DWDC statement re: The Road Ahead AMAD report

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Today, the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying recommended yet another delay to MAID for those whose sole underlying condition is a mental disorder. At this stage, there is a lack of clarity on what this recommendation will mean, and we urge the government to respond swiftly with a clear plan of action. Dying With Dignity Canada will continue to educate people across Canada on end-of-life choice and assist in breaking through the misinformation.  

For the people across the country who live with treatment-resistant mental disorders who have patiently waited 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 preparation committed to by the Government are 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, but that this is still in the long term plans of the government. 

“When I heard that assisted dying for people suffering with mental health was coming in March of 2023, I discussed it with my doctors and family. Of course, they did not want to lose me, but they all knew how much I have suffered and supported me in my decision. When it was postponed for another year, I was devastated. I can no longer feel any joy or happiness, only misery and suffering. My illness is just as difficult and debilitating as a physical one. I should be given the same choice to end my suffering. I want to die peacefully with my family by my side. Please, no more delays,” Cathy V. 

The government needs to recognize that the work tasked for preparation has been done, there has been plenty of competent testimonies from psychiatrists, ethicists, and the MAID community that support moving forward; we are at the point where regulators and the provinces and territories can begin this work. We cannot continue to breach the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and exclude those suffering from treatment-resistant, longstanding mental illness. 

Empower. Inform. Protect your rights.