The Canadian federal government said its bill to delay the expansion of assisted suicide eligibility by one year is needed to determine which mental health sufferers are “irremediable.”
Last week, after months of pushback from Canadians, the Liberals announced they would delay their plan to expand the eligibility criteria for assisted suicide — which will include those strictly with mental health illnesses.
On Monday, during the second reading of the Bill in the House of Commons, Justice Minister David Lametti provided rationale for his proposed delay.
“This extension is needed to ensure the safe assessment and provision of MAID in circumstances where a mental illness forms the sole basis of a request for MAID,” he said.
“It is clear that the assessment and provision of MAID and circumstances where a mental illness is the sole grounds for a request for MAID, raises particular complexities, including difficulties with assessing whether the mental illness is in fact, irremediable.”
“And the potential impact of suicide ideation on such requests,” he added.
Lametti further said Liberals listened to Canadians’ concerns about MAID and agreed more time was needed to get it right. However, he also said “many experts” told him the legislation was ready as originally planned.
The legislation was scheduled to come into effect March 2023, but the Liberals proposed Bill C-39, which seeks to delay the start date by one year.
Lametti said it’s possible mental health suffering can be equivalent to a physical illness.
Conservative MP Rob Moore said the proposed delay is proof the original plan was rushed. Conservative MP Michael Cooper also said the “significant expansion” will impact vulnerable Canadians.
“Mr. Speaker, one would expect that a responsible government, before deciding to expand MAiD in cases of mental illness, would take the time to study the issue thoroughly and to consult widely with experts.”
“After all we are talking about life and death.”
“This Liberal government is not responsible because that is not what happened,” Cooper said.