Conservative MP Ed Fast announced he will be tabling a private member’s bill that will reverse the forecasted expansion of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) legislation to include those whose sole condition is a mental illness.

In light of recently renewed talk about assisted suicide laws in Canada, Fast announced the soon-to-be-introduced Bill C-314– the Mental Health Protection Act – on Parliament Hill, flanked by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

“My fear is that the most vulnerable Canadians, those with mental illnesses, will be placed at risk through Canada’s current MAiD regime,” said Fast, MP of Abbotsford in B.C., in an interview with True North. “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.”

Recently, there has been considerable political momentum to permit MAiD for those whose sole condition is a mental illness, though its expansion has been delayed until at least March 17, 2024 with the federal government’s introduction of Bill C-39 in early February. The bill, sponsored by Justice Minister David Lametti, is currently awaiting Senate approval.

“Our trajectory is scary. Canada has some of the most liberal MAiD legislation in the world. Many of the experts, many of the professionals, made clear that they were not properly consulted. There has not been a debate amongst Canadians at large about whether our legislation should be expanded to include more vulnerable people,” said Fast.

Under current legislation, Canadians are eligible for MAiD if they satisfy certain criteria including being over the age of 18, having “a serious and incurable illness” and enduring “intolerable physical or psychological suffering that cannot be alleviated.”

In the news conference, Poilievre highlighted government responsibility “to treat mental health problems rather than ending people’s lives.” The Conservative leader noted that MAiD should never be offered as a solution for those experiencing mental illness because suffering in the moment might only be transient in the end.

“Experts tell us that depression and mental illness can come and go, that people can be suffering and desperate today, but a few months later be thankful that they still have their lives and their families,” he said.

Given that there is limited public backing for expanding access to MAiD, Fast said resources should instead be expended to support those undergoing difficult situations.

“It is very clear, poll after poll, that there is no consensus across Canada to expand MAiD to the mentally ill. In fact, the consensus is against this. Instead of pushing the idea of “dying with dignity,” we should focus our attention on allowing Canadians to live with dignity. We have called upon the government to provide mental health and palliative supports to help those who are most vulnerable.”

Although Fast believes that it’s “difficult to tell whether the bill will pass or not,” he said that members of other parties are now reconsidering whether expanding MAiD is the best way to move forward.