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Results: 1 - 15 of 33
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2023-03-06 15:40 [p.11979]
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to stand in this place to present a petition signed by over 14,000 people from across the country.
Due to the fact that counselling therapy and psychotherapy have long been extremely beneficial tools for those seeking mental health supports, and that registered therapists and psychotherapists in Canada are required to charge GST and HST, while other service providers are exempt from charging this tax, the petitioners are calling on the government to remove that unfair GST/HST requirement for all counselling therapists and psychotherapists.
I have a private member's bill, Bill C-218, that would actually do just that.
The signatories of this petition are calling on the government to make these changes in a budgetary bill so that they will not be charged GST.
View Stephen Ellis Profile
View Stephen Ellis Profile
2023-02-13 16:47 [p.11621]
Madam Speaker, I thank you for that astute advice. I really appreciate it.
This article said, “because mental health should be a priority.” That is the article I am quoting, which has the Prime Minister's name. It is important that Canadians understand that.
“But despite the sense of urgency in [the Prime Minister's] remarks last year,” and I have changed that word to satisfy the chamber, because we all know who the Liberal Prime Minister is, “no money has yet materialized for this new Canada mental health transfer”.
I am going to say that again, just to make sure that everybody has heard it. No money has yet materialized, “including an initial $875 million that was supposed to have been spent or budgeted by now, according to the Liberal party’s 2021 election platform.”
“The Liberal platform document included a line-by-line costing of all its election promises, and it outlined a promise to spend $250 million in 2021-22 on the new mental health transfer, and then $625 million in the current 2022-23 fiscal year, with additional amounts over the next three years adding up to $4.5 billion total.”
“None of the promised spending over the last two fiscal years has yet been allocated or spent.”
To me, that is important. Again, I will quote from the Liberal Prime Minister, “because mental health should be a priority.”
Where is the priority of mental health, and why is it not materializing?
We know that my hon. colleague, who spoke just before me, talked incessantly about a three-digit suicide prevention hotline, which was harder than giving birth to a baby elephant to make it happen. It is absolutely shocking to think about how the government wants to talk about being helpful to Canadians and how it has their proverbial backs, etc. I just do not see that. That is absolutely atrocious.
This article goes on to talk about the national director of public policy for the Canadian Mental Health Association, and they pointed out that the “April budget contained no money earmarked for this new transfer.”
“Let’s be clear, for it not to be in Budget 2022, at least with a timeline of ramp up to the $4.5 (billion), you know, it was really concerning to us.” That was stated by the Canadian Mental Health Association.
After eight years, why does the government continue to fail Canadians? That would be a great question to know the answer to.
We also heard in the health committee last week that counsellors and psychotherapists are required to charge GST on their services. We know that, sadly, many Canadians do not have private coverage for those services, but to add insult to injury, to pour salt in a wound, what we are now requiring is for Canadians to pay GST on those services. How does that make any sense?
It goes on to say that, “psychiatrists across the country [are] 'incredibly concerned' about patients needing better access to care, including addiction services”. These are addiction services that the government would tout are a whole other kettle of fish and are quite shocking.
There is still controversy around providing medical assistance in dying for people with mental disorders among providers. Obviously, one of the other things that I think is very important is the fact that the government has not transferred any, zero, nada, zilch, of the $4.5 billion. Think of my riding of Cumberland—Colchester and the difficulties that rural Canadians are suffering.
Because of their geography, rural Canadians are struggling not only to get access to mental health, but also to put gas in their cars to get them to the actual appointments. The punishing carbon tax that the government wants to put on everything in this country is really affecting their ability to have the money to pay the extra GST required for counselling and psychotherapy.
We all know that if people are struggling to put food on the table, and if Canadians have to choose between eating and looking after their mental health, they are likely going to choose eating. This is a sad commentary on life in Canada where it appears that everything is broken. The sad commentary will continue in this country because of the punishing taxes the government wants to continue levying on Canadians, which is making life unaffordable.
We know the crisis in mental health is going to continue. It would appear that approximately one in three Canadians is struggling with their mental health. We know that the government has put out its own projections to say, if we read the report on departmental results, it would expect that 22% of Canadians would not be able to access mental health care, and the actual result is 25% of Canadians cannot access mental health care. This is unacceptable. Zero percent of Canadians should have this issue, and we have a government that thinks 25% is acceptable.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2023-02-13 16:58 [p.11623]
Madam Speaker, it is important to outline what we are talking about here today: Bill C-39. Currently, due to Bill C-7, the Criminal Code explicitly states that, when it comes to MAID, mental illness is not to be considered an illness, disease or disability. However, when Liberals passed Bill C-7 two years ago, it had a sunset clause, and this is an important clarification. That means an important guardrail protecting those with mental illness from being eligible to seek MAID during times of depression or other crisis would expire two years after that bill passed, which means it is set to expire next month.
Now the Liberals, having heard the outcry from across the country, from the medical community and those serving the folks with mental illness, have introduced Bill C-39. This is a last-minute attempt to save face by extending the prohibition on MAID for mental illness for one more year. That is not good enough.
Conservatives have been united in our opposition to expanding the Liberal government’s medical assistance in dying regime to Canadians with the sole underlying condition of mental illness. We do not believe that medical assistance in dying is an acceptable solution to mental illness and psychological suffering. Our health care system should help people find hope when they need to live and not assist in their deaths.
