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CMHA Position Medical Assistance in Dying – Media Release

September 7, 2017

Canadian Mental Health Association says we should assist people to live and thrive before we assist them in dying.

Download the CMHA Position Paper on Medical Assistance in Dying here.

TORONTO, September 7, 2017 – The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has released its position on Bill C-14 on medical assistance in dying (MAiD).

Since Bill C-14 does not explicitly include mental illness in the new eligibility criteria, CMHA has suggested that mental health patients should not be considered eligible for MAiD. As a recovery-based organization, CMHA has announced that the Canadian government should choose to support recovery for mental health patients rather than MAiD, and further invest in services, supports and research regarding mental health.

Bill C-14 mentions that the illness must be irremediable, grievous and unbearable, and the patient should have a medical condition with a “reasonably foreseeable natural death.” For patients who suffer solely from a mental illness, a natural death would not be foreseeable. This is one reason why CMHA believes that psychiatric-MAiD should remain illegal.

In an analysis of existing state policies on psychiatric euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) in Belgium and the Netherlands, CMHA found that these policies led to increased requests for psychiatric-EAS. CMHA suggests that we must be careful to avoid the use of MAiD as a substitute for treatment and supports.

As a recovery-oriented organization, CMHA makes the following recommendations to the Government of Canada:

  • Support recovery by ensuring that recovery-oriented practices that place the patient at the centre of care are implemented within our mental health and addictions system
  • Continue to invest in community mental health and addictions services and supports
  • Develop and fund the implementation of a national suicide prevention strategy
  • Invest in research to better understand and predict the course of illness in the area of mental health and substance abuse

Overall, CMHA’s position on MAiD in Canada, is that people should be assisted to live and thrive before they are assisted in dying.

About the Canadian Mental Health Association:

Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in hundreds of neighbourhoods across every province, CMHA provides advocacy and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive.

Media Contact:

Deb Wise Harris
National Communications and Development Officer
dwiseharris@cmha.ca

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