MPs, Senators debate requirements for medically assisted dying with mental disorders

By The Canadian Press

An expert told a special joint committee of the House of Commons and Senate that people with mental disorders can suffer for decades, and their distress is equally as valid as someone suffering physical pain.

People suffering solely from mental disorders are due to become eligible for assisted dying in March.

Mental health advocates warn it is harder to predict the outcomes and treatments of mental illnesses, and a wish to die is often a symptom, but an expert panel earlier this year said existing eligibility criteria and safeguards in medically assisted dying legislation would be adequate.

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Both arguments were made today by a handful of witnesses appearing before the committee, which is deliberating what policies to recommend to lawmakers ahead of the March deadline.

A final report from the committee, complete with recommendations on the expansion of medical assisted dying, is expected Oct. 17.

MPs and senators on the committee did not come to any conclusions in an interim report on the matter released in June, but did call for clear guidelines and training to be in place well ahead of next spring.

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