Ottawa set to introduce new assisted dying bill for mental disorders

The Liberal government is expected to introduce a law Thursday to delay the extension of eligibility for medically assisted dying to people whose sole condition is a mental disorder.

Justice Minister David Lametti has said the delay is needed after the federal government heard concerns that Canada’s health-care system might not be prepared for the expansion.

The Liberal government agreed to expand eligibility in its 2021 update to assisted dying law after senators amended the bill to include it, arguing that excluding people with mental illness would violate their rights.

But the bill included a two-year clock to delay the extension, which is set to expire in March unless Parliament passes a new law.

The federal government’s expert panel on medical assistance in dying and mental illness said last May that further delay wasn’t needed.

Lametti has said he expects agreement among parties and senators to pass the bill in the weeks before the clock runs out, though Conservatives have argued that the system shouldn’t expand at all.

Carolyn Bennett, the minister for mental health and addictions, is scheduled to join Lametti at a news conference on Parliament Hill Thursday.

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