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Critics Caution Against Plan to Expand Medical Assistance in Dying to Those With Mental Illness

The Canadian Press
Published Dec. 17, 2023

Hope is what kept Laurel Walker alive as thoughts of suicide overwhelmed her, and that is exactly what she says would be stripped from people battling the same darkness if Canada forges ahead with plans to expand medical assistance in dying to those with a mental disorder.

Proponents of the expansion, set for March 17, maintain that providing MAID to people with an incurable physical illness without giving the same right to those with an irremediable mental illness amounts to discrimination on the basis of a disability. Critics counter that there is insufficient evidence to predict whether or not someone will recover from a mental illness.

P.E.I. Mom Tracks Son in Toronto on Social Media, Struggles to Bring Him Home

Joanna Lavoie
CP24 Web Content Writer
Published Aug. 15, 2023

A Prince Edward Island woman’s months-long quest to bring her estranged son home from Toronto highlights the challenges families face accessing health care options for loved ones living with mental illness and the gaps in social supports, says one local street nurse.

Five years ago, Marlene Bryenton’s adult son started experiencing delusions and was diagnosed with a serious mental illness, she says. He was initially staying in various places in the Maritimes, but earlier this year relocated to southern Ontario.

As Canada Prepares to Expand Assisted Suicide, Advocates Warn of Threat to Mentally Ill

By Daniel Payne
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 31, 2023

Mental health advocates and pro-life activists are expressing concerns over a possible expansion of Canada’s assisted suicide rules that would permit residents
to seek fatal medical treatments even if they are not suffering from a fatal affliction.

Canada first legalized assisted suicide in June 2016 for adults suffering from irreversibly deadly illnesses. In 2021 the Canadian government said it would wait an additional two years to extend those services to mentally ill citizens to “study how MAiD [medical assistance in dying] on the basis of a mental illness can safely be provided.”

Delay of Eligibility for Medical Assistance In Dying for Persons Suffering Solely from Mental Illness Proposed by Ministers of Justice and Health

From: Department of Justice Canada
February 2, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Government of Canada

Medical assistance in dying (MAID) is a complex and deeply personal issue. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring our laws reflect Canadians’ needs, protect those who may be vulnerable, and support autonomy and freedom of choice.

Under Canada’s current MAID law, 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, today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, 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.

Denied Long-Term Disability for Mental Health Issues: Your Rights

December 16, 2022

In Canada, long-term disability (LTD) claims for mental health issues make up the lion’s share of claims filed each year.

Despite mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, being recognized as conditions that can affect your ability to do your job, many insurance companies still turn down legitimate claims.

By refusing to provide you with disability benefits, insurers are able to bolster their bottom line.

Not only does this prevent you from accessing crucial financial support, but it can add to the mental and emotional distress you are already dealing with before applying for disability benefits.

Canadian Mom’s Harrowing Tale Shows the Real Dangers of Legal Euthanasia

J-P Mauro – published on 10/13/22

When Margaret Marsilla found out her 23-year-old son scheduled his own death, she started her race against time.
An October 11 report from Common Sense tells the harrowing tale of a Canadian mother who discovered that her son scheduled himself to die. Her story offers a real-life account of the dangers that legalized euthanasia can pose to individuals in distress, the families they leave behind, and society as a whole.

NP View: The Truly Awful Cost of Canada’s Permissive Doctor-Assisted Death Program

Author of the article:National Post View
Publishing date:May 08, 2022

It has been quite remarkable to watch: In less than a decade, Canadas medical assistance in dying (MAID) program has expanded from a system limited solely to those with terminal illnesses, to one that is now used by people who lack adequate housing. And it will soon be available to those with mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Parliament should put the brakes on this runaway sled, and fix the current system.

BRAUN: With Bill C-7, Help for the Dying Becomes Assisted Suicide

Author of the article:Liz Braun
Publishing date:Apr 06, 2022

While you were busy avoiding the pandemic, a very huge can of worms called Bill C-7 was opened in Canada.

This bill allows Canada to expand doctor-assisted death to the chronically ill and eventually, the mentally ill.

Prior to this, MAiD – medical aid in dying – was available to the suffering whose death was already looming: a terminal cancer patient, for example, or someone with Lou Gehrig’s disease. A natural death was “reasonably foreseeable.”

That phrase no longer applies.

To have medical assistance in dying today, you need to be 18 or over and capable of giving informed consent.

Mental Health System ‘Fails’ Young Advocate Trying to Make It Better: Family

By Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative ReporterLondon Free Press Wed., March 16, 2022

Kristin Legault-Donkers, who pushed tirelessly to help others with mental health issues, is being remembered as a fighter who struggled with mental illness herself.

The St. Thomas woman died last Friday, choosing, as her obituary said, “to end her life after a courageous and publicly hard-fought battle with her mental illness.”

She was 25.

“She wanted to make a difference, which is what she did,” Joanne Donkers, her grandmother with whom she’d lived since she was 10, said Wednesday.

“She wanted to make a change in the mental health system. That was her goal,” Donkers said.

Trials Show Video Games Have Potential to Ease Canada’s Paediatric Mental Health-Care Crisis

By Pascale Malenfant
Dec 9, 2021

Over the course of early 2021, 40 youth between 10 and 17 attended 10 anger management sessions at the Boston Children’s Hospital.

Though these sessions had the same goal as any other form of anger management treatment to help patients develop self-calming strategies the therapy was anything but conventional. It involved desktop computers, heart monitors and an adapted version of the hit 1970s arcade game, Space Invaders.