An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)


Ed Fast  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Defeated, as of Oct. 18, 2023

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-314.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to provide that a mental disorder is not a grievous and irremediable medical condition for which a person could receive medical assistance in dying.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Oct. 18, 2023 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-314, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2024 / 5:05 p.m.
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Lianne Rood Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address a question of paramount importance and profound concern to many of my constituents in Lambton—Kent—Middlesex: Will Canada cross the Rubicon and expand access to assisted suicide for otherwise healthy individuals whose mental disorder is the sole underlying medical condition, or do we have enough common sense and moral clarity to stop this radical and dangerous expansion of MAID to mental health cases? The issue at hand stands at the juncture of ethics, medicine and our societal values. This is not merely a policy decision. It is a profound moral question that strikes at the heart of who we are and how we value life and respond to suffering.

The core concern here is the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of determining with certainty that mental disorders are irreversibly incurable. Unlike many physical ailments, the trajectory of mental illness is often unpredictable and can respond to treatment over time. The NDP-Liberal government's push toward expansion, despite substantial opposition from medical professionals and the public, raises serious questions. It reflects a troubling trend of policy-making that seems to prioritize ideological considerations over careful, evidence-based deliberation. How can we, in good conscience, move forward with a policy that many experts in psychiatry and mental health view with significant trepidation?

The opposition from the medical community, particularly from mental health professionals, is not just significant but deeply insightful. The expert panel on MAID and mental illness, the very panel established by the government to study this issue, acknowledged the complexities involved. It noted the difficulty in predicting the long-term prognosis of mental disorders, underscoring the near impossibility of determining with certainty whether a mental disorder is truly incurable.

Leading psychiatrists across Canada have expressed reservations. The Association of Chairs of Psychiatry in Canada, which includes the heads of the psychiatry departments of all 17 medical schools in the country, called for a delay in implementing MAID for patients with mental disorders as the only underlying medical condition. Its concerns centre on the challenges in assessing incurability and differentiating genuine MAID requests from suicidal ideation rooted in treatable mental health conditions.

Surveys conducted within the psychiatric community reflect this opposition. For instance, a significant majority of Manitoba psychiatrists have indicated that Canada is not ready for the implementation of assisted suicide for patients with mental disorder as the sole underlying medical condition. A similar sentiment was echoed in a survey conducted by the Ontario Medical Association, where a two-to-one majority of respondents opposed the availability of MAID for such cases. These results are in line with public opinion, which has consistently shown discomfort with this expansion. In fact, I have heard from hundreds of residents of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex who are opposed to this expansion, and polls such as those conducted by Angus Reid reveal substantial public reservations about MAID for mental illness.

If we ignore experts' warnings and the public sentiment and proceed with this expansion, we risk making irreversible decisions in cases where there might be potential for recovery and improvement with the appropriate treatment. The ethical implications of such a scenario are profound and disturbing. In our examination of this issue, we must not overlook the societal context in which decisions about MAID are being made.

The CEO of Food Banks Mississauga recently issued a stark warning that the inability to afford basic necessities is pushing people towards considering MAID. This is a harrowing indication that, for some, the choice to pursue assisted dying may be influenced more by socio-economic despair rather than by unimaginable physical or mental health conditions. This revelation is deeply troubling. It compels us to question whether we are addressing the root causes of such despair or merely offering a tragic and irreversible solution to what are fundamentally social and economic problems. This is particularly concerning in light of the ongoing mental health crisis that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the government's divisive response.

Additionally, we must also reflect on the alarming reports concerning our veterans. There have been stories of veterans being offered MAID. This raises profound concerns about the support and care that we provide to those who have served our country. These individuals, who have sacrificed so much, deserve better than an expedited path to assisted death. These stories underscore the need for robust mental health support and the dangers of expanding MAID without adequately addressing these needs first.

When the Liberal government has such a cavalier attitude toward assisted suicide, with a one-way slope toward access expansions and safeguard removals, is it any surprise that, according to the latest available numbers, the annual growth rate of MAID between 2021 and 2022 was 31.2%? Between 2016 and the end of 2022, 44,958 people died by MAID. That is more than the number of Canadians who died in military service during World War II.

My point is that Canada's current MAID access may already be the most discretionary in the world. That is before the proposed mental health expansion. We are the only country whose legal system does not see assisted suicide as a last resort. What can we expect to happen to the growth rate if the House enables the “treatment” of mental illness with assisted suicide? We would be past the slippery slope concern if that were to happen. Crossing the Rubicon here would put us closer to free fall.

Why are we debating the radical expansion of assisted suicide? Just four months ago, the hon. member for Abbotsford's bill, Bill C-314, was in the House. Conservatives urged the House not to give up on Canadians living with mental illness. Nevertheless, the government voted against the bill, sticking to its original plan, as per Bill C-7, to expand access to MAID to Canadians who are healthy except for their mental disorder.

If it were not for the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying's tabling, on January 29, 2024, its findings and recommendations, the unprecedented MAID expansion would have been implemented within two months. Thankfully the committee, after extensive consultations and a review of expert testimony, concluded that Canada is not ready for the expansion of MAID to include cases where a mental disorder is the sole underlying medical condition. The report highlights the unresolved issues in accurately assessing the irremediability of mental disorders and the challenges in distinguishing between genuine requests for MAID and those stemming from treatable mental health conditions. The report confirms what common-sense Conservatives have been saying for months: Expanding assisted suicide to those suffering from mental illness would result in the deaths of those who could have gotten better.

That is why, just like last year when the government introduced eleventh-hour legislation to put a temporary one-year pause on expanding assisted suicide to those suffering with mental illness, we are once again here at the eleventh hour. There is no question that there is an urgent need to pass Bill C-62 to delay until 2027 the implementation of MAID in cases where a mental disorder is the sole underlying cause and condition.

As highlighted by the report of the special joint committee and the voices of experts and Canadians alike, a mere delay may not suffice. What is required is a comprehensive re-evaluation of our approach to MAID, particularly in the context of mental health. The issues at stake are not just medical or legal but are deeply rooted in our societal values and the respect we need to afford the dignity of human life, especially in its most vulnerable forms.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2024 / 1:10 p.m.
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Brad Vis Conservative Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-62 which seeks to delay the expansion of medically assisted death to individuals whose sole condition is a mental illness until March 2027.

