Medical assistance in dying for those with a mental disorder as the sole underlying condition.
Bill C-7 committed to convening a panel of experts to recommend protocols, guidance, and safeguards to apply to requests made for medical assistance in dying by persons who have a mental disorder. That panel was convened in August 2021 and submitted their report to the Minister of Health and Justice on May 13, 2022.
On June 22, 2022, the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying tabled its interim report on MAID for those with a mental disorder as the sole underlying condition. On February 15, 2023, the Committee tabled its final report, covering all aspects of the Parliamentary Review.
On March 9, 2023, Bill C-39 received Royal Assent – extending the sunset clause on MAID and mental disorders until March 17, 2024.
Medical assistance in dying (MAID) for those whose sole underlying condition is a mental disorder (MD-SUMC) includes conditions that are primarily within the domain of psychiatry, such as depression and personality disorders. It does not include neurocognitive and neurodevelopmental disorders, nor other conditions that may affect cognitive abilities. To be clear, neurocognitive disorders such as dementia, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s are not considered mental illnesses and are not included in the temporary restriction as directed in Bill C-7 in March 2021. Some people with neurocognitive and neurodevelopmental disorders, such as dementia, can currently qualify for MAID, if they meet all the criteria.
An Ipsos poll, commissioned by Dying With Dignity Canada in 2023, showed that a strong majority (80%) of people across Canada support the notion that with the appropriate safeguards in place, an adult with the capacity to provide informed consent should be able to seek an assessment for medical assistance in dying for a severe, treatment-resistant mental disorder for which they experience intolerable suffering.
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Excluding individuals with mental disorders from end-of-life choice is stigmatizing, discriminatory and unconstitutional.
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