Provinces concerned about expansion of medical assistance in dying for mental disorders, says Holland

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Health Minister Mark Holland said some of his provincial counterparts are concerned about Canada’s push to expand medical assistance in dying to people with serious mental illnesses.

A parliamentary committee examined whether the health system was ready to expand assisted dying

A man listens to a question from journalists.
Health Minister Mark Holland speaks to the media during the federal Cabinet retreat in Montreal, Monday, January 22, 2024. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press)

Health Minister Mark Holland said some of his provincial counterparts are concerned about Canada’s push to expand medical assistance in dying to people with serious mental illnesses.

Holland made his comments at a Liberal cabinet retreat just weeks before the federal government must decide whether to move forward or delay implementation a second time.

Medical assistance in dying has been legal in Canada since 2016, but people whose only underlying problem is a mental disorder are not currently eligible.

Parliament approved the plan to lift the restriction, but decided to wait until March amid widespread concerns about the possible consequences.

A joint committee of parliamentarians has been studying whether the health system is prepared for the change, and its findings are expected next week.

Holland said it makes sense to wait for their recommendations, but noted the government will then need to take quick action.

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