Yesterday, in anticipation of these remarks, I sent an email to about 10,000 constituents, and I heard back from 95 of them on the subject we are debating today, medical assistance in dying, or MAID. I heard from parents who have lost children, as well as those who have suffered from depression and were able to overcome their illness with treatment.

The majority of respondents agreed with the position I am about to outline, but there were some who did not. Many of those who disagreed with my stance came from Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon's very large and diverse Dutch community. Given its history in, and our connections to, the Netherlands, people in the Dutch community have a deep understanding of this issue. I appreciated hearing their thoughtful comments.

Among those who disagreed, the most common concerns raised were about access and advance requests for those suffering from dementia. Concerns were also raised about the challenges many Canadians face in accessing mental health supports and treatment, which can leave some feeling hopeless. In fact, it nearly brought me to tears, hearing from constituents who asked, “How dare you try to take away the right for me to access MAID when I am suffering from mental illness?” They did not see a pathway out for the circumstances in their life. That is a horrible position to be in.

One thing, however, was unanimous: Our health care system is failing to meet the needs of Canadians suffering from mental health challenges. This must be addressed. I am grateful to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts and concerns in a compassionate and respectful way.

Almost a year ago, I stood before my colleagues in this House and expressed my concerns about the Liberal government's decision to extend medically assisted death to individuals suffering solely from mental illness. I highlighted the stark contradiction between our efforts to promote mental health awareness and services and those to offer death as an option to those struggling with mental health challenges.

Mental health affects every family in our country, and it pains me to see the government contemplating the provision of death as an option to individuals who are at their lowest point. I shared the heartbreaking story of a member of my community of Abbotsford, who received medically assisted death without her daughters being informed, despite her documented mental health condition. Regrettably, such stories are becoming too common under our existing MAID regime.

Retired corporal Christine Gauthier, who represented Canada at the Paralympic Games, testified before the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying that she had tried for five years to get a wheelchair ramp installed in her home through Veterans Affairs Canada. Instead, she was offered MAID by a VAC caseworker. A week before her testimony, the Minister of Veterans Affairs confirmed that at least four other veterans had been offered MAID as well.

Now, after eight years of the Liberal government and with the cost of living soaring, some Canadians are seeking MAID in fear of homelessness. Most recently, a member of my community from the Family Support Institute of BC raised deep concerns about the expansion of MAID. They stated that, even with the current restrictions, our most vulnerable populations are gaining access to MAID without adequate precautions, social services, expertise, professional supports and wraparound social networks to consistently represent their interests and voices.

Despite our repeated calls to protect the most vulnerable, I believe the Liberal government has failed to act responsibly on this point.

Around this time last year, instead of cancelling the expansion of MAID for mental illness, the Liberals introduced last-minute legislation to impose a temporary one-year pause. Now, a year later, I am here again to see that the government wants to add another pause of three years to the mental illness expansion, delaying it until March 2027.

This past fall, the Liberals had an opportunity to get rid of this expansion altogether. In February, my colleague, the hon. member for Abbotsford tabled Bill C-314, which would have cancelled the expansion of MAID to those with mental illness as the sole condition. When the bill came up for a second reading vote in October, most Liberals, along with the Bloc Québécois, defeated it.

The government is seemingly only choosing to delay the expansion again after the significant backlash it has received from mental health experts, doctors and advocates across Canada. It seems that the government wants to recklessly push aside this issue instead of listening to what Canadians and, indeed, our mental health professionals want.

For many years we have heard about the fast expansion of assisted suicide in Europe. Now, Canada has infamously become a global leader with its progressive euthanasia policy. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia, and it took the country over 14 years to reach 4% of the total population's death from assisted suicide. Other countries with similar policies, such as Switzerland and Belgium, have not even reached the 4% mark. Canada's MAID regime has only been around for six years and has outpaced these countries with euthanasia, accounting for 4% of total deaths in 2022. Health Canada reported that 13,241 Canadians received assisted suicide just in the past year. That is more than a 30% increase from 2021 deaths.

Belgium allows euthanasia to children of any age. Most recently, the Netherlands expanded its euthanasia policies to include terminally ill children. The Liberals have met with the largest pro-MAID lobbying group, Dying with Dignity, many times. This group is advocating for assisted suicide to be expanded to mature minors. If the government continues to take us down this slippery slope, will it lead us to a path that expands euthanasia to all children? Youth in this country are already falling through the cracks, with suicide being the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults. How can youth struggling with mental illness even think of having a better future if they become eligible for MAID and it is normalized? The Liberals, in my opinion, are inadvertently creating a culture of death.

Delaying the expansion of MAID for mental illness is not enough. The government must immediately and permanently halt the expansion of MAID to those with mental illness. The reports from the committee echo what Conservatives have been advocating for years, which is that expanding assisted suicide to those suffering from mental illness will lead to the premature death of individuals who could have recovered with proper support and treatment.

The government is taking an ideological stance, and it is not listening to the experts working in the field. Last year, the country's largest psychiatric teaching hospital, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said that it is not ready for this expansion and emphasized the need for more mental health resources.

The chief of the psychiatry department at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Dr. Sonu Gaind, has said that it is irresponsible for us to provide “death to someone who isn't dying before we ensure that they've had access and opportunity for standard and best care to try to help alleviate their suffering.”

We cannot overlook the inherent dignity and value of human life, especially when individuals are at their most vulnerable. It is our duty as lawmakers to prioritize the well-being and protection of everyone in Canada, particularly those facing mental health challenges.

As the member of Parliament for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, I believe in upholding the principles of compassion and support for those struggling with mental illness. Yes, I also acknowledge that we need to do a lot more; efforts to date have not been sufficient, whether in terms of the government response or the societal response.

Delaying the expansion of MAID for mental illness is not the solution; it merely postpones the inevitable reckoning of the profound ethical and moral implications of such legislation and the broader implications we are faced with here today. Those struggling with their mental health deserve support and treatment, not death. We know that recovery is possible when treatments are more readily available.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2024 / 1:10 p.m.
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Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I obviously agree with the member. The dog that ate the government's homework has been fattened up over the last nine years, because it had a lot of homework to eat that the government has not done or pretends not to have done.

