Medical assistance in dying (MAID) in Canada is governed by various federal laws that have attempted to balance access, protection for vulnerable individuals, and support of autonomy and freedom of choice.
Following the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision inCarter v. Canada, the Parliament of Canada first passed federal legislation in June 2016 to allow eligible Canadians to request MAID. The original legislation did not allow minors, those with mental illness as the sole condition, or advance directives for MAID.
In March 2021, Parliament passed a Bill to revise the eligibility criteria for obtaining MAID and the assessment process. These changes came after the Superior Court of Quebec’s decision inTruchon that found the “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” eligibility criteria in theCriminal Codewas unconstitutional. The Bill stipulated that mental illness alone was insufficient to qualify for MAID, even if the other criteria were satisfied. This stipulation was to be repealed after 18 months. This meant that persons suffering solely from a mental illness who meet all eligibility criteria and for whom all applicable safeguards are met would be eligible for MAID as of March 17, 2023.
However, on February 2, 2023, Parliament introduced legislation to extend the temporary exclusion of eligibility for MAID where a person’s sole medical condition is a mental illness until March 17, 2024. The legislation received Royal Assent and immediately came into force on March 9, 2023.
This proposed extension is meant to allow additional time to consider the Special Joint Committee on MAID’s final report, which was only presented to the House of Commons on February 15, 2023. The extension of ineligibility will also allow the government of Canada to work with the provinces and territories to put in place key resources to support MAID assessors and providers.
We will continue to monitor the federal government’s plans and how they may impact Ontario’s health professionals.NOTE:Our blog is not intended to be legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us to see if we are able to assist.
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