Government of Canada announces Expert Panel on Medical Assistance in Dying and Mental Illness

News release

August 13, 2021  |  Ottawa Ontario  |  Health Canada                    

Medical assistance in dying (MAID) is an important, sensitive and emotional issue for many Canadians. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring its laws support autonomy and freedom of choice for Canadians, and protect the vulnerable.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the Expert Panel on MAID and Mental Illness, as required by the new MAID legislation which came into force on March 17, 2021. The Expert Panel will present recommendations to the Minister of Health and Minister of Justice by March 2022 on protocols, guidance and safeguards for MAID by persons who have a mental illness.

The 12 members of the Expert Panel on MAID and Mental Illness reflect a range of disciplines and perspectives, including clinical psychiatry, MAID assessment and provision, law, ethics, health professional training and regulation, mental health care services, in addition to people who have lived experience with mental illness.

The new MAID law requires the Ministers of Health and Justice to present the Expert Panel’s final report in Parliament shortly after receiving it, after which the Government of Canada and Parliamentarians will be responsible for determining whether further legislative changes are needed.

The Expert Panel’s recommendations will help ensure that MAID can be delivered in a safe and compassionate way to persons suffering from mental illness, and that practitioners are equipped to assess requests based on rigorous clinical standards and legally mandated safeguards to be applied consistently across Canada. 

Quotes

“Protecting the vulnerable, including those suffering from mental illness or in crisis, is a priority for the Government of Canada. That is why the work of the Expert Panel is so important to me. The Expert Panel will provide us with independent, objective advice on safe and appropriate ways to assess and provide MAID to individuals living with mental illness who are seeking this avenue to end their suffering. The work of the Expert Panel will be difficult, but will provide Canadians with reassurances that we are balancing justice with compassion.” 

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Canada’s Minister of Health

“Our government remains committed to ensuring that our laws protect those who are vulnerable. This is especially important in the context of a complex issue such as MAID. I look forward to following the work of the Expert Panel on MAID and Mental Illness and to reading the Panel’s conclusions. Their work is critical to ensure MAID is provided in a safe and compassionate way to all eligible Canadians.”

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Quick facts

  • The revised legislation on MAID (former Bill C-7) received Royal Assent and became law on March 17, 2021. The new law expanded eligibility to MAID to individuals whose death is not reasonably foreseeable, while also amending other aspects of the safeguards included in the law. 

  • Canadians whose only medical condition is a mental illness, and who otherwise meet all eligibility criteria, will not be eligible for MAID until March 17, 2023. This temporary exclusion will provide the Government of Canada with time to study the Expert Panel’s conclusions and recommendations and determine the best approach to respond to them.

  • As per the revised legislation, a report containing the Expert Panel’s conclusions and recommendations must be submitted to the Ministers by March 17, 2022 (i.e. within one year from the date of Royal Assent of former Bill C-7).

  • The Expert Panel’s report will assist Parliamentarians in considering whether additional safeguards should be added for persons seeking MAID who suffer from mental illness. Professional regulatory bodies and associations can also develop appropriate guidance and resources for their members in anticipation of MAID eligibility for persons with a mental illness by March 17, 2023.

  • The changes to Canada’s MAID law were the result of over five years of experience with MAID in Canada. The new law responds to feedback from over 300,000 Canadians, experts, practitioners, stakeholders, provinces and territories, provided during the January and February 2020 consultations. It is also informed by the testimony of over 120 expert witnesses heard throughout former Bill C-7’s study by the House of Commons and the Senate.

Associated links

Contacts

Thiery Bélair
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Health Canada
613-957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
(613) 992-6568
Chantalle.Aubertin@justice.gc.ca

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada
613-957-4207
media@justice.gc.ca

Public Enquiries:
613-957-2991
1-866-225-0709

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