However, we had an opportunity to close the door completely with the bill from the member for Abbotsford, Bill C-314. I think it was a grave mistake of the House not to have voted in favour of it. There would have been no expansion of MAID to those with mental illnesses. The House and future Parliaments could have reviewed the situation and redecided on the matter in five, 10, 15 or 20 years. Then, there would be more data and more people looking at how the system had been used, what the demand was like, and whether there had been advances in the psychiatric and mental health services provided to Canadians. If we do not provide the service at the front end, so that a person could choose to get healing and have the ability to live a fulsome life the way they want to live it, then we cannot really be pushing MAID on the other side as the only path available to those who are vulnerable or suffering from mental illness.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2024 / 11:05 a.m.
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Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Madam Speaker, we come here to debate the most serious of issues, and we are faced with one of those issues today.

I want to start by being very up front. I do not think that a pause is appropriate for the expansion of medical assistance in dying to those whose sole underlying medical condition is mental illness. There must be an abolition of the expansion to those who are most vulnerable and to those who are suffering.

We have heard that the Liberal government is pushing this off to avoid political consequences in the next election, and it is shameful. However, it does present an opportunity, because a Conservative government would not allow the expansion of doctor-assisted death to people for whom our country should be offering hope and help.

The concrete solutions that have been put forward by Conservative members have been heard in the House, including by my hon. colleague from Cariboo—Prince George with the 988 suicide prevention hotline, which he shamed the government into taking action on. While it took that shame for the Liberals to act, it does offer some help to those who desperately need it.

The hon. member for Abbotsford spoke just before I did. His Bill C-314 would have scrapped doctor-assisted death for those whose sole underlying medical condition was mental illness, but the government rejected that. With respect to the provinces and territories, which are constitutionally obligated to deliver on health care, the majority of their heads of government have had to call for the government to stop this reckless march forward.

While I will vote in favour of a pause, I cannot abide anyone believing that I am okay with this continuing three years from now.

This debate is following the Liberals' pulling the emergency brake on the reckless expansion of MAID just a year ago. Given the chance, there would be a wide expansion of MAID, and not just to those who are suffering from mental illness and addiction. This expansion of doctor-assisted suicide cannot be carried out safely or justly. It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the irremediability of a mental disorder in individual cases, meaning we cannot say, with the certainty that is required in a matter that truly is life or death, whether a person suffering from mental illness will get better.

In appearing before the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, on which I sat as a vice-chair, Dr. Jitender Sareen, a physician in the department of psychiatry at the University of Manitoba, testified, said:

We strongly recommend an extended pause on expanding MAID to include mental disorders as the sole underlying medical condition in Canada, because we're simply not ready. In our experience, people recover from long periods—“long” meaning decades—of suffering with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and addictions with appropriate evidence-based treatments. We strongly believe that making MAID available for mental disorders will facilitate unnecessary deaths in Canada and negatively impact suicide prevention efforts. The clinical role is to instill hope, not to lead patients toward death.

Dr. Sareen went on to say:

Unlike physical conditions that drive MAID requests, we do not understand the biological basis of mental disorders and addictions, but we know that they can resolve over time. The real discrimination and lack of equity is not providing care for people with mental disorders and addictions.

I could not agree more with the doctor.

We have a moral obligation in our society to ensure that every person is treated with the inherent dignity and value with which they are created, everyone. They do not get that when we offer them death instead of help and hope, treatment and care.

Psychiatrists and even the Prime Minister's so-called expert panel cannot know if someone is going to recover from mental illness, and this under a government where wait times for psychiatric treatment can be over half of a decade. If the government goes ahead with this, people who would have gotten better will not get the chance, because they will have been killed at the hand of the government.

Further, it is difficult for a clinician to distinguish between a rational request for medical assistance in dying where mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition and one motivated by suicidal ideation. On the question of suicidality, Dr. Sareen said:

...there is no clear operational definition differentiating between when someone is asking for MAID and when someone is asking for suicide when they're not dying. Internationally, this is the differentiation. If somebody is dying, then it can be considered MAID. When they're not dying, it is considered suicide.

On the same question, Dr. Tarek Rajji stated, “There is no clear way to separate suicidal ideation or a suicide plan from requests for MAID.”

With the line being blurred between suicidal ideation and so-called rational requests for medical assistance in dying, evidence from jurisdictions that have assisted suicide for mental disorders, both suicides and medically facilitated death go up.

We cannot move forward with this dangerous game that the government is playing, the plan of moving full steam ahead no matter what the cost. The minister said that the Liberals had the moral imperative to move ahead with an assisted suicide regime. Hopelessness and misery, that is their imperative. A moral imperative? It is immoral.

This is the same government that has degraded life in the country to the point where an entire generation of people is giving up hope. Two million Canadians are lined up at food banks a month and once former middle-class families are living in their cars. People are being offered MAID instead of a wheelchair, after serving our country and going to veterans affairs for help. People are being offered MAID at routine doctor appointments. People are seeking MAID because they cannot afford housing. People are seeking MAID because they cannot get the psychiatric care they need. This is blind ideology ahead of evidence. It is death on demand for any reason.

Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, personality disorders and addictions will all become justifications for death under the Liberal government if this plan is allowed to be carried forward. A new generation of addicts will have been created, by normalizing and legalizing opioids that are being peddled to our children. The MAID regime seems like it will become the government's plan for addictions. Rather than offering treatment and a chance to get better to people who are suffering, they are being offered death.

There is hope yet, if we pass this bill, that we could stop the expansion of MAID to people who are suffering. We can make a commitment, as the representatives of Canadians, to deliver on the health, help, hope and treatment that Canadians deserve, that every human person deserves. Dignity, respect, hope and life, that is what we are going to have to vote to protect.

I am proud to stand and vote in support of life.

February 14th, 2024 / 9:20 p.m.
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Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

No. If we were punting it, then we would have voted for MP Fast's bill, which set no date or would have set this off for an indeterminate length of time. What we've said.... I could run through it, but I want to be respectful of the time that you asked the question. I can run through specifically some of the things that I think need to happen.

We need time for our work with the provinces and territories to get to the position where there is system readiness, and that isn't present today.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2024 / 9:15 p.m.
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Jeremy Patzer Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, for a lot of us in the House, this feels like a case of déjà vu. It was pretty much a year ago that we were dealing with the exact same issue, and the government is doing the same thing, making the play to just punt the ball down the field yet again. Of course, it is talking about the issue of expanding assisted suicide to make it available for people suffering from mental illness. However, after the Liberals decided to open the door to that, they took a tiny step back and said, “We should wait for a year to go by before it can really begin.”

