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Lethbridge advocate reacts to MAiD expansion pause for mental illness cases

To Tania Stilson, medical assistance in dying (MAiD) is something that should be available to more Canadians.

Her father John Warren accessed MAiD in January of 2023 after enduring excruciating pain for over 10 years from hepatitis B, which eventually led to peripheral neuropathy.

Stilson called his death compassionate and empowering.

“We focused on the love and not the loss and we made the most of what we could do in that situation.”

Following a joint parliamentary committee’s decision on Monday, the federal government has paused new legislation for MAiD to cover those whose only medical condition is a mental illness.

The Liberals had previously been facing a March 17 deadline.

“We agree with the joint committee’s conclusion that more time is required, and we’ll be in a position in the coming days to talk about how much time we believe is required,” said federal Health Minister Mark Holland.

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Stilson says she’s encouraged that the committee sees physical and mental disorders as similar, but she is also sad about the people who have had to wait.

“Because this has already been delayed. And the families that support those people who had been waiting for this to come into royal assent.”

According to Health Canada, in 2022 there were just over 13,000 people who accessed MAiD in Canada, which accounted for 4.1 per cent of all deaths in the country.

Moving forward, Conservatives say they will still oppose mental illness being used as a part of MAiD criteria.

For now, Stilson says she will continue to advocate for MAiD to be accessible for those who qualify.

“Not everybody’s going to choose MAiD, not everybody’s going to support MAiD, but what’s important is that Canadians know this is a legal choice and that we support that.”

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