Allowing MAID for people with mental illnesses such as depression blurs the line between suicide assistance and suicide prevention. Experts have been clear that expanding eligibility for medical assistance in dying to Canadians living with mental illness cannot be done safely. It is impossible to determine the irremediability of an individual case of mental illness.
For example, Dr. Sonu Gaind, who is the physician chair of the MAID team at the Humber River Hospital in Toronto, where he is chief of psychiatry, states, “I know that some assessors think they can make those predictions of irremediability in mental illness, and some assessors think they can separate what we consider traditional suicidality from what’s fuelling psychiatric MAID requests. And on both counts they’re wrong. The evidence shows that.”
Andrew Lawton, Canadian columnist and journalist, wrote a harrowing personal article two years ago, stating:
If Bill C-7 were the law of the land a decade ago, I’d probably be dead....
In 2010, I nearly succeeded in committing suicide. My battle with depression was worsening, and I was losing. Miraculously, I pulled through: I count my lack of success in that attempt as my happiest failure, for which I’m grateful to God’s intervention and a team of dedicated healthcare practitioners.
It’s saddening to think that under different circumstances, these practitioners could have been the ones killing me rather than saving me....
Bill C-7 undermines years of attention and billions of dollars of funding to bolster mental illness treatments and supports, including, ironically, suicide prevention and awareness campaigns and programs.
This bill kills hope and reinforces the flawed belief afflicting those with mental illness, that life is not worth living and that one’s circumstances cannot improve.
Every time I have risen to speak on these bills, that has been my emphasis as well: Life is worth living. Every life has dignity and value. We need to be far better as a nation at communicating that to those who need to hear it the most.
Two years ago my friend Lia shared her story with Canadians. She said, “I was 15 when I first tried to kill myself and I attempted suicide seven times in the years that followed...I’m speaking about my mental health struggles because I’m scared that doctors could soon be able to end the lives of people suffering with mental illness - people like me. To be honest, if medically assisted suicide had been available when I was in university, I would have used it to end my suffering as soon as I could.”
This is Lia's call to parliamentarians: “I don’t need someone to tell me how to die, I need someone to tell me to stay.”
The House should be writing laws that instill the value of life and that there is no question this is what we value. Laws need to encourage people to stay rather than seek to end their lives.
Dr. John Maher is an Ontario psychiatrist and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Ethics in Mental Health. Dr. Maher has highlighted that the wait times for mental health treatment in Ontario programs are up to five years long, and that one of his patients recently told him that he would like assisted suicide because he believed that nobody loved him.
Dr. Maher also rejects assisted suicide as a solution for mental illness by stating the following:
You're assisting someone in the completion of their suicide. The doctor is the sanitized gun...I'm not at all disagreeing that there are people who have an irremediable illness. What I defy you or any other person in the universe to prove to me is that it's this person in front of you.
The suicide prevention community has also pointed out the harsh reality for costs. Shawn Krausert, the executive director of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, testified at committee and said the following:
Ending the life of someone with complex mental health problems is simpler and likely much less expensive than offering outstanding ongoing care. This creates a perverse incentive for the health system to encourage the use of MAID at the expense of providing adequate resources to patients, and that outcome is unacceptable.
Most Canadians do not support expanding MAID to those with mental illness as the only underlying condition. Today, a survey was published in which a mere 30% of Canadians support MAID for those who have a mental illness.
I can assure members that, among my constituents, that number is far lower. The vast majority of my constituents want the federal government to focus on helping people live well and to invest in palliative care and suicide prevention instead of assisted suicide.
Some of the petitions I have tabled here over the years were sent to me by constituents who have recognized that suicide is the leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 19. They are specifically calling on the government to protect Canadians struggling with mental illness by facilitating treatment and recovery, not death.
I agree with my constituents, and the majority of Canadians, that the government should withdraw this bill entirely and table a bill that permanently removes the extension and expansion of assisted suicide for mental illness when it is an underlying condition.
I want to end with some words from my friend Lia. She says:
I want to say right now, to whoever might need to hear this: death doesn’t have to be the answer. It takes work. It takes time. It takes others. And it's complicated. But there is hope...I’m sharing my story because I’m not the only one who has more to live for. There are people in your life who do too. As someone who struggles with mental illness, I don’t need someone to tell me how to die. I need someone to tell me to stay.
View Michelle Ferreri Profile
Madam Speaker, as always, it is a true honour and privilege to stand here in the House of Commons to represent my beautiful community of Peterborough—Kawartha.
Today we are debating Bill C-39, an act to amend the Criminal Code in terms of medical assistance in dying, which I will refer to as MAID for the remainder of this speech, and extend the exclusion of persons living with mental illness from being eligible to receive MAID beyond March 17, 2023.
We are going to need to rewind a bit to paint a picture of how disturbing this legislation, conversation and ideology are. In December of 2021, without any consultation, study or discussion, the Senate added an amendment to Bill C-7 to make people with mental illness eligible for MAID. This is gravely concerning and indicative of the Liberal government's recklessness to add such a serious amendment, which targets the most vulnerable, without due diligence of study and consultation with experts.
Instead of recognizing the undemocratic and dangerous way the amendment was added and scrapping the entire thing, which should have been what happened, the Liberals' proposal is simply to extend the deadline with an arbitrary date.
