Conservative MP Ed Fast said Monday he’ll soon table a bill to repeal a Liberal law that permits the mentally unwell to access medical assistance in dying (MAID).
Talking to reporters on Parliament Hill, Fast said the MAID regime, first introduced by the Liberal government in 2016, must have never been prolonged to people suffering solely from mental illness — a vulnerable group he said must be offered help, not death.
“Those affected by mental disorders, including depression, deserve mental health and social support and counselling. They need to seek out some joy and a few meaning in life,” Fast said.
“It’s deeply concerning that this government appears to be moving from a culture of life to a culture of death.”
WATCH: Poilievre supports bill to withhold MAID from those suffering solely from mental illness
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre was readily available for Fast’s announcement.
He said some individuals are affected by mental health disorders due to the federal government’s policies.
“After eight years of Justin Trudeau, all the pieces feels broken and other people feel broken. That is why many are affected by depression they usually’re losing hope,” Poilievre said.
“Our job is to show their hurt back into hope. To treat mental illness problems relatively than ending people’s lives.”
Poilievre said that if Fast’s private member’s bill fails to clear Parliament, a government led by him would introduce laws to repeal MAID for the mentally unwell.
Asked if he would invoke the notwithstanding clause to guard such a law from constitutional challenges, Poilievre said that would not be essential because courts have never said the mentally unwell must have access to MAID.
After the MAID bill’s initial passage, the Liberal government was forced by a Quebec court decision to expand access after judges there found the “reasonably foreseeable” death clause unconstitutional.
In response, Ottawa amended the eligibly requirements in 2021 to permit anyone with “a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability” who’s in “a complicated state of irreversible decline” to access MAID.
However the court never demanded that the mentally unwell be added to the list of eligible groups.
That got here from the Senate. In 2021, the Red Chamber passed a controversial amendment to permit those with a grievous or irremediable mental illness to access the procedure.
Some senators claimed it might be discriminatory to exclude the mentally unwell because, like those with severe physical ailments, additionally they sometimes endure intolerable suffering.
The federal government accepted that amendment, allowing Canada to turn into certainly one of only just a few countries that permits for doctor-assisted death for mental disorders.
But following an outcry from some mental health professionals, Justice Minister David Lametti tabled laws earlier this 12 months to push off access until in March 2024 — giving the medical community more time to develop adequate guidelines.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the federal government is “still consulting to guard Canadians.”
“MAID is a really complex and private issue. It’s never been a partisan issue and it actually shouldn’t turn into one,” the spokesperson told CBC News.
WATCH: Tory MP says Ottawa is promoting a ‘culture of death’
Fast said it is not enough to delay implementation — the mentally unwell must be barred from the regime entirely.
“My bill will simply return the state of our law to what it might have been had the unelected Senate and compliant government not intervened,” Fast said.
“Let me be clear. There is no such thing as a consensus across Canada that medical assistance suicide must be prolonged to the mentally unwell.”
In a 2020 transient on the problem, the Canadian Psychiatric Association said that excluding the mentally unwell from MAID “propagates a false distinction between mental health and physical health, and the impact shall be increased stigma for many who live with psychiatric illnesses.”
“Patients with a psychiatric illness mustn’t be discriminated against solely on the premise of their disability, and will have available the identical options regarding MAID as available to all patients,” the association said.
Independent Sen. Stan Kutcher, a psychiatrist who has treated the mentally unwell for many years, supported an extension of MAID.
In a 2021 speech, Kutcher said people like his patients must be “respected, not discriminated against, and treated similarly to those with some other illness.”
But it surely’s a divisive issue. The association representing the lead psychiatrists at Canada’s 17 medical schools last 12 months called on Ottawa to delay MAID.
In November, the Association of Chairs of Psychiatry in Canada said more time is required to develop high-quality standards of care, doctor training and expert consensus before allowing Canadians to use for a medically assisted death with mental illness as their sole condition.
The law requires an irremediable condition with a view to qualify for MAID. But some psychiatrists say it’s difficult to accurately predict who will recuperate from a mental disorder.
The psychiatric chairs association said experts might want to agree on “operational” definitions of irremediability for various mental disorders, “because these definitions don’t currently exist.”
Conservative Sen. Denise Batters lost her husband Dave, a former MP, to suicide.
She said Canadians are “genuinely shocked” and “rightfully appalled” that the federal government has expanded MAID.
“I still wonder if there may need been one other way out for Dave, one other counsellor, one other medical treatment, one other conversation that may need made the difference. Due to finality of his selection, I won’t ever know,” she said.
“Mental illness just isn’t irremediable. There’s all the time hope for somebody to regain their health. As a compassionate society, we must give those enduring psychological suffering help and hope, not a neater solution to die.”