DWDC statement re: Bill C-62 An act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)

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The Government of Canada has tabled Bill C-62 to delay eligibility of MAID for those whole sole underlying medical condition is a mental disorder until March 17, 2027 – in total, a six-year delay and denial of constitutional rights for suffering people across Canada. 

We stand with the individuals who are most grievously impacted by today’s announcement – those few but significant people across the country who live with treatment-resistant mental disorders who have been patiently waiting since 2021 for this change in Canada’s MAID law. Dying With Dignity Canada is disheartened and shares the frustration of the continued exclusion, stigmatization and discrimination based on diagnosis — a clear breach of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

From our perspective, there have been three productive years of preparations, and the necessary work committed to by the Government is complete. This includes the development of the Model Practice Standard for clinicians, the accompanying Advice to the Profession document, the release of the first nationally accredited Canadian MAID Curriculum, and changes to the reporting standards to include demographic info. Extensive work has also been done by provincial/territorial health services and MAID coordination teams across Canada. What we are hearing is that Canada is not ready, or that certain provincial politicians continue to have reservations about MAID for psychiatric disorders, but that is not what the medical, clinical and regulatory authorities had to say in their testimony. 

For example, at committee, Dr. Douglas Grant, Registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia indicated, “Regulators are ready for this. We don’t need any more time. In March 2024, all medical regulators will have guidance in place, professional standards in place that are built from or informed by the Model Practice Standard developed by the Health Canada Working Group. But the second reason why the regulators will be ready in March is that we have a solemn and legal duty to be ready.” 

The decision is not unanimously supported, in fact Senators Kutcher, Wallin, Mégie and, separately, Senators Thériault and Dalphond have submitted their own dissenting reports in advance of this Bill. We share Senators Kutcher, Wallin and Mégie’s perspective, “The paternalistic view that all competent people with mental disorders are unable to make informed decisions about their medical care is archaic, not aligned with reality, and condescending. Any person who is deemed capable and meets the eligibility criteria for MAID MD-SUMC should not be excluded from the care that is offered to all other Canadians.” 

Dying With Dignity Canada will take the time to consider next steps but for those who are waiting, rest assured, we will continue to advocate tirelessly in support of equity in Canada’s MAID law. 

Empower. Inform. Protect your rights.