The MAID special joint committee was created after the amendment was added. How backward is that? The committee heard testimony from many experts, including Dr. John Maher, clinical psychiatrist and medical ethicist, who said, “Psychiatrists don't know and can't know who will get better and live decades of good life. Brain diseases are not liver diseases.”
Of course, today I will support this bill, but let us call it what it is, which is window dressing for a much bigger ideological problem. We do not need to extend the timeline of this bill; we need to get rid of making those with mental illness eligible for MAID. We need to call out the Liberals for not providing a dime of their promised $4.5 billion to the Canada mental health transfer. We need to ensure people at home watching know we are working diligently to give them timely access to treatment and recovery when they are willing to get it. That is what we need to be doing.
I urge every member in this House to listen to their constituents and recognize how dangerous the message is that we are sending to those struggling. I encourage every member in this House to support Bill C-314, which was introduced last Friday by my colleague from Abbotsford and would solve this problem instead of prolonging and dragging out an amendment that should never have been put there in the first place.
It is difficult, if not impossible, in the case of mental illness to determine whether someone can recover, get better or get healthy. Therefore, one can appreciate how dangerous a bill like this is.
I am going to read into the record a letter that was recently sent to me.
It reads:
“Dear Michelle Ferreri,
“My name is Kayla. I am going to be sending this letter to several MPs, but as you are the MP presiding over the constituency where I reside, I thought I should send this to you first. I am very troubled by something that is going to be happening very soon in this country, and I hope you will listen to what I have to say.
“Overall, I am a very healthy individual. I have a mental health condition, but it is my sole medical condition. However, I was mortified to discover last month, that medical assistance in dying (MAID for short) will be available to people whose sole health condition is a mental health condition as of March 17, 2023.
“Persons who suffer from mental health conditions suffer horribly. I know that. I have suffered with mine for nearly 12 years. Perhaps the most appalling things of all are that ‘The law no longer requires a person's natural death to be reasonably foreseeable as an eligibility criterion for MAID,’ (Government of Canada, 2021) and ‘There is no obligation for a person or their health care practitioners to inform family members if that person has requested or received MAiD.’ (CAMH, 2022).
“I think you are an intelligent person, Michelle. I think you see this for what it is. As of March 17, 2023, I will be eligible to end my own life on the basis that I have an incurable mental illness. Let me give you a bit more background: I have two university degrees, in biology and environmental science. I have a job that I love and have held since a little while after I graduated. I have never failed to pay taxes, nor have I ever taken extended leave or gone on EI due to my mental illness, no matter how hard it gets. I have family and friends that I love dearly, and they love me too. And yet now my own government has deemed my life not worth living. This just isn't unfair. This is monstrous.
“But it gets worse. What about those people who are in the same boat that I am medically, but are much, much worse off. They cannot pay their taxes because they cannot work. They have a substance addiction. They are veterans with PTSD. They are homeless because they cannot seem to fight off their demons. These are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. To say nothing of the nature of the 'mature minors' (whatever on Earth that means) that will be able to access MAiD in the future if this doesn't stop.
“Make no mistake. This thing that we dress up with a nice name 'MAiD' is euthanasia of our most vulnerable people because they cannot 'contribute to society' like others can. The fact that the government would offer to get them out of the way (read: convince them that they should die) in this way, just because the systems that the government put in place are failing them is an unspeakable evil.
“I hope, Michelle, that you will do everything in your power as an MP, as I will do everything in my power as a citizen, to abolish this law. I understand the federal government is seeking to push back the timing of this law, likely because it has received so much criticism. I understand that it likely wasn't you that made any of the decisions for this law to go ahead. But I also understand that you are in more of a position to do something about it than many other people are. I hope you will respond after reading this letter.
I did talk to Kayla, and it was a heartbreaking conversation. She is living very well, and I would like to give Kayla a round of applause for being so brave as to share that. This letter says everything Canadians need to hear. We need to be sending a message of hope and recovery, not a message that their life does not matter.
I leave members with one final story. Elyse is a young university student and she chatted with me during the Christmas break. She said she needed to tell me something. She said she was so worried about this legislation to extend MAID to those with mental illness. She said that she had struggled with mental illness and knew with certainty that if someone had offered that to her during her times of illness, she would not be here today. She told me that she would not be getting her university degree; would not be in a happy, healthy relationship; and would not know that her life is worth living.
We have a duty in the House to bring hope and create legislation that provides a better life for Canadians. A better life means access to help when they need it. I urge every MP in the House to listen to the experts and Canadians, and not just extend an arbitrary deadline, but drop this dangerous and reckless legislation. To everyone at home watching, including families who are supporting those with mental illness and those who are living with mental illness, we see them. They are worth fighting for, and their lives are worth it.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Mr. Speaker, right before Parliament resumed following the Christmas break, countless Canadians participated in Bell Let's Talk Day. They took the opportunity to talk about mental health, raise awareness, share stories and remind each other that it is good to offer or ask for help whenever it is needed. There are many members of Parliament from all parties who have joined this effort, and it is only fair to assume that they have done so because they sincerely wish to help people.
Every year, after the day comes and goes, it helps us realize that promoting mental health is actually a huge task and it is easier said than done. Over time, there has been some progress with how we approach mental health, but it can sometimes be discouraging to see that we still have to deal with some of the lingering problems or to know how much work there is left for us to do. It puts everything into perspective and shows that the results and decisions we make about an issue are more important than just talking about it.
