Canada’s government has been forced to halt its controversial program to euthanize mentally ill patients after large numbers of doctors have refused to participate in the scheme.
Canadian health officials announced that the extension of its “assisted suicide” program, to people suffering solely from mental illness, has been delayed.
As Slay News has reported, Canada has some of the most liberal euthanasia laws in the world.
In recent years, the government has been increasingly relaxing the laws that were originally meant to give terminally ill people an option for dying.
In recent months, the North American nation has been ramping up efforts to accelerate the euthanasia of mentally ill citizens.
However, while Canada has now offered medically assisted death to terminally and chronically ill people for some time, the plan to extend the program to people with mental illnesses has divided Canadians, the New York Times reported.
Some critics attribute the problem to a lack of adequate psychiatric care in the country.
The government has even been accused of killing people, rather than treating them, as a cost-saving measure for the nation’s socialist health care system.
The controversial policy would allow anyone in Canada with a medical condition to apply for assisted suicide, even if the disease is not terminal.
It makes the law one of the most liberal assisted suicide programs in the world.
Canada introduced medically assisted dying after its Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that requiring people to cope with intolerable suffering infringed on fundamental rights to liberty and security.
The law was expanded in 2021 to include people experiencing “grievous and irremediable” conditions, such as poverty, depression, and other mental health issues.
Over 13,000 Canadians were euthanized as part of the program in 2022, the Daily Mail reported.
In fact, euthanasia accounted for 4% of all Canadian deaths in 2022.
When the program was announced last year, one conservative lawmaker “charged that the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promoting a ‘culture of death.’”
“Have we gone too far and too fast with Canada’s assisted suicide program?” Conservative MP Ed Fast said.
“Will we evolve into a culture of death as the preferred option for those who suffer from mental illness or will we choose life?”
But now, health officials are slow-walking plans to expand the program.
The government laments that it has been forced to pause the program because there are not enough doctors, specifically psychiatrists, in Canada who are willing to euthanize mentally ill people.
The halting of the program was revealed in an announcement made by Health Minister Mark Holland and Justice Minister Arif Virani.
This followed a meeting of the special parliamentary committee looking into the plan, the Times reported.
“The system needs to be ready, and we need to get it right,” Holland told reporters.
“It’s clear from the conversations we’ve had that the system is not ready, and we need more time.”
“Although the curriculum is present, although the guidelines are set, there has not been enough time for people to be trained on them, and provinces and territories are saying their systems are not ready and need more time,” he added.
The officials did not provide a timeline for the changes.
However, the expansion had been previously scheduled to go into effect on March 17.
One group in favor of medical assistance in dying, “Dying with Dignity Canada,” issued a statement in reaction to the news.
The organization is urging the Canadian government to provide clarity on its plan of action.
“For the people across the country who live with treatment-resistant mental disorders who have patiently waited for this change in Canada’s MAID law, Dying With Dignity Canada is disheartened and shares the frustration of the continued exclusion, stigmatization and discrimination based on diagnosis,” the group said.