At that time, we Conservatives said, during the debate, that there was no possible way for one year to ever be enough time. For one thing, the Liberals rushed to expand MAID without carefully and thoroughly reviewing the concerns that already existed under the original program. That turned out to be another empty promise, and they recklessly pushed ahead with making assisted suicide more widely available. It became clearer than ever that they were not going to make any serious effort to protect vulnerable Canadians from all the harm that this new government decision will inflict.

One year is a very short amount of time, especially when the slow speed of bureaucracy is involved. At least now, the Liberals seem to finally realize that it was ridiculous for them to act as though this could just be delayed for a year and then everything would be fine. That year flew by quickly, and now we are back where we started. This time, they want to postpone it for three years instead of one.

When we hear the Liberals talk about this new bill, it is clear that they still have not learned the more important lesson from their terrible mistake. After the bill before us passes, the sad reality is that the Liberals have not closed the door that they opened a few years ago. They never should have opened it. In fact, it is quite the opposite: They are choosing to leave it open, despite all the red flags and the public outcry. It is the same game they were playing last year, except for one major difference: The Liberal plan to offer MAID for mental illness will come into effect after the next election. They have already indicated that this is what they want to happen eventually, if they get their way. However, they also know that they have pushed things way too far and that they cannot get away with it anymore. Enough is enough.

Canadians do not support the Liberals' out-of-touch agenda. This decision, like so many others, will make it harder for them to win another election. An Angus Reid poll discovered that three in 10 Canadians, fewer than the number who voted for the current government, support expanding MAID to those suffering exclusively with mental illness. Therefore, once again, the government will try to cover up its failure. While it tries to do that, Conservatives proudly stand on the side of common sense for the common people. We will reverse the government's terrible decision to expand assisted suicide. As the official opposition, we have already started to work on it.

Conservatives introduced Bill C-314 to repeal the Liberal plan to offer assisted suicide for mental illness once and for all. However, as expected, last fall, the Liberal government broke ranks with its coalition partner and voted it down. Even though it did not pass, it called the government's bluff. Liberals showed their true colours that day and made it absolutely clear where they stood. They are not interested in doing what it takes to protect the lives of Canadians who struggle with their mental health. The real reason for their delay is to use it as a stalling tactic for a government that is clearly in decline; despite that, we are glad to see that the bill will prevent tragic deaths from occurring before a Conservative government can bring in permanent protection for Canadians. We know that it needs to happen. There have been many troubling stories, which the government apparently chooses to ignore.

Last summer, a woman in Vancouver went to a hospital looking for support. She was experiencing suicidal thoughts and did not feel safe at home. During assessment, a clinician told her that there were not enough hospital beds and that the system was overwhelmed. Then she was asked: “Have you considered MAID?” She felt shocked and told her story, and I will read something she said in the Global News article. It reads: “No matter how much you struggle with mental illness or disability or chronic illness, no one should make a judgment about the value of your life or if it’s worth living.” That should not be a controversial thing to say, but the Prime Minister and his government have brought us to a dark place.

Only a couple of months ago, a 52-year-old grandfather who had cancer was waiting for chemotherapy and treatment. He was told there was a backlog, and the wait was taking longer than it should have. With worsening health complications, he applied for MAID and it went through. As members can imagine, the family was devastated by their experience.

There was also Corporal Christine Gauthier, a veteran and Paralympian, who called Veterans Affairs Canada to get a ramp installed. She was also asked to consider MAID. How did we get to the point where a veteran who served our country was told to consider ending her life instead of receiving the help she was seeking, something as simple as adding a ramp, for her own personal mobility? This is not the only time such a thing happened.

When something like that happens, it creates a situation that makes it more difficult for people to trust government services. When someone has these experiences or hears about them, it erodes their trust. Actually, it destroys their trust. During a personal crisis or a moment of weakness, they cannot help but worry that they will die because they simply spoke with the wrong person at the wrong time. That is a serious problem, and we should be working to fix it instead of making things worse.

We are heading down the wrong path, because the government's approach to this issue sends people a message of despair: that they should give up because their life is not worth living. With respect to that point, I hope everyone here will take heart in the story of Tyler Dunlop from Orillia, Ontario. At 37 years old, he had been homeless for years. He felt suicidal and planned to apply for MAID, but then he received some help in his life. Over time, he had a major shift in his thinking and experienced a spiritual transformation. After changing his mind to no longer seek assisted suicide, he released a new book, called Therefore Choose Life: My Journey from Hopelessness to Hope. We should all be glad that he is still here with us and can tell his story.

I want to share some of what he says in his book. He writes, “Though I had resigned myself to the fact that I'd be dead soon, my conscience—what has been called the voice of God—began to trouble me, the more I thought about MAID.” He goes on, “Around this time, much to my chagrin, I learned that the Liberal Party decided to postpone for one year the expansion of medically assisted death to Canadians with mental illness, so, like it or not, my appointment with death would have to wait.”

If not for the previous postponement, then, there is a good chance that Tyler would not be alive today. What if he had died so young, instead of simply receiving the help he needed and the compassion he was looking for? He has found a renewed sense of purpose and a new life through his Christian faith, thankfully escaping being yet another victim to a culture of death in which some people are considered more worthy of life than others. Now, he is able to share his story and his conviction that government can never replace God as the moral authority over right and wrong.

This is an encouraging story of survival, but there are more people out there who need our support. According to Statistics Canada, 4,500 Canadians die by suicide each year. That is 12 per day. That means 4,000 people struggling with mental disorders. What message will we send to those people who are at risk?

Then, there is the ongoing epidemic of addiction and substance abuse, which can officially be considered mental disorders. Will we allow assisted suicide to expand to the point that addiction makes somebody eligible? Where will it end? Life is precious and something that must be defended, especially when it is vulnerable Canadians who think that the only way out of the situation that they are in is death.

However, we are losing sight of that. The Liberals and their ideological allies blatantly ignored alarm after alarm raised by witnesses and community members at the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, which is why Conservatives on the committee had to publish their dissenting reports. Despite attempts by the expert panel, which the government selected, to block key stakeholders or ignore committee testimony, we are working as hard as we can to represent these voices. Expert after expert and story after story have raised alarms, but the Liberals remain committed to their agenda, no matter what.

Canadians cannot trust them to fix what they have broken, but they can count on Conservatives to continue bringing hope and provide real help for those who are suffering. That is what our country needs right now. Our country needs hope.

