On 31 October 2022, a Facebook user made a publication about the law of euthanasia in Canada. According to the publication, Canada legalises child euthanasia without parental consent. This information contains a false claim and is not true.
Euthanasia, when a doctor provides medical assistance in dying based on a patient’s request, has been legal in Canada since 2016 in line with the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) programme. In accordance with a legislative act adopted about the MAID programme in Canada, the programme is available only for those who are mentally competent and over the age of 18 who suffer from an incurable disease which causes inevitable death. In 2021, changes in the law came into effect which envision the determination of people eligible to use the MAID programme as well as the federal government collecting data and setting a reporting framework. Currently, a person must meet all of the following criteria in order to use the MAID programme (visitors to Canada are not eligible for medical assistance in dying):
• Be eligible for health services funded by the federal government or a province or a territory.
• Be at least 18 years old and mentally competent. This means being capable of making health care decisions for yourself.
• Have a grievous and irremediable medical condition.
• Make a voluntary request for MAID that is not the result of outside pressure or influence.
• Give informed consent to receive MAID.
Therefore, in accordance with Canada’s law about euthanasia, child euthanasia is not allowed in Canada. In addition, it is also false to claim that Canada’s law affects poor and mentally handicapped people. The aforementioned criteria illustrate that an individual must be mentally competent in order to request the MAID programme.
Parliament in March 2021 established a Special Joint Committee on MAID to further study several issues, including whether the law should extend to what it called "mature minors." The committee is expected to present that report to Parliament in February 2023. The Government of Canada has no immediate plans to alter the minimum age requirement to access MAID, though it will consider the advice of the Special Joint Committee on the matter of mature minors. Currently, the law does not apply to people under 18.
Editor's note: The article was updated on December 27, 2022 to add information about the work of a special committee in the Canadian Parliament, which is considering the possible extension of the law to mature minors. However, the verdict of the article remains the same, as MAID currently only applies to persons aged 18+.
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