Canada moves to extend exclusion of mental illness from assisted death

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Canada’s federal government on Thursday moved to extend by a year its exclusion of people suffering solely from mental illness from the country’s assisted death framework.

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Legislation passed in 2021 temporarily excluded people whose sole underlying condition is a mental illness from accessing assisted death - an exclusion that was to expire on March 17. If the bill being tabled Thursday passes, it will extend that exclusion for a year, until March 17, 2024.

The government says extending the exclusion is necessary to ensure assisted death providers have the information and resources they need and to let the government consider a parliamentary committee report on the topic.

Canada’s assisted dying framework has come under fire from disability advocates who say it has become easier to access assisted death than it is to access resources or supports that would make life more bearable.

People with non-mental disabilities or chronic health conditions that cause them intolerable suffering can still access assisted death if clinicians find them eligible and have the capacity to make that decision.

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