Evelyn Neame

I am strongly against extending MAID for persons whose sole underlying condition is a mental illness. It takes over three months to see a health professional for mental health issues, which is longer than the timeframes for MAID. This means death becomes the first choice for those suffering from mental illness, and recovery is no longer an option. Other countries that have extended MAID to cover mental illness have included strict guidelines that require every possible form of treatment to have been tried first, and provide MAID only as a last resort. Alberta does not have these requirements, and that is unconscionable. Legislation has to make health and healing a priority, and both patients and medical staff need to be held accountable to standards which support wellbeing. In Alberta, effective timely help for mental illness is not yet a reality and because of that, MAID should not be an option either. I know that death can be preferable to navigating a difficult system while depressed, anxious or financially stressed. As it stands, the proposed change in legislation will be the worst possible solution for both the health care system and the patient: there will be no motivation to provide the resources needed to deal with mental illness, and healing will not be an option for patients. Extended timeframes and extensive guidelines need to be implemented to prevent widespread abuse of this next phase of MAID.

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