Parliamentary committee releases report on mental health and assisted dying

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A special joint committee of the House of Commons and Senate released an interim report on medically assisted dying today that addresses provisions around people with mental disorders.

The report does not provide recommendations, "given the need to carry out additional work on this theme," but instead summarizes the testimony the committee heard during two May hearings.

It does call for "standards of practice, clear guidelines, adequate training for practitioners, comprehensive patient assessments and meaningful oversight" for such cases to be implemented well ahead of March 2023, when people suffering solely from mental disorders are due to become eligible for assisted dying.

The committee's review was mandated in legislation passed in March 2021 that updated the framework around medical assistance in dying that was established in 2016.

That bill started a two-year clock delaying access to assisted dying for people suffering solely from mental disorders and included requirements that the issue be studied on a strict timeline — though the special committee's work has faced delays, due in part to last fall's federal election.

Its final report and recommendations, which will also address other areas including access for mature minors, advance requests, the state of palliative care in Canada and the protection of people with disabilities, is not expected until an Oct. 17 deadline.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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