CCA Expert Panel on MAiD

Canadian Council of Academies Expert Panel on Medical Assistance in Dying

Through the Canadian MAiD legislation, Parliament tasked the Ministers of Health and Justice to “initiate one or more independent reviews of issues relating to requests by mature minors for medical assistance in dying, to advance requests and to requests where mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition.”  In December 2016, the Government asked the Canadian Council of Academies to conduct an independent review on these issues.  The Canadian Council of Academies in turn appointed an Expert Panel to conduct the review.  The Expert Panel will conduct an assessment of the evidence available on the three issues and will release the results of its independent review in the Fall 2018.  It will not make recommendations on the policy issues that lie behind the statutory mandate to initiate the review.  The Government is required to report back to Parliament by December 2018.

Mature minors – access to MAiD is restricted to individuals over the age of 18.  The policy issue here is whether mature minors should also have access and, if so, under what conditions.  Mature minors are individuals under the age of majority (18 or 19 depending on the province or territory) who have the capacity to understand and appreciate the consequences of the specific decision in front of them.

Advance requests – access to MAiD is restricted to individuals who have the capacity to give express consent immediately prior to the provision of MAiD.  The policy issue here is whether access to MAiD should be available through requests made by competent individuals in advance of loss of capacity and, if so, under what conditions.

Mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition – individuals whose sole underlying medical condition are not expressly excluded from access to MAiD.  If they meet the eligibility criteria, access is permitted under the legislation.  However, as a consequence of the specific definition of the general eligibility criterion “grievous and irremediable medical condition,” many people with mental illness as the sole underlying medical condition will not be deemed eligible.  Most commonly, they will found to not meet the requirement that their “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable”.  The policy issue here is whether access to MAiD for individuals whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness should be more restrictive (change the law to explicitly exclude them), retain the status quo (leave the law as it is such that they qualify if they meet the current eligibility criteria), or more permissive (change the law so as to allow greater access) and, if becoming more permissive, under what conditions to allow access.

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