Letter of support for Bill C-314 on reversing MAID for mental illness

23 February 2023
The Hon. Ed Fast
Member of Parliament for Abbotsford
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
February 23, 2023
Dear Mr. Fast,
We would like to express our support for your private member’s bill, Bill C-314. This legislation would exclude a mental disorder from being considered a grievous and irremediable medical condition for the purposes of Medical Assistance in Dying.
There are so many reasons to halt this expansion and walk back the provisions passed in Bill C-7 that allowed it. Despair and suicidality can be a symptom of some mental illnesses. Our message to Canadians struggling with despair must be that their lives are valuable and worth living. And our response must be to ensure appropriate mental health care and supports are available, rather than to offer hastened death.
One in 10 Canadians waiting for counseling services will wait more than four months. This means that waiting lists for treatment may be longer than the three-month reflection period for MAID. There are also financial barriers to receiving treatment that put it out of reach for many low-income Canadians. It is unconscionable that it would be easier to access hastened death in Canada than it is to access the support and services needed to live.
But even where mental health care is available, psychiatric professionals have cautioned that assessing the irremediability of mental disorders is very challenging, if not impossible. A delay in expansion to assess the readiness of the health care system is not enough. We must reverse the expansion of MAID for mental illness.
We commend your efforts to halt the expansion of MAID for mental illness as the sole underlying medical condition.
Julia Beazley
Director, public policy
Author: Julia Beazley