Government Will Seek to Delay MAID Expansion as Quickly as Possible in New Session, Says Justice Minister

The federal government will introduce legislation aimed at delaying the eligibility expansion for medical assistance in dying (MAID) “as quickly as possible,” says Justice Minister David Lametti.

Canada’s laws dictating who can access MAID are currently set to expand on March 17 to include individuals whose only medical conditions are mental illnesses.

However, the Liberal government said in December that it would seek to delay the planned expansion due to concerns that proper safeguards were not yet in place that would prepare the health care system to handle it.

Lametti and Mental Health Minister Carolyn Bennett, who announced the government’s plan to delay the expansion on Dec. 15, did not previously give a timeline for when they would amend the related legislation.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Jan. 26, Lametti did not give any exact dates, but said it would be a top priority for the government heading into Parliament reconvening on Jan. 26.

“We’ll try to get the extension done as quickly as we possibly can and discussions are ongoing,” Lametti said.

Reporters asked Lametti how long the government intends to delay MAID’s eligibility expansion, but he said he “won’t negotiate in public.”

The minister also commented on current federal MAID laws, which allow access for patients who have a serious physical illness, are “in an advanced state of decline that cannot be reversed,” and are experiencing “unbearable suffering.”

Lametti said the government’s current safeguards surrounding MAID are “strong” and “meant to be applied.”

“Those safeguards are meant to be rigorously applied in order to allow people to control their lives and minimize the degree of suffering that they go through.”

Lametti said that the “vast majority” of MAID cases involve individuals who are terminally ill, but he acknowledged there have been a number of cases reported in recent months where the regime has been abused.

“Where there are reports of abuse, those are … obviously a cause for concern,” he said, adding that medical boards and sometimes police and prosecutors should examine them.

“There is a possibility that criminal charges could be laid where those safeguards are not properly applied,” he said.

A parliamentary committee heard last year of “at least eight veterans” who were offered unsolicited assisted suicide by a worker at Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), according to Conservative MP Blake Richards.

The VAC worker allegedly responsible for the unsolicited MAID offers was let go by the department in December.

The federal government’s December announcement saying it plans to delay expanding MAID eligibility came less than two weeks after the Canadian Association of Chairs of Psychiatry released a statement petitioning Ottawa to do just that.

“Further time is required to increase awareness of this change and establish guidelines and standards to which clinicians, patients and the public can turn to for more education and information,” wrote the association, which represents the leading psychiatrists at Canada’s 17 medical schools, on Dec. 1.

Reporting from The Epoch Times.