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Professor Sonu GaindScreenshot/YouTube

OTTAWA, Ontario (LifeSiteNews) — A leading Canadian psychiatrist has testified that Canada is “not ready” to offer euthanasia to the mentally ill.   

Doctor K. Sonu Gaind, who supports euthanasia under certain circumstances, testified on November 28 before the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Ottawa against expanding the practice.

“This expansion is not so much a slippery slope as a runaway train,” he declared.

Gaind underscored that he is not a “conscientious objector” to euthanasia and that he was the chair of his prior hospital’s MAiD team. His principal concern is to protect those with mental illness.

“MAiD is for irremediable medical conditions, ones that we can predict won’t improve,” he said.

“Worldwide evidence shows we cannot predict irremediability in cases of mental illness, meaning the primary safeguard underpinning MAiD is already bypassed,” he continued.

The leading psychiatrist added, “Scientific evidence shows we cannot distinguish suicidality caused by mental illness from motivations leading to psychiatric MAiD requests… [There are] overlapping characteristics suggesting there may be no distinction to make.”

READ: Top Canadian psychiatrists urge gov’t to halt expansion of euthanasia to the mentally ill

Gaind directly addressed the claims of “discrimination” made by those in support of the expansion of MAiD, including Senator Stanley Kutcher and Dr. Mona Gupta.

“MAiD assessors will be wrong over half the time when predicting irremediability, will wrongly believe they are filtering out suicidality, and will instead provide death to marginalized suicidal Canadians who could have improved,” he said.

“That is the ultimate discrimination.”

Gaind also took issue with statements made by Dr. Jocelyn Downie, a leading euthanasia activist and Trudeau Foundation Fellow.

“Professor Downie claimed, ‘Irremediability is a legal term rather than a clinical concept.’ Try those mental gymnastics on your constituents,” Gaind said dryly.  

“Convince them it was okay their loved ones with mental illness got MAiD, not because of a clinical assessment based in medicine or science, but on the ethics of the particular assessor.”

READ: Trudeau Foundation fellow cites ‘privilege’ to justify expanding euthanasia to the mentally ill

Gaind criticized the euthanasia curriculum used by the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers (CAMAP) for not teaching users how to differentiate between “suicidality” and “psychiatric MAiD requests.”

“A key problem with psychiatric MAiD assessments [is] the hubris of the assessor thinking they can determine irremediability and distinguish suicidality from psychiatric MAiD requests, when evidence shows they can do neither,” he said.

Based on all the evidence, Gaind is convinced that direct euthanasia should not be offered to the mentally ill.

“I’ve reviewed our legislation, the Health Canada practice standard, and the CAMAP training for MAiD for mental illness,” he said. “As someone who supports MAiD in general, I assure you: we are not ready.”

Gaind included in his fast-paced, passionate speech an admonishment of those who support expansion of MAiD.

“An echo chamber has driven expansion with reassurances but no safeguards,” he asserted. “It’s reassurance theatre.”

Gaind is a University of Toronto governor and professor of psychiatric medicine. In addition, he is Chief of the Department of Psychiatry at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and past president of Canadian Psychiatric Association.

Former Bill C-7, which allows for euthanasia on the grounds of mental illness, was passed into law in early 2021. However, the eligibility of the mentally ill to be killed was delayed for two years. The exclusion was extended in February 2023 and then extended again in March to last until March 17, 2024.

In October this year, Conservative MP Ed Fast introduced Bill C-314, an effort to “amend the Criminal Code to provide that a mental disorder is not a grievous and irremediable medical condition for which a person could receive medical assistance in dying.”

When put to a vote, the Bill was defeated 167 to 150.

The Catholic Church opposes so-called “assisted suicide” or “medical assistance in dying.” The 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.” (CCC 2277).