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Psychiatrists say further guidelines are needed before making Canada’s MAID available to those with mental illness

The Association of Chairs of Psychiatry in Canada has called on the government to delay upcoming changes to Canada’s medical assistance in dying (MAID) law.

The group said in a Thursday statement that they were “incredibly concerned” with a change to the law, which is set to be implemented in March. The update to the law would made assisted suicide available to those with mental disorders.

“As a collective organization, we recognize that a lot of work is being done in Canada on this issue,” said Dr. Valerie Taylor, who heads the group, according to the Calgary Herald.

“Further time is required to increase awareness of this change and establish guidelines and standards to which clinicians, patients and the public can turn to for more education and information.”

Dr. Jitender Sareen, the head of the psychiatry department at the University of Manitoba, said that psychiatrists are concerned that such a patient could opt for assisted suicide without having first sought treatment for their ailments.

“If a person wants MAID solely for mental health conditions, we don’t have the clear standards around definitions of who’s eligible. How many assessments and what kinds of assessment would they actually need?” Sareen said.

He added, “There is still controversy around that between providers. Some people believe suicide is impulsive and self-destructive. But that’s not necessarily the case. People can have thoughts about suicide without a mental health condition, an active condition like depression or schizophrenia.”

The office of federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos acknowledged the group’s concerns, but has not yet said if the changes will be delayed, the Herald reported.

“We will continue to listen to the experts, including those at the front lines and those with lived experience, and collaborate with our provincial and territorial counterparts to ensure that a strong framework is in place to guide MAID assessors and providers before MAID becomes available to those for whom mental disorders is the sole underlying condition,” the Health Minister’s office said.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THESPEC.COM

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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