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In-Your-Service

MP worried about expanding MAID program for only mental illness

MAID expansion fears

There are numerous federal government bills and policies expected to either come before Parliament in 2024 or be fully implemented.

One is the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) eligibility for persons suffering solely from a mental illness. Last year, Parliament delayed this MAID expansion by a year, to March 17, 2024.

In 2023, the heads of psychiatry at all of Canada’s 17 medical schools called for the delay to the federal expanded eligibility. Many stated it is impossible to determine an individual’s mental illness will never respond to treatment.

As the (Conservative critic for) Persons with Disabilities, I have also found widespread opposition to the expansion of MAID to persons with mental illness among advocates for persons with disabilities.

More than 50 disability organizations, including several in B.C., wrote a joint letter to the justice minister in December 2022 to express their opposition to the expansion, citing discrimination, lack of supports, and concerns for protecting vulnerable people.

There are also many Kelowna-Lake Country residents living with disabilities who have reached out to me, expressing serious concerns about this.

The government supported only a one-year delay from March 2023 to March 2024, while the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying consulted further on the matter.

The prime minister and the newly appointed justice minister have not answered whether they believe MAID should be offered to those for whom mental illness is the sole underlying condition.

Canada’s Conservatives supported a Conservative Private Members Bill, C-314, which sought to amend the Criminal Code to provide that a mental disorder is not a grievous and irremediable medical condition for which a person could receive medical assistance in dying. That bill was voted down in October 2023, with 150 MPs voting in favour and 167 against.

Many people are increasingly struggling with a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. Many local residents and Canadians across the country have to deal with the immense stress of not knowing how they will pay to house themselves or put food on the table every month. With such a climate of anxiety, mental health challenges and increasing rates of addiction, expanding MAID to include mental illness as the sole underlying condition could be a tragic course.

We’ve already seen concerning examples, such as Veteran’s Affairs Canada confirming unprompted suggestions of MAID were offered by a caseworker to several veterans as a resolution for concerns such as PTSD, testimony by disabled persons considering MAID at the Human Resources committee due to lack of living affordability and reports of food banks being asked by clients for details on applying for MAID.

I believe we should focus our efforts on improving affordability and quality of life, and compassionately helping people where it should not be easier to get MAID than to access mental health and addiction supports.

I, along with my Conservative colleagues, will continue to stand with the many experts, doctors and those serving disabled persons who oppose MAID expansion, where mental illness is the sole underlying condition, who are expressing inherent risks and concerns about protecting those who may be struggling and expressing concerns about protecting the most vulnerable.

If you need assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Tracy Gray, Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is her party's critic for Employment, Future Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

She is a member of the national caucus committee’s credit union caucus, wine caucus, and aviation caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, sat on the Passenger Transportation Board from 2010-2012 and was elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the boards of the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library and was chairwoman of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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