Canada Postpones Assisted Suicide Program For Mentally Ill

Canada is moving its plan to expand an associated suicide program to individuals suffering from mental illness. As announced by health officials this week, the expansion of the program has now been moved to 2027.

The original assisted suicide program involves offering medically assisted death to terminally and chronically ill individuals. The policy would allow anyone in Canada with a medical condition that is incurable to apply for assisted suicide whether or not the disease is terminal.

The plan to extend it to people with mental illnesses has generated a lot of controversy, as critics point to a lack of adequate psychiatric care in the country.

When it was announced last year, a good number of lawmakers spoke out against it, including conservative MP Ed Fast, who called the program a “culture of death.”

“Have we gone too far and too fast with Canada’s assisted suicide program? Will we evolve into a culture of death as the preferred option for those who suffer from mental illness or will we choose life?” he challenged.

The decision to postpone the plan was made as health officials say that Canada does not have enough psychiatrists to evaluate mentally ill people who want to die.

Health Minister Mark Holland and Justice Minister Arif Virani said that Canada is not ready to plunge into the expansion system.

Speaking to reporters, he said, “The system needs to be ready, and we need to get it right. It’s clear from the conversations we’ve had that the system is not ready, and we need more time.”

“Although the curriculum is present, although the guidelines are set, there has not been enough time for people to be trained on them, and provinces and territories are saying their systems are not ready and need more time,” he said further.

The decision to delay the expansion until 2027 comes after the extension was delayed till this year. When it expanded the dying law to include mental illness in 2021, the Canadian government said it would carry out the expansion to those suffering from mental illnesses in the next two years.

However, last year, it moved it till mid-march 2024.