To the editor:
The Liberal government ended 2022 with an announcement that they plan to delay the expansion of medically assisted death to those with mental illness.
Currently, the clause excluding access for patients with mental illness is set to expire on March 17, 2023. After that date, euthanasia providers will legally be allowed to end the lives of patients with mental illness as their sole underlying condition. The government needs to introduce and pass a bill quickly to ensure their promised delay happens.
“ARPA Canada is very encouraged that the Liberal government appears to have finally heard Canadians and is putting a pause on the implementation of the sunset clause which expands euthanasia,” said Mike Schouten, Director of Advocacy for ARPA Canada. “Supporting those with mental illness means offering suicide prevention and supportive care for everyone, never offering suicide assistance.”
Schouten recently presented with his wife, Jennifer, to the Joint Committee of Parliament studying euthanasia. They shared their story of suffering in connection with the death of their son Markus last spring. “Walking alongside a child with cancer has taught us a lot about suffering, and really highlighted the value of and need for supportive care for all Canadians,” said Schouten. “We should never give in to someone’s despair and suicidal desires. Expanding euthanasia to those with mental illness sends the message that we are giving up on them and think their situation is hopeless. That’s not something we should ever tell someone.”
Psychiatrists, psychologists, and many Canadians have called on the government to reconsider their decision to expand euthanasia to those with mental illness. “Euthanasia should never be a solution for mental illness,” said Schouten.
“Those who are struggling need help to live well, not help to die. We should never encourage people to act on their suicidal thoughts, but instead, help them to find hope again. While a delay is a positive development we will be using this time to advocate that persons with mental illness are afforded the full protection of the law,” concluded Schouten.
The Association for Reformed Political Action
Editor's note: ARPA was granted intervenor standing at the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter case in 2016. They have also provided a variety of policy reports, research, and analysis on the topic. In 2020, ARPA launched the Care Not Kill campaign, a national grassroots initiative that educates Canadians on the harms of euthanasia and equips them to engage respectfully on this sensitive topic.