OTTAWA - A Liberal government bill delaying the expansion of medical assistance in dying eligibility until 2027 is poised to become law after passing in the Senate.

Access to the procedure was set to widen within weeks to include those seeking it solely on the basis of a mental disorder.

The government moved to delay that expansion after a parliamentary committee recommended it, saying the country was not ready to move ahead.

Health Minister Mark Holland also says most provinces and territories told him they weren't ready for the expansion and asked for more time.

Critics say there is no clear way of telling whether someone's mental suffering will improve or how to distinguish between the desire for an assisted death and suicidal ideation.

Those who want eligibility to be widened say people with mental illness deserve the same access to an assisted death as those who have intolerable physical pain.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 29, 2024.