Medical Assistance in Dying for Mental Illness: The 2023 Low-Beer Event

In June 2016, the Parliament of Canada passed federal legislation that allows eligible Canadian adults to request medical assistance in dying (MAiD). Once reserved for people whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable, in 2021 the law was expanded to those not at imminent risk of dying, but whose illness, disability, or disease is causing intolerable and enduring suffering.

In December 2022, the Government of Canada announced its intention to introduce legislation to seek an extension of the temporary exclusion of eligibility for persons suffering solely from mental illness. In February 2023, the government extended that temporary exclusion for a period of one year, until March 2024.

MAiD is complex and controversial. Making it available for people living with mental illness adds further challenges, both theoretical and practical. Our event will address the multi-faceted, complicated, and deeply nuanced subject of MAiD for mental illness through different perspectives of mental health practitioners and people living with mental illness. We hope the audience will become better informed and come away with a better understanding of the various viewpoints and possible outcomes. There is no one right answer, so you may not necessarily leave with a clear opinion.

Nantali Indongo, host and producer of CBC The Bridge, moderated the conversation, with the participation of psychiatrists Dr. Sonu Gaind and Dr. Derryck Smith, and Alicia Raimondu and Chris Summerville, both living with mental health challenges.

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