Government Business No. 34—Proceedings on Bill C-62Government Orders

February 13th, 2024 / 5:20 p.m.
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Mike Morrice Green Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, tonight, I rise in strong support of Bill C-62, which would delay expanding medical assistance in dying for those in whom mental illness is the sole underlying condition by three years. My reasons for doing so are the same as they were in my speech to Bill C-39, one year ago to this day, at the time when the government was willing to delay by only one year: First of all, this delay aligns with what I have heard from so many folks in my community; second, we know that this is what experts have been calling for, for some time; and third, as Greens, we believe we should spend more time filling in our social safety net before we expand medical assistance in dying.

Today, Greens also believe that we should be rushing this legislation before the March 17 deadline to ensure that MAID is not expanded for mental illness as the sole underlying condition because this is the next best thing to what Bill C-314 would have done. Bill C-314, which was proposed by the member for Abbotsford, would have avoided this expansion for good.

Substantively, in the process we are in right now, this bill has been moving ahead quite quickly to this point. I expect that, as votes follow over the coming days, we will continue to move based on the motion that was approved earlier in the day. This shows that the House of Commons can move quickly when there is an urgent priority to be addressed, as is the case with the March 17 deadline in the existing legislation. Really, what this is about in terms of moving quickly is not that we do not have the legislative tools but that we need the political will to do it.

When I think about this legislation in front of us, outside what I have shared so far in terms of why I am supporting it, why I have historically and why Greens have historically as well, my question is this: Where is the rush to support legislation that would substantively improve the quality of life of Canadians? Other members have reflected on and shared feedback, which I hope they have heard directly from people with disabilities across the country. Where is the rush on ending legislated poverty for people with disabilities?

The fact is that, to this day, 40% of people living in poverty across the country are people with disabilities. While some will talk all about a piece of legislation that was passed in June of last year, the fact is that a person with a disability is no better off today than they were before that legislation was passed. The benefit is not yet funded, and we have not engaged in and figured out negotiations with provinces and territories. It is shameful. It is an embarrassment that, in a country as rich as ours, we are in a place where people with disabilities continue to live in legislated poverty. The House of Commons could choose to act as urgently to end legislated poverty for people with disabilities as it is moving right now to ensure that the March 17 deadline is met.

The House of Commons could also push to actually address one of the core underlying issues here, which is the lack of supports to address mental health. In fact, at the time of the last electoral campaign, the Liberal Party promised a Canada mental health benefit. It was meant to be called the “Canada mental health transfer”. It was a $4.5-billion commitment, and it was not one of several bullet points in a health accord, the way we have now. One of the challenges is that, while we all want our health care to be delivered in a wholesome way, it is more helpful to have funding agreements that are specific, so we can have accountability on them. However, that is not the case when it comes to mental health. Instead, mental health is one of four bullet points in these provincial and federal agreements. As a result, it is up to the provinces, and it is unclear whether there is any accountability whatsoever on how many of the dollars in those agreements will go directly to mental health.

In this year's budget, we could see the government step up, be more clear and say it is going to make sure it directly funds what was supposed to be the Canada mental health transfer. In so doing, it would substantively improve the quality of life of Canadians, of folks in my community who are waiting on unreasonable wait times and lists to get access to a mental health professional.

If we were really serious about moving quickly on another core crisis in this country, we would move far more quickly on addressing the housing crisis. Again, for me, the little bit of hope I have, seeing what is happening right now, is that we know there are parliamentary tools available to do exactly that. The fact is, in my community, we just had a report come out today that continues to make calls with respect to dealing with people living rough, in encampments. In my community, the number of people living unsheltered has tripled in just the last three years.

We should not be in a place where this is happening, but we know why it is the case. Right now, for every one new unit of affordable housing that gets built, we are losing 15 units to the financialization of housing. Housing has increasingly become a commodity for large institutional investors to trade, rather than a place for a person to live.

This means that we continue to see large institutional investors buying up existing affordable housing, renovicting folks and increasing their rents. We wonder why that crisis is also getting worse. I do not think we would be in the place where we are right now if this Parliament, and the government in particular, were to get more serious about addressing the housing crisis.

After 30 years of underinvestment, where are we now? The fact is that we are at the bottom of the G7 when it comes to the social housing stock in this country; 3.5% of our housing is social housing. This means that, even if we were to double social housing, we would only be around the middle of the pack in the G7.

It means something after 30 years of underinvestment in communities across the country. I am thinking about someone I spoke with this past weekend, a nurse, who told me she cannot afford to live in our community as a result of the reality of the cost of housing. It means that, whether someone is a teacher, a nurse or a tradesperson, this is a generation that is looking at housing fundamentally differently than any one before it has. Why is that? In my community, since 2005, the cost of housing has gone up 275%, but wages have only gone up 42%.

Once again, if we were to truly fill in the social safety net and move as quickly on doing that as the government has moved today on meeting this March 17 deadline, we could substantively ensure that we see the funding necessary to address the affordable housing crisis. We could also address financialization, which is the fact that institutional investors have swept in to make the biggest buck possible, as quickly as possible, on the backs of some of the lowest-income people in my community.

Yes, I will be supporting Bill C-62. I think this is a really important opportunity for us all to mark that this Parliament can move quickly when it needs to on real crises that it sees. We have crises of housing, of legislated poverty for people with disabilities and of mental health, which this Parliament and the government should move a whole lot faster on.

Government Business No. 34—Proceedings on Bill C-62Government Orders

February 13th, 2024 / 3:45 p.m.
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Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with many points my hon. colleague made in her speech. It is why I voted against the Senate amendment to Bill C-7 in the previous Parliament. It is why I voted for the member for Abbotsford's bill, Bill C-314. It is why I agree with the recommendation that came out of the special joint committee.

There is more than enough blame to be assigned to the Liberals, but we are dealing with a March 17 deadline. This is a time the House collectively has to stand up and get this bill through because we also have the Senate to deal with.

Why, with that context upon us right now, did the Conservatives vote the way they did this morning when it is imperative that this bill get passed before March 17?

We do not yet know what is actually going to happen in the Senate. We can only really say for certain what is going to happen in the House, but this is a critically important bill to pass before March 17.

Government Business No. 34—Proceedings on Bill C-62Government Orders

February 13th, 2024 / 12:20 p.m.
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Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, it is always a privilege to rise on behalf of the residents of Kelowna—Lake Country.

