Organizations opposed to medical assistance in dying (MAiD) for the mentally ill are celebrating the federal decision to pause it further, but want the idea itself permanently put to rest.Federal government officials indicated January 29 that doctor-assisted suicide for people whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness will not become legal on March 17 2024.The announcement came after the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying recommended an indefinite delay on giving this to the mentally ill until key stakeholders can agree that it “can be done safely.”Due to a “sunset clause” in the federal MAiD law introduced in 2021, people with a mental illness were originally to become eligible for MAiD on March 17 2023. The timeline was delayed to March of 2024 and now has no timeline for reintroduction.In a press release, Rebecca Vachon, program director for Cardus health, said "I'm relieved" at the committee's announcement and called for the government to put off the idea forever."The Canadian government should place an indefinite pause on euthanasia for mental disorders as a sole underlying condition," she said.Cardus made a brief to the committee that said there were inherent problems with reporting and oversight in the current provision of euthanasia and further expansion would be irresponsible given the existing barriers and gaps in mental health careFall 2023 polling by the Angus Reid Institute and Cardus found only 28% of Canadians supported this expansion, whereas 82% believed mental health care should first be improved before expansion.Inclusion Canada, a national organization for people with an intellectual disability, demands a full repeal of the sunset clause.New Statistics Canada data reveals mental health-related disability is the fastest-growing disability in the country. According to Inclusion Canada, half of all Canadians have unmet mental health care needs. A Senate report concluded the federal suicide-prevention strategy has failed.“We’re facing a mental health crisis,” says Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President of Inclusion Canada. “While the committee’s focus on ‘readiness’ may lead you to believe that we will someday be ready for this, I don’t see it that way. The most responsible path forward is to remove the ‘sunset clause’ from the legislation altogether and put all of our collective energy into providing the supports necessary for people to live good lives in community.”According to Inclusion Canada, some staff from the Department of Justice indicated there are Charter considerations supporting the prohibition of MAiD for mental illness.“I’d encourage elected officials to not prepare for MAiD for mental illness like it is a given,” says Moira Wilson, President of Inclusion Canada.“It’s time to chart a new course and support people with a mental illness to live well. Nothing is forcing the government to go forward. Once and for all, repeal the sunset clause.”Four out of five people with a mental illness have at least one other disability and may still be eligible for assisted suicide under the current law due to those other disabilities.Dying with Dignity, a pro-MAiD group, expressed disappointment the mentally ill wanting to die would not get help doing so by their own government and tax dollars."For the people across the country who live with treatment-resistant mental disorders who have patiently waited for this change in Canada's MAiD law, Dying With Dignity Canada is disheartened and shares the frustration of the continued exclusion, stigmatization and discrimination based on diagnosis," the advocacy group said in a statement.Health Canada reported 13,241 people received medically assisted deaths in 2022, 31.2% more than in 2021. The agency says 44,958 people have received medically assisted deaths since the introduction of federal legislation in 2016.Three senators from the government committee, Stan Kutcher, Marie-Françoise Mégie, Pamela Wallin – wrote a dissenting report to say that delaying the expansion would discriminate against the mentally ill."This is genuinely a matter of life and death. The government should not renege on its promise to respect an individual's right to choose," Wallin said in a statement.Conservative MP Michael Cooper, a member of the special committee, said the idea should be paused indefinitely and not simply delayed. "Kicking the can down the road … is completely insufficient," he said.