Nov 22, 2020
By Jeremy Logan
The federal bill revising the rules on medically assisted death in Canada has raised the ire of the Canadian Psychiatric Association over the proposed law’s explicit rejection of mental illness as grounds for ending a patient’s life.
The federal government maintains that denying Canadians with debilitating mental illnesses the right to medically assisted death is simply a matter of continuing a prohibition that already exists in the law.
In fact, a small number of Canadians suffering solely from severe, irremediable mental disorders have received assisted deaths during the four years the procedure has been legally available.
The government is now proposing to expressly exclude such people as it amends the law to expand eligibility for everyone else.
Some psychiatrists say that stigmatizes people with mental illnesses, minimizes their suffering and reinforces the myth that they could be cured if they just tried harder.
What’s more, they believe the exclusion violates Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees equal treatment under the law regardless of physical or mental disability.