We are confronted with a decision of profound significance: the proposed delayed expansion of medical assistance in dying to include individuals suffering solely from mental illness. The delay should be supported, and I will note at the same time that as the shadow minister for employment, future workforce development and disability inclusion, I am compelled to express my opposition to the expansion altogether.

I want to draw attention to the recent findings of the report of the committee on MAID presented on January 30, 2024. The committee's report aligns with the long-standing concerns Conservatives have been voicing. It advocates pausing the expansion of assisted suicide to include those afflicted with mental illness. MAID is an irreversible outcome. The expansion, if unchecked, could tragically lead to the loss of lives that might have been saved through treatment and support. This is why we should not even be debating a delay but looking to abandon this piece of legislation.

The Liberals continue to ignore mental health experts, advocates and opposition parties, and have not completely abandoned the concept of MAID for those with the sole underlying condition of mental illness. In 2023, the government introduced eleventh-hour legislation to put a temporary pause on expanding assisted suicide to those suffering with mental illness. This came only after significant backlash from experts across Canada who called on the government to delay the expansion of MAID. The government is not listening to people speaking out and saying they want it abandoned altogether.

If the Liberal government moves ahead with the radical expansion of MAID to include those whose sole underlying condition is mental illness, it could lead to irreversible results. In 2023, the heads of psychiatry at all of Canada’s 17 medical schools called for a delay to the federal government’s MAID legislation that would have expanded eligibility to persons suffering solely from a mental illness. Many stated that it is impossible to determine that an individual’s mental illness will never respond to treatment.

As the shadow minister responsible for persons with disabilities, I have also found widespread opposition to the expansion of MAID to persons with mental illness among advocates for persons with disabilities. More than 50 disability and human rights organizations, including several from my home province of British Columbia, wrote a joint letter to then minister of justice and to federal party leaders in December 2022, to express their total opposition to the MAID expansion. They cited discrimination, lack of supports and concerns for protecting vulnerable people.

Many people have come out again, still opposing the Liberal government's legislation and lack of empathy, adding weight to the argument against the expansion and making it permanent for anyone suffering from mental illness. Disability and human rights organizations are clear that delaying the legislation is simply not good enough; we must completely halt the expansion of MAID for mental illness.

My argument against expansion for MAID for those whose sole underlying condition is mental illness is rooted not only in expert opinion, as I have outlined. As I address the chamber today, I carry with me the voices of residents from Kelowna—Lake Country living with disabilities and mental illness who have reached out to me, having serious concerns about this. A striking example is a letter I received from a young woman in my community who fears the human impacts of this type of legislation. Her journey through the darkness of suicidal thoughts and battle with mental illness is an important reminder of what is at stake. She fears that availability of MAID might have led her down an irreversible path. This is a sobering testament to the potential dangers of this type of law. Her personal story is not just one of struggle but is also a clarion call for our society to be a source of support and hope.

Just recently, a resident of Kelowna shared a distressing experience that deeply resonates with the gravity of our current dilemma. He told me that he sat with a friend who opted for MAID recently. He expressed that if we allow the expansion to persons with the sole underlying condition of mental illness, those people might not always be capable of making such grave decisions, and we risk opening a door to irreversible consequences. This story is a stark reminder of the weighty responsibility we bear. This is a call to action, urging us to rethink and reassess, and to prioritize the well-being and dignity of Canadians in our health care and mental health policies.

When battling mental health issues for years, many people often feel on the brink of giving up. The cost of living is so bad that people cannot even afford to live, but what they need is support and understanding, not an easy exit offered by the government. A policy to expand MAID to those whose sole underlying condition is mental illness is a betrayal.

The commitment to help people was evident in Conservative private member’s bill, Bill C-314, which sought to amend the Criminal Code to provide that a mental illness is not a grievous and irremediable medical condition for which a person could receive medical assistance in dying. The bill was voted down, unfortunately, in October 2023, with 150 MPs voting in favour and 167 against. This shows that the Liberal government just wants to delay the issue until after the next election.

After eight years of the Liberal government, many people are increasingly struggling with a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. Many local residents in Kelowna—Lake Country and Canadians across the country have to deal with the immense stress of not knowing how they will pay to house themselves or put food on the table every month. This is heightened by economic stresses and escalating mental health challenges. At such a time, expanding MAID to include mental illness as the sole condition is not only ill-advised but also literally life-ending.

We have already seen concerning examples of not helping people with mental anguish who reach out, such as Veterans Affairs Canada's confirming that unprompted suggestions of MAID were offered by a Veterans Affairs caseworker to several veterans as a resolution for concerns such as PTSD. In addition, there has been testimony at the human resources committee by disabled persons considering MAID due to lack of living affordability, and reports of food banks being asked by clients for details on applying for MAID. These examples highlight the risk of MAID becoming a misguided solution for individuals in desperate need of compassion and support.

With such a climate of anxiety, mental health challenges and increasing rates of addiction across the country, expanding MAID to include mental illness as the sole underlying condition could be a tragic course. I believe we should be focusing our efforts on improving affordability and quality of life, and on compassionately helping people. It should not be easier to get MAID than to access mental health and addiction supports.

I, alongside my Conservative colleagues, will continue to stand with the many experts, doctors and persons with disabilities who oppose MAID expansion where mental illness is the sole underlying condition. They are expressing inherent risks and concerns related to protecting those who may be struggling and to protecting the most vulnerable. The proposed policy expansion of MAID for those with mental illness as the sole condition sends a troubling message that the government is willing to give up on some of the most vulnerable citizens. It is an admission of defeat, suggesting that we as a society are retreating from our moral obligation to provide comprehensive and compassionate care to those battling mental health challenges.

Instead of passing legislation like my common-sense private member’s bill, Bill C-283, the end the revolving door act, which aims to provide mental health assessments and addiction treatment and recovery in federal penitentiaries, policies like the expansion of MAID to those with mental illness are really an irreversible path. We need to ensure that we support mental health systems and long-term solutions.

As members of Parliament, we should not choose the easy path over the right one. This is not the Canada we aspire to be: a nation that prides itself on compassion and support. Our duty is not just to legislate but also to protect, support and give hope to Canadians, particularly the most vulnerable among us. It is a duty we must uphold with the utmost seriousness and commitment.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedGovernment Business No. 34—Proceedings on Bill C-62Government Orders

February 13th, 2024 / 10:25 a.m.
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Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the previous Parliament, I was the NDP's representative on the medical assistance in dying committee. I do support medical assistance in dying, but it was the most difficult issue I have ever dealt with, and I agree with my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands that it was probably the most difficult issue most of us have ever dealt with in the House. For that reason, I agree with the minister that we have to proceed very cautiously and very deliberately in any expansion to medical assistance in dying.