In that light, Bill C-39, along with the larger issue surrounding it, is a real test for us. It forces us to consider what exactly we mean when we say that we want to promote mental health. Unfortunately, we are looking at a government bill that signals that we are going to take a wrong turn and fail vulnerable people who are suffering with their mental health. In a way, it is good to see Bill C-39 come forward, but it should also be clear that it is not good enough. At the very least, there will be a year before this new change takes effect, but that is nothing but a brief delay of the inevitable instead of reversing a terrible decision.
What is going to happen a year from now? Is the government going to bring another bill like this one forward to delay it another year? Will all the major problems raised by the provinces, professionals, advocacy groups and concerned citizens miraculously get resolved before the year is over? How is that even realistic? Does the government really expect Canadians to believe that?
The timeline is obviously ridiculous. It does not make sense practically and, more importantly, it will not take care of the issue at stake in the first place. There might be different views on assisted suicide for mental illness as the sole condition, but no one on either side of the debate can seriously say that it has been carefully considered in this country, if such a thing were possible. Instead, the whole process has been rushed and incomplete.
If the Liberals truly cared about making the right decision, the new legislation would be quite different. Even on their own terms, they will not be any more ready for the coming change next year than they would be if it was next month. It was only public pressure that made them slow down, but it is not going to stop them entirely. Clearly, they are planning to go ahead with the plan and hoping to get away with it again next spring.
It is highly irresponsible if we take a step back to consider the larger issue. First, I will look at this bill as it has been presented to us. We normally do not have to think too much about the official title of a bill as it comes through Parliament, but in the case of Bill C-39 it does matter, and it might even be fair to say that its name is somewhat misleading. It says that we are amending the Criminal Code related to the medical assistance in dying system, but that is only a technicality. In reality, this bill is not touching the substance of Bill C-7 as it was passed in the last Parliament. All it would do is delay the implementation of Bill C-7 or the aspect of the expansion for one year. That is definitely not a helpful or encouraging response to what Canadians and experts have been telling us since Bill C-7 became law, both inside and outside Parliament.
When Bill C-7 passed in 2021, 91% of Ontario psychiatrists opposed the expansion of euthanasia, but they were ignored. The government has not bothered to listen to critical advice and feedback. Make no mistake, there are ordinary citizens across the country who are horrified when they learn of what is happening here with expanding accessing to MAID for mental illness. I have heard from a lot of people in my own riding who are concerned. They came up to me at hockey rinks. They came up to me at my various town halls that I hosted over the winter break and told me how unimaginable it was for this is to happen in Canada.
There has been the same reaction around the world when people in other countries found out what has happened here in Canada. We stand out compared to other places that offer assisted suicide, and not in a good way. International media coverage shows how Canada's reputation has suffered as a result. It is long past time for the government to get outside of its bubble and hear what Canadians are thinking and feeling. Despite the Minister of Justice trying to claim that our system has strict safeguards, we need to look around and realize that something is not going right.
Canada reported 7,300 deaths in 2020 and 10,000 deaths in 2021. It is interesting that if we compare with another jurisdiction, it gets even more troubling. The state of California started to allow assisted suicide the same year that we did in 2016. The size of its total population is similar to that of Canada, yet it only reported 495 deaths in 2020 and 486 deaths in 2021. The difference in proportion is striking.
People see these numbers and they cannot believe that this government is considering expanding access even further to people with mental illness as a sole condition. They cannot help but wonder if these people are already slipping through the cracks and are caught up in the numbers we have here in Canada.
If we want to understand the background of how we found ourselves in the situation today with Bill C-39, we need to recall what happened with the previous bill. Back then, this Liberal government brought forward a piece of legislation that was a significant expansion from the way MAID was originally set up a few years before. It allowed assisted suicide for conditions where natural death was not reasonably foreseeable.
At the time, we heard overwhelmingly from many advocates, organizations and members from the disability community who were deeply concerned about the government's new direction. They pointed out the flaws and the risks involved for people with disabilities who could find themselves in a vulnerable position, and experience abuse rather than receiving the support and the resources they needed. They also worried about the stigma and the message it could send to the disabled as well as to wider society. It was clear that it would not be unacceptable for anyone, whether they live with a disability or not, to get the impression that these human lives are inferior or not worth living.
Here we are seemingly caught in a similar position once again. It was shocking when the Liberals accepted the last-minute amendment to include mental health as a condition for assisted suicide. Since then, they have had time and opportunity to reconsider, but they refuse to listen and protect the lives of vulnerable Canadians. If government members do not put a stop to the expansion of MAID for mental health, it will be impossible to take them seriously when they try to talk about a mental health crisis.
I want to take a moment to talk about Michael Landsberg, who spoke very passionately about mental health a number of years ago, and I consider this man to be a pioneer and a trailblazer.
Michael Landsberg was the host of Off the Record on TSN. Mr. Landsberg has a foundation called “#SickNotWeak”. A big part of what he talked about 20 years ago, and what he talks about today once again, is the stigma that people with mental illness quite often face and that people with depression face. When we look at the disability community and what we talked about earlier with the stigma around them, we are seeing that happen again for people with mental illness. I think it is important that we look at the stories of people like Michael Landsberg who has spoken so clearly and passionately around making sure that we do not provide harmful stigma for mental illness. When we look at the statistics that I quoted earlier, there is a real and present danger here if we do not address this properly while we have the opportunity.
