Canada extends delay on legalising euthanasia for mentally ill

Canada extends delay on legalising euthanasia for mentally ill
Canada extends delay on legalising euthanasia for mentally ill

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Nearly 45,000 Canadians have received an assisted death since 2016, according to government figures. — Reuters pic

OTTAWA, Jan 31 — Canada is extending a delay on the an expansion of its euthanasia laws that would make mentally ill patients eligible, saying medical practitioners are still not properly trained on the new regime.

Canada approved doctor-assisted suicide for the terminally ill in 2016. The legislation was due to be expanded in March 2023 to permit mentally ill patients to request euthanasia, but Ottawa delayed its rollout by a year to ensure proper safeguards were in place.

Health Minister Mark Holland, echoing the conclusions of a parliamentary committee report, said this week “the system is, at this time, (still) not ready and more time is required” to set it up.

Holland added yesterday that legislation would be introduced in the coming days that will push back the rollout once more, but would not say by how long.

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“Mental suffering and physical suffering have equivalency. The question here is a state of readiness,” he said. “The important thing here is getting it right and taking the time to do so.”

He said all 13 provinces and territories, which are responsible for health care, have told him “they’re not ready”.

The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying said in its report released Monday that many practitioners remain concerned about issues such as distinguishing requests for euthanasia from suicidality, and “protecting the most vulnerable in our society.”

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It noted that just over 100 out of Canada’s 5,000 psychiatrists — approximately two per cent — have received the necessary training.

Nearly 45,000 Canadians have received an assisted death since 2016, according to government figures.

Only a handful of countries and jurisdictions, mainly in Europe, permit doctor-assisted suicide.

An analysis by the University of Toronto’s Investigative Journalism Bureau and the daily Toronto Star newspaper found that more people have died under Canada’s assisted death regime over the past two years than in any other nation. — AFP

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