NDP urges Liberals to tackle soaring prices in the North
New Democrat parliamentarians are urging the federal Liberals to address what they say is corporate greed driving a cost-of-living crisis for northern and Indigenous communities. As record-high prices for food, fuel and heat ripple across the North, Ottawa can lighten the financial load by reforming its Nutrition North subsidy and cutting the GST from home heating, according to northern Manitoba MP Niki Asthon and Nunavut MP Lori Idlout.
OTTAWA — Conservatives are calling on the federal government to delay the expansion of medical assistance in dying to people suffering from mental illnesses next March. © Provided by National Post Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
In a statement Friday, MPs Michael Cooper, Stephen Ellis and Dominique Vien sided with the position taken by the Association of Chairs of Psychiatry in Canada, which includes heads of psychiatry departments of Canada’s 17 medical schools, publicly on Thursday.
“Literal life-or-death legislation deserves thorough review and consultation to ensure the most vulnerable people are protected,” said the Conservative MPs.
Former paralympian tells MPs veterans department offered her assisted death
A paraplegic former member of the Canadian military shocked MPs on Thursday by testifying that she was offered, in writing, the opportunity for a medically assisted death — and that the Department of Veterans Affairs even offered to provide equipment.Retired corporal Christine Gauthier, who competed for Canada at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics and the Invictus Games that same year, spoke before the House of Commons veterans committee and agreed to provide a copy of the letter.
A statement from the office of federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says Canada is committed to implementing MAID for those with a mental disorder by keeping their safety and security at the forefront.
“We will continue to listen to the experts, including those at the front lines and those with lived experience, and collaborate with our provincial and territorial counterparts to ensure that a strong framework is in place to guide MAID assessors and providers before MAID becomes available to those for whom mental disorders is the sole underlying condition.”
The office did not say whether the implementation expected on March 17 would be delayed.
As that date approaches, the opposition is accusing the federal Liberals of doing too little to ensure the mental well-being of Canadians, notably by failing to fund a Canada Mental Health Transfer that would provide support for the mentally ill – as promised in the last election.
NP View: Chinese election interference nothing but a partisan game to Trudeau
In 2015, Justin Trudeau promised the Liberals would make transparency “a fundamental principle across the federal government.” Yet even when it comes to allegations of Chinese election interference — an issue that should unite Canadians across the political spectrum against a common threat to our democracy — the prime minister insists on stonewalling and sowing partisan divisions. At the beginning of November, Global News published a very serious report alleging that the prime minister had been briefed on a “vast campaign of foreign interference, which includes funding a clandestine network of at least 11 federal candidates running in the 2019 election.
“Conservatives are calling for the Liberal government to delay this reckless expansion before it is too late. The well-being of far too many Canadians depends on this,” they said.
Speaking in Vancouver Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not directly address the issue of MAID for people suffering from mental illnesses nor the requests from the Conservatives and the heads of psychiatric departments to delay its implementation after March.
“The issue of medical assistance and dying is a deeply personal one. It is a deeply difficult one for individuals and families to take on at an extraordinarily challenging moment in their lives,” said Trudeau. “And it’s something that we have to ensure is gotten right.”
Trudeau says assisted dying offers to veterans ‘unacceptable’ as cases mount
Trudeau spoke a day after a paraplegic veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces shocked lawmakers by revealing she had been offered medically-assisted death by a VAC employee. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is working to ensure Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) never again offers medical assistance in dying (MAiD) to veterans, as another veteran says a similar experience happened to her as well.
“We will continue to listen to experts, work with partners to make improvements where we need to, to make sure that the regime we have, that is all about defending people’s rights and giving them choices, is also protecting people.”
The issue of MAID has been causing more and more controversy, with Quebec physicians recommending it also be extended to sick infants and former Canadian Forces members with PTSD coming forward to say a caseworker in Veterans Affairs suggested they apply for MAID to end their life .
Trudeau said on Friday that veterans being offered MAID was “absolutely unacceptable” and that the federal government had taken action as soon as it heard about these cases.
“We are changing protocols to ensure what should seem obvious to all of us: that it is not the place of Veterans Affairs Canada, who are there to support those people who stepped up to serve their country, to offer them medical assistance in dying as a matter of course,” he said.
The special parliamentary committee on MAID tabled an interim report on mental disorders in June, in which it presented its concerns about the fast-approaching deadline.
Attendance of man accused of antisemitism at Hill event sparks outcry from MPs, Jewish groups
An all–party event on Parliament Hill this week has been hit by controversy after a number of MPs condemned one of the event's attendees, who has been accused of anti-Jewish sentiments. On Tuesday, the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group hosted a reception to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The event was attended by Nazih Khatatba, editor of a Toronto-based Arabic newspaper. A number of Jewish groups called out MPs for allowing Khatatba to attend, saying he has a history of promoting antisemitism — a claim he denies.
Duclos took note of those concerns in a letter sent in October but said the federal government remained committed to working with partners to improve access to mental health services to Canadians.
Dr. Jitender Sareen, head of the psychiatry department at the University of Manitoba, told The Canadian Press this week many controversial issues were discussed at the group’s annual meeting in October regarding which patients with a mental disorder could be eligible for MAID, seven years after the practice was legalized in Canada for those with a physical ailment.
“If a person wants MAID solely for mental health conditions, we don’t have the clear standards around definitions of who’s eligible. How many assessments and what kinds of assessment would they actually need?” he said.
Sareen also called for training for health providers doing the assessments to begin sooner than its expected rollout next fall. Psychiatrists want clarity on what could be a request for suicide compared with MAID, leaving them to determine a path toward treatment or providing euthanasia, he added.
“There is still controversy around that between providers. Some people believe suicide is impulsive and self-destructive. But that’s not necessarily the case. People can have thoughts about suicide without a mental health condition, an active condition like depression or schizophrenia.”
Patients in rural communities may lack access to mental health care, and those struggling with addiction who have little to no access to harm-reduction services like supervised injection sites could also be left suffering until they try to seek MAID as a way out, said Sareen, who specializes in addiction services.
“We’re in the middle of an opioid epidemic. And we’re in the middle of a mental health pandemic. Post-COVID, wait times for access to treatment are the highest ever,” he said.
“As a group of department heads in the country who are responsible for medical education both for psychiatrists and residents, we’re saying, ‘Look, let’s put things aside as far as whether we agree with this law change or not.’ We’re just concerned we’re not ready for March.”
– With additional reporting by The Canadian Press
Veterans affairs minister says no more assisted dying cases found despite new claims .
Lawrence MacAulay and his deputy said the department could not confirm the claims by retired corporal and Paralympian Christine Gauthier that she was offered MAiD. The minister of veterans affairs says no additional cases of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) being discussed with a veteran have been confirmed by the department, despite a former Paralympian telling lawmakers she was at least the fifth veteran who experienced such an incident.