Across the country there is a lack of mental health support, especially in rural ridings like mine. It is absolutely shameful to offer death as a solution. While Bill C-39 brings a pause in this expansion, it is inappropriate to use it as a selling tactic with the hope that public opinion will shift to their direction in the meantime.
However, a delay is not enough. We need to exclude mental health as an eligible condition for assisted suicide. This government must stop and review what it has done with the system. If not, it only shows that it is untrustworthy. There has been no sign of meaningful reflection about its previous legislation. Because of this, it has failed to reassure Canadians about further changes. We talked about the safeguards earlier; people are wondering if they even exist.
How can we ignore the veterans who are offered MAID instead of mental health support? How can we proceed when we have seen people in poverty and distress offered it against their will? These types of reports are coming far too often, and we cannot say that we had no warning. The predictions of experts and from many of us here on the official opposition have been proven to be correct so far. If this expansion happens in March 2024, how can anyone possibly pretend that these problems cannot get much worse?
Because the Liberals will not do what is necessary, one of my Conservative colleagues has taken the initiative to introduce a bill that will remove eligibility for mental illness. It would give us another chance to prevent this catastrophe, and I hope my colleagues support it.
View Tracy Gray Profile
View Tracy Gray Profile
2023-02-13 20:38 [p.11655]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this evening and speak to Bill C-39. This legislation aims to extend medical assistance in dying to those with the single underlying cause of mental illness for one year. If we do not approve of this legislation, it comes into effect on March 17.
I must begin by expressing my disappointment with the timing of the legislation before us today, with mere days before the House of Commons runs out of time to debate and vote on this, in order for it to go to the Senate to also be debated and voted on prior to March 17. This is the date that medical assistance in dying comes into effect for those with the single underlying cause of mental illness.
As it stands, this eleventh-hour legislation will only create a new arbitrary deadline of March 2024, replacing the present deadline of March 2023. There is no basis in science or evidence for this 12-month delay, only the shuffling of government timetables, although I am grateful that it will not take effect next month if all parliamentarians vote for this bill and it goes through the Senate.
This timetable was originally set, at the government's decision, when it accepted an amendment from the Senate to the original medical assistance in dying legislation, Bill C-7.
Despite the Minister of Justice initially expressing his concern at committee that medical assistance in dying could be done safely for those suffering from mental illness, he accepted that expansion upon amendment from the Senate and then shuttered debate on this issue when Bill C-7 returned to the chamber. He now returns to Parliament, trying to undo a problem that he started.
I will be voting in favour of this legislation, not because I think that the government has gotten this right but because if I do not support it, and if most members in the House do not support this legislation, medical assistance in dying would automatically become available to those suffering solely from mental health issues on March 17.
Abandoning people with mental illness to turn to medical assistance in dying instead is heartbreaking. When the Ontario Medical Association surveyed Ontario psychiatrists in 2021, 91% opposed the expansion of MAID for mental illness. Only 2% supported it.
The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying heard from a range of experts on the topic, clinicians, psychiatrists, and mental health advocates. They all expressed the same concern. Clinically determining that a patient will never be able to recover from a mental health challenge is impossible. It cannot meet end-of-life MAID criteria by any objective standard. Dr. John Maher, a clinical psychologist and medical ethicist, told the committee, “Psychiatrists don't know and can't know who will get better and live decades of good life. Brain diseases are not liver diseases.”
Canadians are rightfully horrified by news reports detailing the increasing prevalence of Canadians seeking MAID for circumstances for which it was never intended. Multiple Canadian military veterans who fought for our country, seeking help from Veterans Affairs, claimed to have been pressured by Veterans Affairs staff to consider medically assisted dying. It was reported that the matter was turned over to the RCMP for investigation and that the Veterans Affairs department was doing an internal review. A food bank manager from Mississauga reported clients asking about assisted suicide not for physical illness reasons.
Despite these stories, the government was undeterred in proceeding with its original March 2023 deadline. Thankfully, Canadians stepped in, phoned, emailed and wrote to every MP in the House. They called for us to think again on this matter and there was pressure put on the government. People were concerned about protecting the most vulnerable, and rightfully so. The legislation before us today is a sign of their efforts.
I was very touched by some of the correspondence from my own residents in Kelowna—Lake Country. I often try to be the voice of my residents in Ottawa.
Judith, in Kelowna, wrote to me with her concerns after hearing about the delay in the planned expansion of MAID for those with mental illness as the single underlying cause. She acknowledged that many people have brought forth many concerns to the government, and she was surprised that the Liberals were now just delaying the expansion.
Not every community has the same mental health services, especially rural areas. I was speaking in person to a young man last week who was movably shaken by the thought of medical assistance in dying being considered to be made available to individuals whose sole underlying condition is mental illness. His deceased mother had struggled with mental illness, and he was extremely angry to hear that the Liberal government had not cancelled outright the option for people to seek MAID under these parameters. Instead, this legislation delays it.
The public outcry and concern about this is really what forced the government to take this first step of MAID delay for people with the single underlying cause of mental illness. There are mental health stories from people I know or have met that I could share in the House, but I am not going to because I would not be able to get through them.
I do not want to give up on people, and the government is giving up on those experiencing mental illness. We must focus on giving people help and hope. We must focus on treatment for mental illness rather than assisted death. Conservatives do not want to give up on people.