Today I would rather be talking about removing mental illness as the sole underlying condition, but Parliament dealt with that question with the private member's bill from the member for Abbotsford, Bill C-314, so we cannot do that today. We are placed in the awkward position where the Senate added the provision to the original medical assistance in dying legislation, which I think was very ill-advised.

However, we have no choice at this point, I believe, but to support the closure motion to try to get this done so we can prevent the provision from coming into force, when we know clearly we are not ready and when we know some of us have very clear moral reservations about the expansion.

Government Business No. 34—Proceedings on Bill C-62Government Orders

February 12th, 2024 / 1:05 p.m.
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Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, the member for Cumberland—Colchester had a couple of factual errors in his speech. The NDP voted against Bill C-7's amendment that brought this in. We supported the member for Abbotsford's bill, Bill C-314, and we support the majority report. We have never been for the expansion; let us put that on the record.

We are at a moment in time this week, with an impending deadline, when we can throw blame at the Liberals, and they are well deserving of it, or we can rise to the occasion and be the adults in the room, given that there are only two sitting weeks left before March 17. Which are the Conservatives going to choose? Are they going to be on the side of getting the bill through the House to the Senate in the correct amount of time?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2024 / 6:35 p.m.
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Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be standing in the House today to join debate on Bill C-62. Forgive me if I am feeling a bit of déjà vu right now, because it was precisely one year ago, in February 2023, that the House was in a similar position with the earlier bill, Bill C-39.

That bill, of course, extended the delay of the implementation of the acceptance of mental disorders as a sole underlying medical condition to access MAID. That bill kicked the can down the road by one year. As a result, we find ourselves in a position where we are now approaching the deadline of March 17, 2024.

To go into a bit of detail on what Bill C-62 contains, it is not a very complex bill. It should be clear that the bill itself is not relitigating the issue that was first brought in by Bill C-7. I will get into Bill C-7 in a moment. This bill is seeking to further delay the implementation of MAID for mental disorders as a sole underlying medical condition until March 17, 2027, essentially three years down the road from now.

I also think an important part of the bill is that it inserts a legislative requirement that the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying be reconvened in advance of that change, so that a committee of parliamentarians made up of members of Parliament and senators can review our country's readiness and make a determination in advance of that date.

I have been a member of the special joint committee from the beginning, all the way back in the 43rd Parliament, and, speaking for myself, I am very glad to see that we do have that legislative requirement in Bill C-62 and that, more importantly, the committee is actually being given the time it should have had to study this very complex and sensitive issue in advance of its implementation. That is something we could have been much better served by in previous iterations of this legislation.

I think it is important that we explore a little of the history of how we got to this moment. As a member of this special joint committee, I personally have felt that we have been playing a game of catch-up to the change in law that was made in advance of any serious inquiry into this matter.

Bill C-7, in the 43rd Parliament, was, of course, the Government of Canada's response to the Truchon decision. It specifically created a separate track in the Criminal Code for people whose death was not naturally foreseeable. Previous to that, one had to have a medical condition in which one's natural death was foreseeable, so essentially it was for people who were suffering terminal stage cancer, who were going through a great deal of suffering and so on.

It is important to note, though, that when the government first brought Bill C-7 in, there were already questions at that time, in advance of the legislation, about what we do with people who are suffering from mental illness, who have suffered, in some cases, as my colleague pointed out, for decades, for whom treatments have not worked. What were we to do with that?

In the original version of the legislation, by law, the government was required to have the bill accompanied by a charter statement, but mental disorders were specifically excluded from the original version of Bill C-7. The government provided what I thought at the time was a fairly well-reasoned charter statement. It was understood that by excluding this, one could potentially engage two prominent sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, namely section 7, which is the security of the person, the fact that everyone essentially has the right to make a decision about what happens to their own body, and section 15, the equality clause, that the law has to treat everyone equally. With reference, those two sections may potentially be engaged by an exclusion.

The government identified the following in its charter statement:

First, evidence suggests that screening for decision-making capacity is particularly difficult, and subject to a high degree of error, in relation to persons who suffer from a mental illness serious enough to ground a request for MAID. Second, mental illness is generally less predictable than physical illness in terms of the course the illness will take over time. Finally, recent experience in the few countries that permit MAID for people whose sole medical condition is a mental illness (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) has raised concerns.

That is what the government's original position on Bill C-7 was.

The House passed Bill C-7 and it went off to the Senate. There, for reasons that remain shrouded in mystery to me to this day, the government decided to accept a Senate amendment, essentially at the eleventh hour, which had significant repercussions for the bill. Essentially, the Senate was reversing the government's original position on whether mental disorders qualified for MAID.

The government accepted that Senate amendment. Of course, Bill C-7, because it had been amended, had to come back to the House, and the government managed to cobble enough votes together to get it passed.

Therefore, we, as parliamentarians, were left with a law that had been changed in advance of the hard work being done to properly consult, research and discuss the issue with expert witnesses and with the health systems that have primary responsibility for the oversight of the change in law.

Yes, an expert panel was convened. The special joint committee was convened. Of course, its work was interrupted by the unnecessary calling of an election in the summer of 2021. Some very valuable time was lost there, because, of course, we then had to reconvene in the 44th Parliament, and a considerable amount of time was lost due to that.

However, it is important to realize that everything that has transpired since then has been as a result of that Senate amendment being accepted by the government. Again, I feel, and as a member of the special joint committee I think my feeling has some validity here, that we have been trying to play catch-up ever since that moment.

My time on the special joint committee has been difficult. It is not an easy subject for anyone to sit through, because the opinions of the people with lived experience and those who work in a professional capacity really are on all sides of the spectrum and everywhere in between. It can be quite difficult for a parliamentarian to work their way through that to try and understand the complex legal and medical arguments that exist behind this issue, but it is important.

I would say that, personally, my work on the committee has really been a struggle to find a balance between two concepts that sometimes seem to be in competition with each other. I am a firm believer in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I think it is a very important document in Canadian history, and I believe that we have to respect an individual's right to make decisions over their own body, but that belief system of mine was always struggling with another concept, which is that sometimes society finds itself in a position in which it is necessary for it to step in and protect its most vulnerable members. I think those two themes were echoed, not only for me but for many of the witnesses who appeared before our committee and in the many briefs we received.

