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March 21, 2024

The Hon. Mark Holland, MP
Minister of Health
Government of Canada

Dear Minister Holland,

The Council of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has urged me to write to express our continuing concerns over proposals being considered by the government regarding the expansion of MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying). We made a submission to the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying in February 2016 (See: Anglican-Church-of-Canada-to-Special-Joint-Committee-PAD.pdf) and continue to have concerns, particularly about equity of choice for all Canadians.

Our church has not declared either full opposition or full support to MAID. We do acknowledge a limited scope where the possibility for MAID might be chosen by an individual or family, after careful discernment and in accord with their own conscience, in cases of intractable pain and terminal illness. We are however concerned about the proposed expansion of MAID that is being considered.

We want to express our concern particularly about the expansion to minors and cases where the choice is being made in the face of suffering that could be alleviated or treated if adequate supports and healthcare were provided. Media reports have included stories of people feeling forced to choose MAID in the face of poverty and the lack of support for end of life care due to terminal illness. This is unacceptable in Canada.

The current inequities in the provision of healthcare in Canada do not offer full choice to all Canadians. The lack of equitable access to palliative care reduces the choices available to families and patients. We need a national strategy for palliative care that is attentive to current injustices.
The media is also clear about the lack of mental health supports. This lack should not be a reason that someone feels their only choice is death. If we, as a society, offer medical assistance in dying it must be in the context of ensuring choices for living that offer support for a meaningful life.

We urge the government to exercise extreme caution in the expansion of MAID, to provide increased support for mental health care and to expedite a national palliative care strategy.

Yours sincerely,

The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls
Archbishop and Primate

Cc The Hon. Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
The Hon. Dr. Stephen Ellis, Conservative Party Health Critic
The Hon. Don Davies, New Democratic Party Health Critic