move forward on this sensitive and complex issue in a prudent and measured way,” he added.
Lametti scapegoated COVID for the delay rather than suggesting the plan was rushed.
He further said a delay will allow studies on the risks associated with providing assisted suicide to those with mental illnesses.
Lametti said the plan could have moved forward as originally scheduled, “but we want to be sure, we want to be safe, we want everyone to be on the same page.”
Last year, after the expanded eligibility criteria was announced, public outcry was fierce.
In December, a veteran testified that she was offered assisted suicide by the government in response to her frustration that she didn’t have wheelchair access in her home.
“I have a letter saying that if you are so desperate, madam, we can offer you MAID,” said retired Corporal Christine Gauthier.
Shortly after, a young Canadian woman went viral on social media after she announced she will apply for assisted suicide when eligibility officially expands.
In a video posted to TikTok, the woman said she has Bipolar Disorder, which causes extreme mood swings of emotional highs and depressive lows.
“I’ve decided to go through with MAID (medical assistance in dying),” she said.
“I have to wait for it to be legalized in March, so that’s three months, and then the process takes roughly four months.”
According to a Forbes report, Canada leads the world in assisted suicides, with 10,064 in 2021. Eighty-one percent of the requests were honoured in Canada.