say no to MAiD(mdsuc)

In a recent Angus-Reid poll, only a minority of Canadians (about 28%) are in favour of expanding MAiD to people whose sole underlying condition is mental illness (MDSUC). A vast majority of Canadians (82 to 93%) said that the mental health system in Canada needs to be drastically improved BEFORE assisted death is offered to people whose sole underlying condition is mental illness (MDSUC). Even 69% of the people who support the expansion agree. And yet the government is set to legalize MDSUC as of March 2024. Do they have time (or do they intend) to improve the current system enough before March, 2024? Obviously not. But even if there was time, a majority of people across the country have doubts about doing it at all. Why would the state be participating in promoting suicide-by-doctor instead of trying to prevent suicides from happening at all?

Couple this important poll with a Senate committee report quietly issued in June, 2023, called Doing What Works: Rethinking the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention. This committee was tasked with reviewing the efficacy of Canada’s 2016 suicide prevention framework, and found that the framework had no appreciable impact upon suicide rates or behaviours in Canada over the intervening years. “The committee heard that only one public health intervention thus far has been identified as having an evidence-based impact on suicide: means restriction.” (pg. 18). For example, not letting struggling people have access to guns, pills, railway tracks, etc.  

What strikes like a gut punch is that Canada has now made access to medical assistance in dying a “constitutionally protected right” and is about to make that “right” available to people whose only condition is a mental health challenge. But here’s the thing. MAiD is the most lethal “means” of all.  Only 7% of people who try and fail to kill themselves go on to complete suicide.  And yet 100% of people who choose doctor-assisted death actually die. I’ve written about this before on this blog.

There is a Bill coming up for a vote in Parliament on Wednesday of this week. I will share with you a note I wrote to my MP, and invite you to copy all or any part of it into a message to your own MP, urging them to support this Bill. Please keep in mind that this issue is non-partisan. There are supporters of this position in every political silo.

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Hello [MP’s name],

I am opposed to so-called Track 2 MAiD generally, but specifically at this time, we are concerned about medical assistance in dying for people whose sole medical condition is a mental illness, slated to be introduced in March of 2024.  

I wanted to be sure that you were aware that Bill C-314, sponsored by MP Ed Fast, is coming up for a vote on Wednesday of this coming week.  Bill C-314 removes mental illness from the assisted death regime.  There is no consensus amongst psychiatrists or mental health professionals that any form of mental illness is “irremediable”.  Nor is the Canadian public comfortable with giving the medical profession the green light to end the lives of people with mental illness.  (If you did not see the latest poll from Angus Reid, you can look at it here:  https://angusreid.org/mental-health-care-access-maid-mental-illness/). 

MDSUC should not be included in this legislation, nor should it ever be unless and until access to quality mental health treatment is easily available to all Canadians who seek it.  Mental health treatment should be a core part of our publicly funded health care system and should be prioritized without delay.  

Meanwhile, I’m hoping that you will be voting for this bill to pass second reading and be referred on to committee.  

Thank you.

[Your name]
[Your postal address to help identify you as a constituent]
[Your contact telephone number]

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If you’ve never written to your MP before, now would be a great time to start. We live in a democracy, so let’s participate in it!

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