Recently Canada has made steps towards expanding their medical assistance in dying policies (M.A.I.D) to include people with mental illness as their only diagnosis; a step many believe to be ableist. M.A.I.D. first became legal in 2016 and only included those who were in great suffering due to a chronic illness that would inevitably lead to their death where the patient could choose to take a lethal injection or a pill to end their life. Many see the original policy as a positive thing allowing people who are in extreme pain to “die with dignity”. However, with changes in motion to include those with limited diagnosis without a foreseeable natural death and even children with certain qualifications, people are saying Canada has gone too far.
Unlike many countries, Canada has very little restriction when it comes to promoting M.A.I.D.. Doctors can recommend it to patients as soon as they qualify even if they haven’t exhausted other treatment options. This can be harmful as many who have never even considered ending their life are being pushed in that direction, as it can be interpreted as genuine medical advice. Some hospitals even take that step, according to AP News doctors simply mention it as one of their “care options,” (AP News, Cheng). Often it is so difficult to receive support for mental health that many people find themselves choosing euthanasia (AP News, Cheng).
Opening up M.A.I.D. to those with mental health is also counter-intiutive to suicide prevention campaigns. The New York Times suggests, “that death was being inappropriately raised as an alternative to treatment or more support,” (Austen NYT) essentially these new policies are devaluing the lives of those already struggling with mental health rather than giving them access to more treatment options. Those facing difficulty paying rent or just getting by who have a pre-existing mental health issue are now considering M.A.I.D. as they are not receiving enough government support to survive. These new policies are a loophole for the government to not give aid to those who need it most.
Starting in 2016 as a way to help those suffering from terminal illness, Canada’s M.A.I.D. policies as of 2021 have taken a dark turn. Including those with no other medical diagnosis besides issues with mental health is dangerous and can lead to thousands of deaths that likely could be prevented with proper medical intervention.
Austen, Ian. “Is Choosing Medically Assisted Death Too Easy in Canada?” The New York Times, 20 September 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/18/world/canada/medically-assisted-death.html. Accessed 20 January 2023.
CHENG, MARIA. “’Disturbing’: Experts troubled by Canada’s euthanasia laws.” AP News, 11 August 2022, https://apnews.com/article/covid-science-health-toronto-7c631558a457188d2bd2b5cfd360a867. Accessed 20 January 2023.