Federal government calls for another pause in planned expansion of medical assistance in dying

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The federal government has announced it is seeking to once again suspend medical assistance in dying (MAID) provisions that would cover people suffering solely from mental illnesses.

This is the second time the government has sought to delay the expansion of MAID since the Quebec Superior Court invalidated the government’s initial 2016 MAID law because it was limited to people whose death was “reasonably foreseeable”.

Health Minister Mark Holland and Justice Minister Arif Virani made the announcement in the House of Commons on Monday. Holland said Canada’s health care system is still “not ready” for MAID expansion.

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

Holland did not say how long the government would seek to delay expansion. He said the timetable would be clarified once the government presented a new bill.

A new law passed in 2021 delayed the extension of medical assistance in dying to people with mental illness by two years. This deadline was later pushed back to March 17 of this year.

The government will have to adopt new legislation to extend the deadline again. Holland said the bill would be introduced “imminently” and Virani said he intended to pass it before the deadline.

“We understand the need to act quickly due to the date currently set by legislation,” Virani said. “We intend to meet this deadline.”

More soon …

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