As I said earlier, this legislation only creates a new arbitrary deadline. Parliament would be better served in our responsibility to Canadians, particularly vulnerable Canadians who feel lost in their lives, to abandon this reckless expansion of MAID to those with mental illness as the sole underlying condition. We cannot, and should not, give up on persons experiencing mental illness, and we must make it clear and ensure support is there for help and treatment.
Medical assistance in dying cannot be the most accessible solution for individuals with mental illness. Instead of bringing forth changes to expand MAID to persons with mental illness, the Liberals should instead be focusing on proposals to bolster mental health support for Canadians, many of whom are facing challenges in a postpandemic world and the impacts of the last eight years of the Liberal government, which has divided families and neighbours, and of its inflationary policies, which are squeezing peoples livelihoods.
The Liberals have failed to keep their pledge from the snap election in the summer of 2021 for a permanent multi-billion dollar mental health transfer to the provinces and territories, which was to ensure that they have the funding and support needed to expand mental health care. We are in a mental health crisis, yet the Liberal promise appears to have gone to the back of the line.
We have to remember that it was the Conservative member for Cariboo—Prince George who spearheaded a three-digit suicide prevention hotline in Canada, 988. All parliamentarians unanimously supported this motion in the House of Commons. This was over 900 days ago, and it still does not exist.
Now, that is not surprising considering the Liberals gave the task to their catch-all department, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, to implement. What did the Liberals do instead?
They did not bring in legislation to cancel the implementation of MAID for those with the sole underlying condition of mental illness, they just delayed it. Building the mental health support systems Canadians need to live healthy, fulfilling lives will be a top priority for Conservatives in this Parliament and a future Conservative government.
People deserve mental health resources to help them. People deserve hope. Families deserve hope. This is what we will be focused on.
View Kyle Seeback Profile
View Kyle Seeback Profile
2023-02-13 21:08 [p.11659]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to talk about this issue tonight, because for me it is deeply personal. As someone who has suffered with depression and mental health issues at various times in my life, including a severe depressive period for which I was seeking treatment, I think the expansion of medically assisted death to those with mental health conditions is incredibly troubling. The fact that this is where we are, almost a month away from when this would be available to Canadians suffering with mental health issues, is a catastrophic failure of the government to properly deal with this issue. I am so unbelievably disappointed that the Liberals are rushing through legislation now to try to delay the implementation of this because they did not do any of the hard work that was necessary in order to get this right. The problem is that there is so much evidence out there on how they could have gotten it right, yet they chose not to.
I want to talk a bit about an article that was written on December 15, 2022, by Dr. Karandeep Gaind, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and the chair of his hospital's MAID team. If anyone has not done it, they should read this article, because it outlines and summarizes the incredible challenges with this issue and how the government has failed in examining it.
I am going to start here: “[E]vidence shows it is impossible to predict that a mental illness will not improve in any individual.” He goes on to say, “Yet expansion activists mistakenly believe they can make such predictions.” Research, which he cites, “tells us their chance of being right amounts to chance or less, with precision modelling showing only 47 per cent of [irremediable medical condition] predictions end up being correct”.
This means that 47% of the time when a doctor says a person's mental health will not improve, they are wrong. This evidence was readily available to the government at any time, yet we find ourselves having to push through legislation to delay it at the last minute.
He goes on to say this: “[W]hen expanded to those seeking death for mental illness, evidence shows MAID becomes indistinguishable from suicide.” We should remember that this is a psychiatrist talking. He says, “We cannot differentiate those seeking psychiatric euthanasia from suicidal individuals who resume fulfilling lives after being provided suicide prevention, rather than facilitated death.”
Let that sink in for a minute. This is a psychiatrist who teaches at the University of Toronto and is the chair of his hospital's MAID team. These are the things he is saying. He has been saying them for a very long time, and the Liberals still could not get this right.
He then talks about the federally appointed panel:
The government-appointed federal panel...was responsible for providing safeguards, standards and guidelines for how to implement MAID for mental illness. Instead, the panel recommended that no further legislative safeguards be required before providing death for mental illness, and did not provide any specific standards for the length, type or number of treatments that should be tried before providing MAID. Its report even suggested society had made an “ethical choice” that MAID should be provided even if suicide and MAID were the same.
This psychiatrist is summarizing what the government panel found. To me, it is absolutely and truly shocking.
He goes on to say, “I am not a conscientious objector.” There are many who are. There are members in this place who conscientiously object to medically assisted death. I am not one of them. I think it can be appropriate in certain circumstances, and Dr. Gaind is in that group as well. He says, “However it is clear to me that Canada’s planned expansion of MAID to mental illness is based on ignorance—if not outright disregard—of fundamental suicide prevention principles.”
Let that sink in. Again, I go back to who is saying this. This is not me saying this, not a parliamentarian saying it who does not have experience in mental health. This is a psychiatrist at the University of Toronto and the chair of the hospital's MAID team. He finishes, “It appears to ignore what drives the most marginalized people to consider death as an alternative to life suffering.”
This again is the incredible challenge. We have heard all the reports about people thinking they should now get MAID as a result of mental health issues. I cannot believe that we let it get this far, that we do not have rules in place and that we have to go forward and put this off.
