The country's euthanasia program, known as Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID), contains provisions for its expansion to eventually allow people in Canada with mental illness to petition the government to be allowed to commit suicide.
This proposed expansion has come under fire, prompting the government to delay its expansion to March 17, 2024 – with the delay supposedly providing the Liberal Party-led government with more time to "prepare" for the law's expansion.
Long before the deadline approaches, conservative members of parliament (MPs) and advocacy organizations are already hard at work to make sure that MAID's expansion is blocked and the legal euthanasia bill itself is, eventually, overturned.
In the Canadian House of Commons, the country's lower house, Conservative MP Ed Fast recently submitted Bill C-314, "An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)," to prevent MAID's expansion to include the mentally ill.
In statements made in parliament during Bill C-314's second reading on May 17, Fast warned that the Canadian government is expanding MAID "to include more and more defenseless Canadians, most particularly those living with disabilities."
"What is equally disturbing is that the Liberal government has also signaled its intention to extend the so-called 'treatment option' to minor children," warned Fast. "That would arguably make Canada the most expansive, most liberal assisted suicide jurisdiction in the world."
"Canadians have a right to conclude that the Liberal government has gone too far and too fast in its zeal to implement and expand the scope of assisted death," he added. "My bill will reverse this momentum and repeal the government's decision to extend MAID to the mentally ill. It will put a full stop to the expansion of assisted suicide to mentally disordered persons."
Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) warned that the biggest issue with expanding MAID to include the mentally ill is that the people with mental health concerns do not have "the same level of capacity to make a decision about themselves or the mental illness."
Further, MAID does not answer how people with mental health problems have an "irremediable disease," which is supposedly the main metric for allowing euthanasia. "How could you say that someone with a mental illness has an irremediable mental condition?" asked Schadenberg.
The effects of Canada's assisted suicide program are already being keenly felt. According to Schadenberg's organization, there were at least 13,500 cases of medically assisted suicide in Canada in the 2022 fiscal year, which lasted from April 2022 to March 2023. (Related: Survey: Nearly 3 in 10 Canadians believe the poor and homeless should be eligible for assisted suicide.)
This is up from the 10,064 recorded instances of MAID-supported euthanasia in the 2021 fiscal year, which means that the number of euthanasia cases in Canada increased by 34 percent within one year.
The EPC's data comes from projections based on data already published by four provinces – Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
In Ontario, MAID cases surged by 27 percent from 3,1021 in 2021 to 3,934 in 2022. Alberta had a 41 percent year-on-year jump from 594 to 836 cases. Quebec had a shocking 51 percent increase from 2,427 cases to 3,663 cases.
The EPC warned that state-sanctioned death has now become the third top cause of mortality in Quebec, after cancer and heart disease.
Schadenberg warned that euthanasia rates in the country are "skyrocketing" because the procedure has become very normalized by a "heavy promotion of MAID in our medical system."
"Every major healthcare institution has a MAID team, which will literally approach everyone who may qualify for MAID and ask them if they want to die," said Schadenberg. "If you're going to pay people to be on a MAID team, they will sell what they are offering."
Watch this episode of "Shots Fired with DeAnna Lorraine" discussing the potential expansion of Canada's MAID program to allow even children to obtain assisted suicide services.