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Canada outlines progress towards panel recommendations on MAID and Mental Illness

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On May 13, 2022, the final report of the Expert Panel on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) and Mental Illness was tabled in Parliament and released publicly. In the report, the Expert Panel made 19 recommendations laying out a broad set of principles that could structure the practice of MAID for persons with a mental disorder or where concerns may arise related to incurability, irreversibility, capacity, suicidality, and/or the impact of structural vulnerability, regardless of diagnoses.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, are highlighting progress made to address the recommendations of the Expert Panel and to support the safe and consistent approach to MAID delivery across the country.

First, Health Canada is pleased to announce $3.3 million in funding to the Canadian Association of MAID Assessors and Practitioners (CAMAP) to develop and implement a national, fully accredited MAID curriculum that will provide high quality MAID training to health care practitioners across Canada. Through this multiyear project (2021-22 to 2024-25), training modules are being developed to advise and support clinicians in assessing persons who request MAID, including those with mental illness, complex chronic conditions, or who are impacted by structural vulnerability, and the practical application of the MAID legislative framework. These modules will begin to be launched in early 2023.

As well, Health Canada is currently amending the 2018 Regulations for the Monitoring of MAID to align with the recent changes to the Criminal Code (former Bill C-7) and to improve reporting to Canadians. Through this process, we will expand data collection on MAID to provide a better understanding of who is accessing MAID and why, including the collection of data on race, Indigenous identity and disability. This will support transparency, provide insight into how the legislation is working, and maintain public trust in how MAID is accessed and delivered in Canada. The new regulations are expected to come into force on January 1, 2023, resulting in expanded data collection for the year 2023, with findings to be published in mid-2024.

Finally, Budget 2021 provided $2.6 million per year ongoing to ensure MAID is implemented in a consistent and safe manner. In addition to supporting the CAMAP curriculum initiative, this funding will advance research on the delivery of MAID services and facilitate gathering of critical qualitative information, including the greater insight into the circumstances and experiences of people who seek MAID. This information will supplement the federal monitoring system and help to identify any systemic inequalities.

As the Expert Panel members mentioned in their report, their recommendations are the beginning of a process, not the end. More work will be required to ensure that MAID practice—for those suffering from a mental illness, but also more broadly—is implemented in a way that responds to people’s needs and also protects those who may be vulnerable.

To this end, the Government is committed to working with provinces, territories, and key health system partners to support the continued implementation and delivery of Canada’s framework for MAID, including consideration of practice standards, strengthened oversight, and quality assurance, as recommended by the Expert Panel.

Canada also recognizes the importance of meaningful engagement and ongoing dialogue with Indigenous peoples on MAID. We are committed to working with Indigenous partners to identify and support distinctions-based priorities with respect to an engagement process at the federal level.

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