I also want to note that our special joint committee has existed twice in this Parliament. We tabled our second report in February last year, in advance of Bill C-39. The committee's mandate at that time was guided by five themes that we had to look at, and mental disorder as the sole underlying medical condition was one of those. Of course, we were reconvened after the passage of Bill C-39, but as my colleague from Montcalm pointed out, our runway was extremely short. It did not do justice to the amount of time that we actually needed and to the extreme complexity of this issue.

Just to give this clarity for people listening, I believe our first meeting as a committee was on October 31, and we had to conduct some committee business, and elect the chairs and vice chairs. We really had only three three-hour meetings with witnesses, so nine hours of testimony. We excluded, by necessity, a lot of people who I would dearly liked to have heard from, namely administrators of our public health system, elected officials of provincial governments and so on.

Because of the short timeline, we did not even have enough time to properly translate all the submissions that were sent to our committee because, of course, before they can be distributed to committee members, they have to be translated into French and English. That is a requirement that honours the fact that we are a bilingual country. We, as committee members, did not even have the opportunity to review important submissions, and those submissions came from people who had lived experience, who were dealing with the situation at home, but they also came from many professionals whose practice is involved in this specific area.

I have taken a position on this. The member for Abbotsford, in the fall, had introduced Bill C-314, and I did vote for that, so my vote on this matter is quite clear. I have been informed by the fact that at our committee, there has been a significant amount of professional discomfort expressed by people who practice medicine in this area, psychiatrists and psychologists. Sure, some of them may be acting in a paternalistic way, but I do not think that can be applied equally to everyone. I think for some of them, we have to review their opinions. We have to take them in the context in which they are given. I think we have to afford them a measure of respect, given the fact that these are their lifelong career choices and, in many cases, we can measure their experiences in decades.

I want to take a little time to read from some of the testimony we received from witnesses. We did hear from Dr. Jitender Sareen from the department of psychiatry at the University of Manitoba, who was there also on behalf of psychiatry departmental chairs at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, McMaster, McGill, Memorial University, the University of Ottawa and Queen's University. His testimony was that they strongly recommended “an extended pause on expanding MAID to include mental disorders...because we're simply not ready.” He was quite emphatic on the point that we are not going to be ready in another year.

Dr. Trudo Lemmens, who is a professor of health law and policy in the faculty of law at the University of Toronto, was there to clarify some constitutional arguments. He was really trying to underline the fact that we have to keep the section 7 and section 15 rights in balance with section 1 and that this issue has not actually been decided by the courts, contrary to what we heard from some witnesses. Previous speakers on tonight's debate have also pointed out that the Truchon decision did not include any reference to mental disorders. That is an important point we have to make.

Dr. Sonu Gaind, who is the chief of the department of psychiatry at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, pointed out that:

MAID is for irremediable medical conditions. These are ones we can predict won't improve. Worldwide evidence shows we cannot predict irremediability in cases of mental illness, meaning that the primary safeguard underpinning MAID is already being bypassed, with evidence showing such predictions are wrong over half the time.

Scientific evidence shows we cannot distinguish suicidality caused by mental illness from motivations leading to psychiatric MAID requests, with overlapping characteristics suggesting there may be no distinction to make.

He also commented on the fact that the curriculum used does not teach assessors to distinguish between suicidality and psychiatric MAID requests, and so on.

We also heard from Dr. Tarek Rajji; he is the chair of the medical advisory committee at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He stated:

CAMH's concern is that the health care system is not ready for March 2024. The clinical guidelines, resources and processes are not in place to assess, determine eligibility for and support or deliver MAID when eligibility is confirmed to people whose sole underlying medical condition is mental illness.

These provide a snapshot of the widespread professional discomfort that exists out there, and I do not think we can discount those voices.

I would agree that there were also a number of professionals on the other side who did feel we were ready, and that is what makes this such an incredibly complex and sensitive subject to try to navigate as a parliamentarian. Again, we as a committee should have been afforded the time and space to really delve into these issues and to greatly expand our witness list to make sure we were in fact ready.

Members will note that our recent committee report had only one recommendation in it. I recognize that the recommendation was a result of the majority of the committee members. There were some dissenting opinions, notably from the senators who were part of the committee. However, the committee did recognize that Canada is not prepared for medical assistance in dying where mental disorder is the sole underlying medical condition, and we did not attach an arbitrary timeline to the recommendation. Our specific call was that MAID should not be made available in Canada until the minister of health and the minister of justice are satisfied, based on recommendations from their respective departments and in consultation with their provincial and territorial counterparts and with indigenous peoples, that it can be safely and adequately provided.

We keep getting ourselves into trouble by setting arbitrary deadlines for ourselves. Setting up an arbitrary timeline is not an adequate replacement for the qualitative work that needs to be done by these departments. I would much prefer that we satisfy the qualitative requirement in the recommendation, where departments, experts and our provincial and territorial colleagues are in fact saying that they are going to be okay with that.

The recommendation and my reference to the provinces and territories is a great segue to the fact that there was also a letter sent to the Minister of Health. It was signed by seven out of 10 provinces and all three territories. The signatures include those of all the ministers of health and ministers responsible for mental health and addictions in those provinces, including Adrian Dix and Jennifer Whiteside from my own province of British Columbia. They quite clearly say:

The current March 17, 2024, deadline does not provide sufficient time to fully and appropriately prepare all provinces and territories across Canada....

We encourage you and [the] federal Justice indefinitely pause the implementation of the expanded MAID eligibility criteria to enable further collaboration between provinces, territories and the federal government.

I will wrap up by saying that this is a very sensitive issue. I do think we should pass Bill C-62 and honour the calls we are hearing from the professions intimately involved in this issue and the calls coming from the provinces and territories. We need to step up to the plate and make sure we have a fully ready system in advance of the changing of any laws.

November 28th, 2023 / 8:10 p.m.
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Chief, Department of Psychiatry, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, As an Individual

Dr. K. Sonu Gaind

They should be, and they were supposed to after Bill C-7. I actually thought that was why the report for 2022 was delayed by several months. It came out a few days after the vote on Bill C-314, and it did not have any different reporting data, compared with the prior reports.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 18th, 2023 / 4:25 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-314 under Private Members' Business.

The House resumed from October 5 consideration of the motion that Bill C-314, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), be read the second time and referred to a committee.