Ottawa is once again indefinitely postponing the expansion of medical assistance in dying (MAID) for people with mental disorders after announcing a one-year delay in February 2023.
Federal Health Minister Mark Holland and Justice Minister Arif Virani said on Monday the system was “not ready” to implement the policy, a conclusion reached by a parliamentary committee.
“It's not a question of if, but when, but we need more time because the system is not ready for this moment at the moment […]», assured Minister Holland in the press crowd on Monday.
He wanted to make it clear that there is an “equivalence” between physical and mental suffering. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it,” he said.
Expanding MAID to people who only suffer from mental disorders is one of the most controversial aspects of federal law.
This dimension of MAID should have already been adopted and implemented according to the Liberal timetable by this point, but ethical complexity has led to various shifts over the years.
“We have listened to experts, members of the medical community and concerned citizens who have asked for more time,” former federal justice minister David Lametti said at a press conference last year.
Minister Lametti then said he “understands” people disappointed by the postponement, “but that the extension is necessary to ensure that MAID is administered safely and consistently in cases where mental disorders are the only medical condition.”