(OTTAWA) Parliamentarians in Ottawa have postponed for a year the expansion of medical assistance in dying for people whose only medical condition is mental health, but in the meantime, Canadians must wait.

John Scully is one of them. He has lived with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder for forty years. He tried almost every known treatment, from shock therapy to transmagnetic stimulation, but his condition never improved.

The 82-year-old wants to end his suffering. He wants to do it legally, without pain and with respect for his loved ones.

He wants medical assistance in dying.

But like many Canadians who are in the same situation as him, Mr. Scully must continue to wait.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Mr. Scully did not hide to show his disappointment with this decision.

“I have total contempt for the panels and the government that have delayed expanding (assisted dying), Mr. Scully dropped. They can’t decide. That’s why they always postpone the problem. »

The Liberal government’s decision to extend medical assistance in dying to people with mental illness as the only underlying condition has sparked a lot of reactions in Canada.

Opponents of the measure, including some disability advocates, have expressed concern that it would open the door further to abuse and coercion.

They also worry that people are choosing to end their lives even though what they really need is better support, including housing and mental health care.

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has also promised to repeal this expansion if he becomes prime minister.

In contrast, proponents of the expansion argue that the move will give autonomy and dignity to people who have exhausted all other treatment options.

They believe that not to do so would violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by discriminating against people with disabilities.

Mr. Scully, a former journalist who covered 35 war zones during a long, award-winning career, also suffers from severe spinal stenosis and chronic kidney disease. However, these physical problems do not qualify him to receive medical assistance in dying.

Mr. Scully described his pain as “relentless, incessant and incurable” and his life as “joyless” due to his severe mental illness.

“It’s a hell of a choice they imposed on me and others: assisted death or suicide. »

Dr. Chantal Perrot, who is a family physician and does assessments for physician-assisted dying, believes it’s “horrible for patients to think they have a choice between continuing to suffer and committing suicide.”

This dilemma “also contributes to the suffering of family and friends,” she recalled.

“For most people, suicide is a very isolated and lonely act. This is not what you would call a dignified end to life,” she noted.

For her, there was no need to further delay the expansion of the medical assistance in dying program.

“Each patient will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the unique particulars of their life, circumstances and wishes,” she said.

In writing, Federal Justice Minister David Lametti acknowledged that delaying release can be frustrating and disappointing for some patients.

But he reiterated that he believed it was “the prudent course to take” so that the government can consider expert recommendations and practitioners can agree on how to assess complex cases. .

Mr. Scully, meanwhile, would consult with doctors and his family before moving forward with assisted dying, but the current situation has caused him to lose faith in the system.

In the end, he decided, “I’m the one who should decide if I should die.” »