The government had so much time to get this right and it could not. It did not even come close. This to me is just a symptom of how the government does things without thinking them through, without thinking of the consequences. What is going to happen if we do not get this bill passed by March 17? Then it is open and available. How is this legislation just being introduced now to push it back? The government knew ages ago that it was not going to meet this deadline. It knew ages ago that it did not have safeguards in place, and yet here we are now. I find that breathtaking.
The doctor's final comments in the article, I think, we should all listen to. They read:
Postponing the March 2023 expansion of euthanasia for mental illness is the only responsible course. Canadians and mental health organizations recognized this and called for it, with the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and over 200 individual psychiatrists so far signing a petition to this effect, and the academic chairs of the departments of psychiatry across Canada joining this call for delay.
That article was written in December and here we are now dealing with this legislation. It is a catastrophic failure by the government and the minister responsible for this. Let us hope it is not a catastrophic failure for Canadians.
Someone who is dealing with a mental health issue needs help. Let us be clear. I went through a period in my life where I did not want to continue to live. It was a deeply dark, terrible period of time.
The government is moving forward with this legislation with absolutely no safeguards in place to protect people who are in that terrible place. Eminent psychiatrists have been banging the clarion bell on this for ages and the government did nothing until the last minute. Now it is saying we have to put it off.
I can tell colleagues that I have absolutely no faith that the government is going to get it right. As the quotation I cited in the article stated, the panel got it wrong. I do not know if there has been any ministerial direction to make sure it gets it right. What I can say is this. On this side of the House, we are going to stand up for people with mental health issues. We are going to protect them and not let the government just throw them under the bus.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2023-01-30 18:49 [p.11004]
Mr. Speaker, I know Groundhog Day is not until Thursday, but it sure feels like it, because I keep having to drag the government in here at the end of the day to answer to Canadians on why it has not delivered on its mental health transfer.
We have a system that is overburdened and stretched to the max. I just had the leader of the NDP in my riding. We went to a round table on seniors' health. We listened to the stresses on the system in long-term care, in the health care system, but we also heard from physicians, and members know that in their ridings physicians are saying that they do not have the supports when it comes to mental health and when it comes to social workers and psychotherapy, and this is causing a huge unnecessary burden on the health care system. It is backing up our ERs. We heard that directly from physicians.
I met with the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation, the Hupacasath and the Sechelt. At Sechelt they hosted a meeting, and they said their top priority is ensuring there are mental health supports.
The New Democrats will kick and scream and drag the government back here every night, if we have to, until the transfer is delivered. We will use every tool in the tool box. The Liberals promised $4.5 billion of new money over five years to help support those with mental health issues.
I not only heard from first nations, but I actually went into my own doctor's office and asked my doctor how it is impacting him in serving his clients and the overall community. He said that over 50% of the people who were coming to his office were having a health-related issue related to either mental health or substance use. He said that he cannot be a social worker. He said that people are leaving the field. He said nurses are leaving the field.
Right now, in a health crisis, we need to do everything we can to take the pressure off those who need supports that are physical-related and ensure those who have mental health issues are getting supports that are mental health-related. Meanwhile, people are dying. I got a message from a good friend of mine who lost her son this week. She said we need treatment centres, not more police. We need investments in mental health supports. The government keeps promising it is going to deliver that.
There was a joint report by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. They found that almost 35% of residents reported moderate to severe mental health concerns. Fewer than one in three people experiencing mental health issues were accessing services, and they said that financial constraints were a big part of that. As we know, we are potentially heading into a recession. People are struggling. Mental health issues are getting worse.
Establishing the Canada mental health transfer was a key election promise. It was the second thing on the list in the mandate letter for the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. The government promised that $875 million would be transferred by 2023. There has not been a dollar of new money.
What are we going to hear from the government members? They are going to pat themselves on the back from old money. They are not going to have delivered on the new money they promised. It has not happened. It is costing lives. People are dying, and it is unnecessary. The government needs to do the right thing. The Liberals are wastefully spending money instead of prioritizing the health of Canadians, taking pressure off our health care system and investing in mental health when Canadians need it the most.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2022-10-20 21:09 [p.8664]
Madam Chair, one of the things I was surprised about, and I was approached by a constituent about this, was that counsellors, therapists and psychotherapists have to charge GST and taxes on their services, whereas other mental health professionals do not. This is actually a classification from CRA. It is a very simple change the government can make.
It is a drop in the bucket of what is necessary, but it would help those who are struggling to pay for some of these services. Until they are made far more available and without the idea of having to pay for them, which is also my goal, it is something that the government could do very quickly.
I have a private member's bill on that. It is Bill C-218. Would the member be open to supporting that bill?
View Arnold Viersen Profile
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2022-06-14 10:20 [p.6643]
Mr. Speaker, the next petition is from Canadians from across the country who are concerned about the changes to the law around conversion therapy. They are calling on the government to define the definition in a way that does not ban talk therapy. They are calling on the government to ensure that parents and clergy are able to have discussions with children around their sexuality. They call on the government to ban coercive integrating practices that are intended to change a person's sexual orientation or identity, but to amend the current law so that conversion therapy does not ban discussions that happen between parents and their children.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
2022-06-10 13:50 [p.6553]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague, the member for Etobicoke North, and thanking her for choosing such an important and timely subject.
In recent years, many of my constituents have contacted me, as their MP, about this issue. This motion gives me an opportunity to speak to the issue and discuss it here in the House of Commons.
