An Open Letter from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Concerning the Canadian Psychiatric Association Position Statement on Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD)

November 20, 2021

To Whom It May Concern:

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national human rights organization of people with disabilities working for an equitable, accessible and inclusive Canada, is very concerned about the approach taken on Medical Aid in Dying by the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) in its Position Statement. CCD joins others in calling upon the CPA to reform its Position Statement on MAiD.

Since the decision in the Carter case, CCD has been advocating for robust safeguards to protect people with disabilities from acquiescing to MAiD during a period when they have been made vulnerable by the persistent, and often overwhelming and devastating, ableist barriers that exist in Canadian society. Ableism is a factor in the lives of people with mental health disabilities just as it is in the lives of people with other types of disabilities. CCD is of the view that the CPA’s current statement on MAiD has serious gaps because it has not attended adequately to the influence of ableism on decisions to seek MAiD by people with disabilities, including people with mental health disabilities.

The CPA Position Statement does not address the negative social determinants of health (trauma, poverty, lack of housing, disability-related supports and other social supports) and how they impact on people with disabilities, including mental health disabilities, seeking MAiD.

The CPA Position Statement does not address suicidality and suicide prevention. A blanket endorsement for MAiD without expressing concern for suicidality seems to be an approach not based on medical evidence and is surprising coming from a mental health association. The disability rights community knows all too well that suicide prevention is too often overlooked when it comes to people with disabilities. Not addressing suicidality and suicide prevention in a Position Statement on MAiD is a serious and dangerous flaw.


Heidi Janz
Ending of Life Ethics Committee Council of Canadians with Disabilities

Heather Walkus