According to government documents, the province of Québec spent nearly $6 million on residents seeking Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) to end their lives.
A freedom of information request by Patricia Maloney uncovered that general practitioners and medical specialists charged taxpayers $5,880,162 for services in 2022 as part of the program.
Québecers paid $674,102 for consultations lasting 15 minutes and $2,333.692 for supplementary 15-minute consultations. Patients also paid $350,000 for the procedure and additional fees to cover administrative costs, forms, visits and recurring consultations.
According to the 2021 Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) annual report, the number of Canadians accessing the program increased from 2016 to 2021, totalling 31,664 patients, typically above 70.
In March, Conservative MP Ed Fast announced he would table a private member's bill repealing access to MAID for those with mental illness as the sole condition. He said Ottawa should offer them help, not death.
"Those suffering from mental disorders, including depression, deserve mental health, social support, and counselling. They need to find joy and meaning in life," said Fast.
"I am hoping that Bill C-314 will cause Canadians to wake up and raise the alarm bell to the fact that our current liberal government is moving way too forward and way too fast with assisted suicide legislation," he continued.
After assisted suicide became legal in 2016, a Québec court expanded access after judges ruled the "reasonably foreseeable" death clause unconstitutional.
In 2021, Ottawa permitted anyone with "a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability" who is in "an advanced state of irreversible decline" to access MAID — not including the mentally ill.
However, the Senate permitted those with "irremediable" mental illness to access the procedure in a controversial amendment that passed later that year.
Justice Minister David Lametti tabled legislation in 2023 to delay access until March 2024. He lauded the importance of providing the medical community more time to develop adequate guidelines.
Under current legislation, Canadians are eligible for MAID if they satisfy specific criteria, including being over 18, having "a serious and incurable illness," and enduring "intolerable physical or psychological suffering that cannot be alleviated."
Though Canadians support Ottawa's first two versions of the legislation, many expressed concerns about expanding it to mental illness.
According to an Angus Reid poll conducted with Cardus, 61% of Canadians support the current MAID legislation, which permits patients to request treatment under incredibly restrictive circumstances without "foreseeable death."
The poll said 28% did not support any iteration of Canada's MAID law, while 11% remained unsure.
"It is very clear, poll after poll, that there is no consensus across Canada to expand MAID to the mentally ill," said Fast, adding if his bill passed, it would return MAID to its form before the Senate intervened in 2021.
The bill is currently in its second reading in the House of Commons. The expansion to include mental illness as the sole condition for being approved for MAID has been delayed until at least March 17, 2024.