I was here for the first hour of debate. I listened to all the speeches and I heard a number of criticisms about the motion. Most of the criticisms were about things that were supposedly missing. I feel those criticisms are unjustified and fail to address the nub of the issue.
It is true that, if I am not mistaken, the motion does not mention the Canada pension plan, the Quebec pension plan, old age security or the guaranteed income supplement, but that is not what we are talking about today. We are not talking about those aspects of the support system for Canadian retirees.
I would like to take a moment to speak about the nature of our support system for retirees. It is a mixed system, a system that reflects our ways of doing things and our lifestyle here in Canada. It is reflected in our federative political system, which is a nuanced, multi-dimensional system.
For example, we have a mixed economy that is based on free markets. However, the government does intervene for various reasons. We therefore have a mixed system, which consequently is perhaps more stable and efficient than other economies around the world. In particular, I think that it is more efficient and fairer than the American economic system.
We also have a health system that is somewhat mixed. It is obviously a public health system. However, there is some space on the periphery for private insurance plans to cover the cost of medications, for example, although we are moving towards a national pharmacare system. It is therefore a system that allows for private insurers to cover certain services such as osteopathy, eye exams, psychotherapy and so forth. Once again, it is a multi-dimensional system. In Canada, we have the capacity to find a middle ground. That is Canada's brand, and it makes Canada a force in several respects.
As a complement to public pensions, Canadians also have access to private savings vehicles supported by the tax system. The tax policies of both levels of government make it possible to invest in a registered retirement savings plan, or RRSP, and in a registered retirement income fund, or RRIF. Some of these vehicles enable individuals to manage their own retirement investments.
Even those who do not keep an eye on their portfolio every day—and I think that is most people—still have some knowledge of what is happening in the financial markets. If someone has an RRSP or a RRIF, they obviously keep an eye on the financial markets, even if they are not an expert and they do not work on managing their portfolio every day. In short, those who have these financial instruments are in a position to make fairly informed decisions that will help them maximize the value of their assets to the extent possible.
Many people have written to me to share their concerns about how the current rules, which require them to withdraw a minimum percentage of their portfolio after the age of 71, will leave them less well off financially in the long-term. That means they will not necessarily have the support they hoped to have when they are older and further into their retirement.
Many have told me that it makes no sense to be required to withdraw a minimum amount from their funds and that they would rather not do that right now because the financial markets are down. Taking out their money is worse than not being able to take advantage of a situation where they might be able to benefit from a capital gain. Worse yet, they are being forced to take a loss. Many of my constituents have written in to urge us to suspend this requirement to withdraw a percentage of the funds in their portfolio.
A few years ago, such a request was not justified because the financial markets were more or less stable. However, I believe that everyone in the House can see that the economy has been more volatile these past few years than it was in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. It is a fact we can see with our own eyes if we watch the news or follow the markets a bit.
Stephen Poloz, former governor of the Bank of Canada, just published a book entitled The Next Age of Uncertainty: How the World Can Adapt to a Riskier Future. It is only available in English for now.
Even the former governor of the Bank of Canada has said that the world is more unstable than it once was and that, as a result, financial markets will show a much wider variation or spread in the value of investments. This is a reality we need to come to grips with.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, this may be the time to really look at this issue again. I know that in the past, governments have made adjustments to the amounts and percentages that have to be taken out of one's portfolio. However, I believe that the current economic and financial situation calls for a review of this issue to see whether we need to make changes that would allow pensioners to retain the value of their assets for much longer than if everything stayed the same.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2021-12-16 10:06 [p.1227]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-218, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act ( psychotherapy services).
She said: Mr. Speaker, today I also have the honour to introduce a private member's bill that would amend the Excise Tax Act to exempt psychotherapeutic services delivered by psychotherapists from the goods and services tax.
I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Courtenay—Alberni who is the NDP critic for mental health, for seconding this bill today. I would also like to thank Stephanie Woo Dearden, a registered psychotherapist from the city of London, who asked me to take action on this issue.
This bill works to ensure that psychotherapists are treated the same as their fellow practitioners in other health care fields are, who do the same kind of work and who are exempt from the excise tax. I urge the government to get behind this very simple but very necessary bill to rectify this blatant tax inequality. The government says that Canadians' mental health is a priority, and this is an opportunity to do something good for Canadians' mental health and for tax fairness in Canada as well.
We all know the impact COVID-19 has had on people's mental health. It was a crisis before the pandemic, and we are certainly seeing the consequences on people now. This is a small but good first step to help people. I am grateful to the people who are working on this issue and who have been calling for tax fairness for psychotherapists for a very long time.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, the next petition is from people who are concerned about the definition used for conversion therapy in a number of conversion therapy bills. Petitioners want to see efforts made to fix the definition. They support efforts to ban conversion therapy, but they want to clarify what is being referred to in the definition of “conversion therapy”.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, the next petition I am tabling highlights concerns about the definition used in the government's conversion therapy legislation.
The petitioners support efforts to ban conversion therapy. They want to see the government fix the definition to provide greater clarity in the law.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
Rideau Hall
December 8, 2021
Mr. Speaker,
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Mary May Simon, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 8th day of December, 2021, at 10:49 a.m.
Yours sincerely,
Ian McCowan
Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor
The schedule indicates the bill assented to was Bill C‑4, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy).
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